USA-Canada rematch brewing? Canada knocks off Russia

Goalie Roberto Luongo stopped 25 of 28 shots to lead Canada to a surprising 7-3 victory over Russia in the quarterfinals of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

From the Washington Post:

They weren’t kidding around. Team Canada, so rattled after losing to the United States in pool play Sunday, pole-axed the talented Russians, 7-3, in a quarterfinal game Wednesday evening at Canada Hockey Place. The Canadians will face the winner of Wednesday night’s late game between Slovakia and Sweden in the semifinals Friday.

What all of Canada had built into an Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby matchup — the red-clad, hockey-mad fans gave the arena the look of Verizon Center during a Caps-Penguins playoff game — instead turned into an eye-averting onslaught. Ovechkin was certainly a focal point, both for the crowd, which booed him during introductions and every chance it got, and for the Canadians, who hit him so hard and so often that Ted Leonsis probably had difficulty getting out of bed this morning. But neither of them had a point.

Not only were the Canadian goals plentiful, despite the Crosby drought, but some of them were works of art, tremendous displays of teamwork and crisp passing and anticipation. That isn’t always the case in Olympic play, where teams usually get only one or two practices before pool play begins.

One more win for USA and Canada and the greatest rematch known to man will commence.

All right, so it wouldn’t be the greatest rematch known to man (everyone knows that the Ninja Turtles vs. the Shredder in “TMNT II: The Secret of the Ooze” was the greatest rematch known to man), but it would make for great, Olympic-style drama.

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United States narrowly defeats Switzerland

Propelled by two goals from Zach Parise and another powerful performance by goalie Ryan Miller, the U.S. men’s hockey team has advanced to the semifinals. The team faced a tough competitor in Switzerland, but found an edge in the last period to earn the 2-0 victory.


But Zach Parise put all that frustration aside, deflecting a wrist shot from Brian Rafalski early in the third period, then scored into an empty net late to seal a 2-0 quarterfinal win that sends the U.S. to the next round against the winner of Wednesday night’s game between the Czech Republic and Finland.

“Relief and excitement, especially in a tight game like that when you are doing everything but score,” said Parise, who failed to score on his first 13 shots of the tournament. “The goalie was great and we did a good job of sticking with it. “We were pretty confident and said just keep putting pucks at him.”

Ryan Miller made 19 saves to backstop the victory and move the Americans within two wins of its first men’s hockey gold medal in 30 years.

For myself, the U.S. hockey team’s run has been the most exciting part of the 2010 Winter Olympics. The feeling makes me want to gather up some of my closest friends and head to a fun bar to enjoy the next game. We can drink frothy glasses of beer, share stupid stories, look at pretty girls, and root for our countrymen.

Wait — never mind. NBC is broadcasting the game at 3 PM ET on Friday. Scratch those plans.

Canada to start Luongo in goal against Germany

Photo from fOTOGLIF

After Martin Brodeur gave up four goals to the United States last night, Canada’s hockey team has decided to replace him with Roberto Luongo for Tuesday’s matchup against Germany.

From The Vancouver Sun:

Vancouver’s Luongo will take over in goal for Martin Brodeur when Canada faces Germany on Tuesday for the next matchup in Olympic men’s hockey.

“I’m pumped,” Luongo before the announcement today. “The adrenaline is really going. I can’t tell you how excited I am.”

Canadian coach Mike Babcock made the announcement today at a post-practice press conference.

Luongo will remain the starter as long as Canada is in what is now a single-elimination tournament, Babcock vowed.

Luongo shut out Norway 8-0 in Canada’s Olympic opener, before giving way to national-team incumbent starter Brodeur. But the veteran, who started at the last two Olympics, looked poor on two of the four goals that beat him during Sunday’s 5-3 loss to the United States.

It seems like Team Canada is reeling after their unexpected loss on Sunday, first facing the disappointment of its country and now the bruised confidence of its veteran goalie. Nevertheless, Luongo is a solid second option who should give the Germans a tough time in their elimination game. Unfortunately, it simply looks like Canada is fighting an uphill battle. Assuming the team wins, it will enter the quarterfinals and have the misfortune of playing Russia.

How to fix the Winter Olympics

In his article, “Games Saver,” in the Feb. 22 issue of ESPN The Magazine, Luke Cyphers recommends a few ways to rekindle interest in the Winter Olympic Games. I particularly like his first two suggestions:

Back in 1992, you could rely on certain big events hitting every four years. A leap year. A presidential election. And the Olympics, both Winter and Summer in one 12-month span. That made them a scarce commodity. But, acting on a plan hatched eight years earlier, the IOC monkeyed with the calendar in 1994, putting the Winter Games in “off” even-numbered years. What was intended to make them more visible did just the opposite. The Games need to get back on Olympic Standard Time, one year for all. It would solve one huge and growing problem — competition with the World Cup for ad dollars and attention.

Vancouver’s financial mess is a warning to future bidders: Stay away. Suckering new cities to create a billion-dollar playground is simply unsustainable. More sites means more sprawl, more CO2 and more global warming — counter-productive when you race on snow. As the Greeks did, the Olympic organizers need to pick a single stage they can dust off every four years, preferably a city that already has facilities in place. We vote for Innsbruck, site of Franz Klammer’s downhill, Dorothy Hamill’s haircut and an active spot for all major winter sports. At the very least, the IOC should rotate the Games among single hosts on each of the three continents that have held them before. In addition to Innsbruck, recycle Salt Lake, and Sapporo in Asia too.

Holding the Winter Olympics and Summer Olympics in the same calendar year would increase interest in the former since it would wet the palette of those looking forward to the Summer Games. Also, Cyphers point about the World Cup is a strong one. Soccer is only getting bigger.

I also like his idea about rotating the Games through three venues, one on each continent of Europe, Asia and North America. It’s pretty ridiculous that a city has to build all of these venues just to hold these Games for a few weeks. It’s a waste of resources, especially when there are very nice facilities available in other cities that have already hosted the event. They should do the same thing for the Summer Games — rotating amongst, say, Athens, Sydney and Los Angeles — for the same reasons.

Ratings for the Vancouver Games have been decent.

NBC is still exceeding its ratings guarantee to advertising of a 14.0 average prime-time household rating. Through Friday, it was averaging a 14.7 rating and 26.2 million viewers over the first eight nights of the Olympics.

According to Cyphers, Salt Lake had a 19.2 rating and Torino had a 12.2.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Team USA stuns Canada in thrilling victory

Battling a talented Canadian hockey team on its home ice, the United States defeated their neighbors to the north 5-3 in a key preliminary matchup.


The Buffalo Sabres’ Ryan Miller made 36 saves and the United States shocked host Canada 5-3 in a key preliminary hockey matchup.

“I got a lot of goal support from my boys & we really battled for each other,” Miller said.

Miller withstood an onslaught by the Canadian team in the final moments with the Americans clinging to a one-goal lead.

Devils teammates Jamie Langenbrunner and Brian Rafalski led the U.S. charge. Rafalski scored two goals and Langenbrunner had a goal and an assist.

Hell yeah. This game was so fun to watch.

The win earns the United States a bye, giving them an extra day of rest. The team will face a yet-to-be-determined opponent on Wednesday in the quarterfinals.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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