Sunday Funday

It’s amazing the difference four years will make. 

After boasting a team in the ’06 Olympics with a first line of Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez, and Bill Guerin, this year’s USA version is just a bit more talented.  The Americans finished the preliminary round with a resounding 5-3 victory over host Canada and finished the opening round a perfect 3-0.

The final game of Group A featured an insane amount of skill.  The speed of the game was simply breathtaking.  Guys were flying around the ice making important decisions in less than a split-second.  Really, it’s incredibly difficult for me to even describe how fast and how high of a level the game was being played at.

The best way I can think to describe it is this: You know when you’re watching a game on television and it’s always slower than when you’re watching it in person.  Well, this game was played at a speed you’d see live at the arena except we all watched it on TV.  I can’t even imagine what this game looked like to the 20,000 in the Canada Hockey Place.

Either way, the win was a tremendously tremendous (H/T to Edzo) boost for USA Hockey.  While it won’t guarantee them any medals and it was strictly a vanity win, the talent gap between Canada and the US isn’t as wide as many believed.  Combine this win with the US striking gold in the World Junior Championships and it’s been a wildly successful year for the USA Hockey organization.

Other thoughts bouncing around my skull on this lovely evening:

–Mike Babcock is going to be incredibly hard-pressed to give Roberto Luongo the starting nod in Canada’s first playoff game against Germany.  Martin Brodeur cost Canada two goals by playing outside of himself.  The first time, he took a wild baseball swing at the puck.  He made contact, but the puck went right to Brian Rafalski and he put the Americans right back on top with his second goal of the game.  The second time, Brodeur was trying to clear a loose puck as though he was the third defenseman on the ice.  Chris Drury was more than happy to deposit the puck into the vacated net. 

–I’m sorry, Chris Drury.  I take back any negative word I said about your addition to this team.  You haven’t played at a level like this since you were dominating 11-year old Taiwanese kids.  Drury put the Americans on top for good at end of the 2nd period with his second goal of the tournament.  He also blocked roughly 131 shots.

–After going 3-0 through the opening round, I don’t think Brian Burke and Ron Wilson can play the ‘underdog’ card anymore.  If the Americans don’t at least get themselves into a medal round game, it will be a colossal disappointment.

–Depending on the outcome of the Finland-Sweden game, the USA has a chance to avoid Canada and Russia until the Gold Medal game.  That would be an incredibly fortuitous development.  Especially if you’ve watched Alex Ovechkin play for 5 seconds in this Olympics.  Ovechkin is playing as though his family’s freedom depends on him winning the gold. 

In Sunday’s game, he single-handedly turned the tables on the Czechs when he sent Jaromir Jagr back to 1987 with a huge open-ice check.  On the ensuing rush, the Russians scored and the game was essentially over at that moment. 

–On the other hand, Ilya Kovalchuk looks like he’s never seen a hockey puck before.

–All the Blackhawks played well in Sunday night’s affair.  Jonathan Toews had two assists for Canada.  Brent Seabrook also had one and so did Duncan Keith.  Seabrook saw very limited action after the first period.  If he had more than three shifts after the opening frame, I would be surprised.  Keith, on the other hand, saw a lot of action especially in the last ten minutes of the game.

Patrick Kane didn’t show up on the scoresheet but it wasn’t due to lack of chances.  Kane set up several teammates with some sweet passes but had nothing to show for it.  He also was denied by Brodeur on a couple of golden opportunities.  Kane and Dustin Brown really seemed to work well together. 

–If Rick Nash played every game like he did on Sunday, he would be a monster.  Nash was seemingly everywhere and when he wasn’t omnipresent, he was peeling himself off of Ryan Miller.     

*On the Farm*

Friday: Rockford 6, San Antonio Rampage 5– The IceHogs jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead and then proceeded to hang on for dear life the rest of the way in.  Matt Keith scored twice in the opening frame while defensemen Richard Petiot and Mike Brennan chipped in with goals of their own. 

After San Antonio responded with two goals in the second, Kyle Greentree scored his 22nd goal of the season with just over a minute left in the period to give the IceHogs a two-goal cushion.  Kyle Turris cut Rockford’s lead to one early in the third but Matt Keith completed the hat trick by scoring his third goal of the game late in the third to ice the game away.

The Rampage scored with under a minute left to threaten, but it was as close as they would get.  Other IceHogs with big nights were Peter MacArthur with three assists and Jack Skille had two assists.

Corey Crawford stopped 29 of the 34 shots he faced.

Saturday: Rockford 3, San Antonio 2– The IceHogs completed the weekend sweep over the Rampage with a come -from-behind victory.  Trailing 2-1 heading into the third period, Jack Skille scored on the power play to tie the score.  Then four minutes later, Matt Keith scored his fourth goal of the weekend to give the IceHogs the game-winner. 

Skille also scored the first goal for Rockford.  Evan Brophey and Peter MacArthur each had two assists.  Joseph Fallon got win with 29 saves. 

Sunday: Milwaukee Admirals 4, Rockford 1– The IceHogs couldn’t complete the weekend sweep on Sunday afternoon.  Traveling up to Milwaukee, the IceHogs found themselves trailing 3-0 halfway through.  Only Akim Aliu would find the back of the net with his 11th goal of the season.  It wasn’t nearly enough.  Corey Crawford stopped 25 of 29 shots.

Shawn Lalonde had two assists on Friday night in Belleville’s 9-4 win.  Saturday, the Bulls were shutout 6-0.

Kyle Beach had a goal and no penalty minutes in two games this weekend.

Byron Froese scored a goal and had three assists as the Everett Silvertips swept their weekend set of games.

