Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Team Canada plays peewee team; advances in Olympics

Canadians cheer on their hockey team in the winter Olympics

Wait what? They were playing Russia?? And oh how the mighty have fallen. In fact, substitute "playing" with "slaughtering" and you'd have yourself a pretty accurate summary of the Olympic Canada vs Russia mens' hockey game. The Canadians won 7-3 in a game many were surprised wasn't closer... or close at all.

As any good American would, I'm rooting for Team USA. However, I still had a vested interest in this game, aside from the fact that the winner will likely be playing the US in the gold medal round. This game involved many of my favorite players on both sides of the puck. I determined who to support by mathematical equation. Crosby (+2) + Fleury (+1) versus Malkin (+1) + Gonchar (+1) + Ovechkin (-1) = Go Canada. I'm glad I supported the side I did, otherwise this would have been really painful to watch.

I could do a full game summary, but it would basically be, "Canada scored. Then Canada scored again. Then Canada scored again. Then there was some skating. Then Canada scored again." Instead, here are the top 3 moments of the Canada vs Russia game.

#1 Canada's Dan Boyle taking down Russia's Alexander Semin. And by taking down I mean absolutely slamming him to the ice. This came after Semin's late hit on Boyle seconds before. As a result of this cheap hit, Boyle came charging back and slammed Semin in the front while simultaneously taking his feet out from under him. I laughed my ass off. Priceless.

There haven't been all that many fights or cheap hits throughout the Olympics. I'd imagine this is because none of the players want to get hurt and because of the Olympic spirit and all that. Despite this, one player who has been playing consistently dirty hockey is Russia's Alex Ovechkin. (Herein, "Obitchkin.") Obitchkin has been taking dirty hits on players throughout the Olympic games including on the Czech Republic's (as well as former Penguins' player and childhood crush of mine) Jaromir Jagr and on Canada's Sidney Crosby. With Semin pulling the same stunts, a teammate of Obitchkin's on the Washington Capitals, it's nice to see that someone retaliated for the low blows. Maybe if Obitchkin and Semin spent more time trying to score and less time trying to take down opponents, Russia wouldn't have fallen so abysmally.

#2 Sergei Gonchar's goal for Russia. Gonchar scored Russia's third goal against Canada, giving his team a sliver of hope that turned out to be futile. Honestly, I liked this moment solely because Gonchar plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins and I'm not going to feign neutrality.

#3 Crosby shaking hands with Obitchkin at the end of the game as Crosby, Fleury, and the Canadians advance and Obitchkin goes home. It was pretty much just like last year's Stanley Cup playoffs... I basically enjoyed this because I'm a Pens fan and because I'm in love with Crosby and Obitchkin is my least favorite sports figure. Beyond that though, it shouldn't have come as a surprise to many.

The truth is, Russia's hockey team is overhyped and has been for quite some time, especially in the USA. This is a result of the miracle on ice 1980 USA vs Soviet Union hockey game where the US won and ended the Soviets' gold medal streak from the past four winter Olympic games. This was one of the greatest sports moments in history (unless, of course, you're from Russia). However, Russia, has not won a gold medal in men's Olympic hockey since 1988. I was three. The Pittsburgh Pirates haven't had a winning season since 1992 and while they are still my favorite baseball team, I wouldn't exactly call them dominant in their sport... Russia's hockey team didn't even make the medal stand in the 2006 Olympics.

To be sure, I'm not saying Russia doesn't have one of the top hockey teams out there, but they are no longer this completely dominant power house that truly talented teams like Canada need to fear. The game wasn't even a contest.

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