You’ll have to excuse me for the garbage that this piece could be. It’s 8 AM MST as I’m writing this. I was at my buddies wedding dance until 1:30 (congrats to my good friends Gene and Heather!) didn’t get home until 2:30, and was up basically at 5 so I’m operating on less than 3 hours sleep. But it is so damn worth it!!
When the team was picked, I had my doubts. I worried the brass didn’t give enough respect to how much speed was needed for the big ice. It was pretty obvious that while they claimed speed was the number 1 factor in selections, size was at the top of their list as well. I hated the fact that they were so concerned with taking a guy like Kunitz strictly because he plays with Crosby. And just because we won doesn’t mean every pick was right.
But this was beyond impressive! Hockey played on the big ice isn’t hockey, it’s ice soccer. You have to win 1-0, 2-0, 2-1, etc. The European teams play basically terrified of Canada and so they try to make us play on the outside the entire time and use ice that is useless. Grapes showed a great example of this today when Drew Doughty chased a guy behind the net and gave the Swedes likely their best scoring chance of the game. And it’s not just the big ice, it’s adapting to living in the Olympic village, being in a foreign country, I had Canada only winning Bronze not because they weren’t the best team on paper, but because there were just so many obstacles to overcome.
But our boys overcame everything and then some. Mike Babcock and his coaching staff got this team to buy into such a disciplined game, it was unbelievable. This is a team full of stars and superstars who are use to getting a ton of ice time and having their way offensively in the NHL. How many times do you see it not just in hockey but in sports where the supremely talented team refuses to buy into a team concept and completely fails because it? Not this crew.
They played amazing. They stayed patient, and waited for their opportunities to cash in. Crosby is maybe the best example of this. Didn’t snipe until today, only 3 points on the tournament, but away from the puck and defensively he was awesome the entire time. Same thing with Jonathan Toews. During both Stanley Cup runs, Toews had scoring droughts. Who cares? This guy is incredible in all aspects of the game and will step up if he needs to step up.
Now to do a little bit of bragging….have to, I’m petty like that. I was on Carey Price from day 1. I never once thought he shouldn’t be our number 1 guy, and I have considered him an elite NHL goaltender for 3 or 4 years now. But a lot of people did question that. I’m not an idiot, I’m pretty certain we would have won with Luongo too, he’s great. But Price is not only better, but he was perfectly suited for this team. He keeps his focus, he is probably the most technically sound goaltender in hockey so he’s not a guy who’ll give up bad rebounds or weak goals, and I’m pretty certain he is clinically dead when he’s between the pipes. He was my guy, I kept saying in all my Olympic projections leading up to this tournament that our goaltending was on par with everyone else and it was being drastically underrated. As some of you read 11 days ago or so on this site, I was pretty damn adamant about him being the guy and I’m glad the coaching staff saw it the same way. Not easy to leave the gold medal winner and a guy coming off a nice shutout on the bench, but it was the right move.
And what can you say about our blueline that hasn’t already been said? When the Norris trophy winner is your 8th D-man….you’re pretty f***ing good!! I just spoke about how great Price was, well he was the first guy to point out how easy playing behind that blueline was. Weber and Doughty are just on a different level right now, and did anyone even notice Pietrangelo or Vlasic playing on this team? That’s a good thing if you’re a D-man.
I could go on and on and on, but it’s now 8:30 and I need to go get some sleep so I’ll wrap this up. Canada was dominate in the most uncomfortable setting they could be placed in. We had a loss in Vancouver, and 2 other VERY close calls to win gold on home ice, on North American sized iced. This time, we played everyone else’s game better than everyone else. 4 Golds in a row for the women, 3 out of 4 Golds for the men. I think us pesky canucks just might be getting pretty good at this hockey thing.
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