Monday, February 24, 2014

Canada Wins Hockey Gold in Convincing Fashion

There are only two Winter Olympic sports I genuinely care about: hockey and curling. Canada won gold in both sports, both genders. I guess it's nice that Canada has something to be proud of, but seeing groups of Canadians happy just irritates me for some reason.

At the same time I'm happy for Patrice Bergeron and Claude Julien. I'm also happy that Loui Eriksson won silver and Tuukka Rask won bronze. Five Boston Bruins players went to Sochi to play for five teams, and three of them will return with medals.

Canada beat Sweden 3-0 to win gold in men's ice hockey. Sweden was lacking Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Backstrom. Already an underdog, losing those two centers made the task of beating Canada almost impossible.

The Canadians brought their "eh" game (not my joke). They saved their best hockey for the elimination rounds. Their win over Sweden was almost flawless. Jonathan Toews put them up 1-0 with a deflection between Henrik Lundqvist's legs. The goal was a byproduct of puck possession and Toews' ability to get position in front of the net. All game long, Lundqvist had to deal with bodies on top of him.

Sidney Crosby scored Canada's second goal. Jonathan Ericsson tried to carry the puck through three Canadian players instead of dumping it into the corner. Crosby stole it from Ericsson then beat Lundqvist on a breakaway.

Chris Kunitz sealed the deal in the 3rd.

Canada's control of this game is demonstrated by shots on goal. The Swedes only got 9 shots on Carey Price in the 2nd period, and only 4 in the 3rd. That's an amazing stat, only 4 shots on goal in a period. Price stopped all shots he saw and extended his shutout streak to over 160 minutes. The Latvians were the last team to score on him.

Canada was the best team in this tournament. Their roster was built the best, their coaches were by far the best, they played the best. This team didn't just win based on their talent, of which they had quite a bit, they won with effort, teamwork, execution, and passion.

This might be the last Olympics with NHL players, which would be a shame. This tournament provided some compelling storylines, from Canada's success to Russian and American disappointment. Finland winning bronze is a good story, as were the quarterfinal appearances of Latvia and Slovenia.

I really hope Olympic hockey remains a showcase of the game at its finest, and not just another international tournament that only clinically diagnosed hockey addicts care about.

Photo Credit:
Martin Rose/Getty