The final four. Kind of surprising. No Russia, no Sweden, no Czech Republic. That's what's so great about this tournament and about the game of hockey. It's played on ice, not paper.
3pm - NBC: USA vs. Finland
OK, now I'm actually pissed about what time these games are on. In earlier rounds, I tolerated the 3pm starts, because what else would you do with 3 or 4 games on a day. But now with only two games, they easily could have put this game on at 5pm, or even 6. Give US fans on the East Coast and Midwest (where most American hockey fans reside) a chance to see the semifinals. And give potential fans of the game a chance to watch it on TV, instead of inevitably ignoring it while they work.
Anyway, to the game. Finland won't blow you away with too many star-studded names, but they are ranked 4th in the world. They did win Silver in '06. They're deep and they're solid. Mikka Kiprusoff in net is outstanding. He's 4th in the NHL with a 2.18 GAA (only 0.02 higher than Miller's), and he's 6th in the League in SV%.
The Finns are also just as hungry as the US. After losing to Sweden in '06, veterans like Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne are starving for that Gold in what could be their last Olympics.
I think the Finn's experience helps them win a close, tight-checking game. I see a 3-2 win for the Finnish (now do you get the "Finish Him" pic?)
9:30pm - CNBC: Canada vs. Slovakia
Both teams had to fight through an extra round. Both teams have beat the Russians. If Slovakian goalie Jaroslav Halak beats the Canadians, will he ever be cheered by Canadien fans again?
The Slovaks feature players from 4 different Leagues (NHL, Russia's KHL, Swedish Elitserien, and the Slovak Extraliga). But don't let that fool you. Some of those European league guys are NHL veterans like Richard Zednick, Zigmund Palffy and Jozef Stumpel. The Slovaks also have firepower from Zdeno Chara, Marian Hossa, and Pavol Demitra.
The Canadians have depth. But they've been inconsistent. So has Slovakian goalie Halak. If both teams decide to show up at 100%, Canada will win decisively. But if Martin Brodeur goes crazy playing the puck, and Halak is on, this game could get very interesting.
I'm rooting hard for the Slovaks, because screw Canada. It'd also be nice to be able to make Canadiens fans weep at the Bruins/Habs game I'm going to on Tuesday. Especially whenever Chara touches the puck.
I have to pick Canada, though. 4-1 to Johnny Canuck.
Friday, February 26, 2010
The International Olympic Committee is going to "investigate" the postgame celebration of the Canadian women's hockey team. After beating the US 2-0 and winning the Gold Medal, some members of the team celebrated on the ice by drinking beer and smoking cigars.
Who cares? How sensitive are we in sports today? If you're up by too many points, you're supposed to ease off. If you win, there are restrictions on how you can celebrate.
The Canadians did nothing to disrespect their opponent or the game. They were happy to win, and in their exuberance and jubilation, somebody opened up some beers. Do we expect these girls to say "No, I don't want free beer right now. It'd be inappropriate."
There weren't even any fans left in the arena. Just a few photographers and bitter Olympic officials who wanted to make a mountain out of a molehill.
Had they burnt the American flag, then I'd say their celebration went too far. But this is utter nonsense. They're kids, having the time of their life, let them have a beer and a cigar.