Today was a hockey day. Hats off to the Swiss! With all of the NHL all-star teams in the tournament, the virtually anonymous Swiss came ready to play. They made the Americans earn it. And I have to say that I really like the way the US responded to the challenge. USA is an all-NHL team but they do not boast as many superstars as Canada or even Finland for that matter. To win the tournament, they'll need to be the team that does all of the little things and works well together. So far, so good.
Checking in with the Capitals
All five Caps were sent packing yesterday, the Russians in particularly dramatic fashion. The much anticipated Canada-Russia match-up was a dud. The Canadian game plan was obvious and effective: blitzkrieg. The Canadians hit the ice ready to knock every Russian player hard into the boards and to pepper a goalie they quickly found to be vulnerable. The Russians were rightly criticized for not offering much in return but it was clear they didn't know what hit them. The Canadians reminded me of Kentucky basketball circa 1996 when it felt like Pitino's team always had six players on the floor. The Canadians sent a clear message to the rest of the field with this win, too. If anyone is going to beat them, they're going to have to be ready to play through pain. I doubt Slovakia or Finland would be up to it. Team USA, on the other hand, might just be the team to do it.
Of the five Caps, Nicklas Backstrom (Sweden) leaves the Olympics with the best stat sheet: 5 assists, 1 goal, +3 plus/minus rating. Fleischmann (Czech Republic) did well, too. He was a real workhorse, pulling loads of special teams duty. One hopes Ovechkin and Semin (Russia) take the Canada loss as inspiration for the rest of the NHL season.
The good news is that they all get a week off before the Caps' season resumes next Wednesday. Hopefully the disappointment will provide motivation in the playoffs.
One has to figure that with the loss, Ovechkin will do everything he can to play in Sochi in 2014, no matter what Gary Bettman says.
I need to let My Wife get back to work. She's staying home due to weather today.