Dylan Olsen played in only one game this weekend as UMD was swept by North Dakota by a combined score of 10-3.  Dan DeLisle did not dress for either game.

Brandon Pirri scored a goal on Friday night in RPI’s 5-3 win over Quinnipiac.  RPI was shutout 7-0 by Princeton on Saturday.

Nick Leddy scored a goal and chipped in with two assists during Saturday’s 7-4 win over Colorado College.  Billy Sweatt assisted on Colorado College’s second goal of the game.  Neither player found the scoresheet in Minnesota’s 3-0 win on Friday.

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17 Responses to Sunday Funday

  1. Nick says:

    What a game. Well we got the best possible outcome, Toews, Keith, and Seabrook had nice games and the US won.

    Capt. Serious, other than the aforementioned Nash, I thought had the game of the night for Canada. Every time he touched the puck he was evading a multitude of defenders, making gorgeous passes and I hope we see some more of that when we return to the reg. season play.

  2. Lou says:

    Kane absolutely blew by Iginla on a break right before his penalty in the third.

  3. HawkVision says:

    I hate Kesler. But, that was probably the best empty net goal I have ever seen…outside of Ron Hextall.

  4. Patrick says:

    I agree with Nick, Towes looked like the best Canadian on the ice – played with the passion and smarts we Hawks fans can take for granted. Kane was too good for his own good – other USA players didn’t know what to do with his solid passing.

    Loved the shot at the end of the game when Kane and Towes caught up in the handshake line. Those guys look like two close friends after a hard battle (which, of course, it was). Anybody know if they’re friends, or really just teammates who play on the same line?

    Hope the Yanks can keep it up in the Medal Rounds…

  5. Lee Rosenberg says:

    Game was great but anyone who watched the earlier game and believe there is a trade cooking for Huet and Vokum, I thought vokum was huge

  6. Lou says:

    I think TOEWS and Kane along with all of the Hawks are pretty tight and function together. Captain Serious may not be as visible as young Patrick is on the social scene.

  7. Lou says:

    Lots of scuttle still on the Huet for Vokoun trade

  8. Otter says:

    I thought Toews was the best Canadian forward… Nash was everywhere, but I thought he went for the big check over playing hockey a few times (see the US’ third goal).

    Two awesome games (Czechs/Russians and US/Canada) yesterday. It was also fun seeing how different the games were played and what the two teams though of each other. Seemed like genuine dislike in the Slavic affair while the US and Canada each seemed to respect each other and seemed to almost enjoy the chance to play each other.

    As great as Miller was, Brodeur was pretty bad for the Canadians. I was also underwhelmed by the Canucks blue line all night; while I thought the US blue line was excellent all things considered.

    It’s gonna be an awesome week of hockey. May Canada get by the Germans to set up WWIII.

  9. Lou says:

    Thinking about the game and as scary as this may sound but could the Canadians have too much talent and not enough role players? Their line-up is ridiculously stacked with top players/superstars in every role. Can players beyond Morrow, Keith, Toews and Iginla adjust their game for a different role in such a short period of time?

    The US has star talent but also more role players like Orpik, Callahan, Brown, Drury, Langenbrunner. Is it a better mix to win a medal????

    Just a wild thought

  10. John says:

    It’s still the Canadians tournament to lose. If one team is capable of surviving their bracket, it’s them.

  11. Otter says:

    @ Lou, I don’t think they’re too good. Toews does those “little things” winning battles along the boards and going to the net. When you out shoot the other team nearly 2-1, I’m not sure needing a great forechecking line. Let’s face it, for much of the first and the last half of the third, the US couldn’t control the puck and Canada completely dominated the game. Line changes were hard to come by at times and when the US did finally get position, a change was necessary and they couldn’t get anything going. Yeah, hard work led to the first US goal but when else was the forecheck an advantage (and that first goal turned out to be a huge goal since it quieted the crowd and ensured the US wouldn’t be trying to come back from behind all night).

    If Marty doesn’t swing at that puck in the first and if Marty stays in his net instead of the US getting an easy open net goal in the second… I think if you’re Canada that’s what you’re thinking right now. OK goaltending will bring home a victory next time. The US needs to get amazing goaltending and play even better if we’re to beat the Canadians (again) or Russians.

    I do think that Joe Thornton is a total waste of space out there for Canada. I have no clue what is wrong with this guy, but he’s like the Javier Vazquez and Cortney Brown (remember looks like Tarzan plays like Jane from the NFL) combined. He’s scared to do something… or something like that.

  12. dominator says:

    Maybe it was just me but did Kane seem a little extra floaty (that doesn’t seem right, cherry picky?) last night? I still thought he played a decent game but he looked like he was a half step out of the zone any time the US even looked like they were going to get control of the puck.

  13. John says:

    It was just you. He looked the same as he usually does.

  14. vito says:

    is sid the kid overrated? i mean he is a great player but the way the media makes it sound like he is the great one,and i can find 5 canadien players that easily top crosby’s play and one is on the blackhawks. toews is so hockey smart that i wonder if he is a psychic again crosby is a great player but not the best

  15. John says:

    Vito, you asked the question then answered it. As the Dude once said, “That’s like, your opinion man”. I don’t agree with you but you’re certainly entitled to your beliefs.

  16. vito says:

    well thanks john i guess i’ll put it my pipe and smoke it

  17. Dale Halas says:

    Been a whole lotta fun watchin’ these games:

    USA USA USA

    Oh wait that was Toews over there in the corner, GO TOEWS!!!!

    Now that’s Kane on the counterattack, USA USA USA

    Now there’s Seabrook passin’ to Keith and Keith takin’ a shot, root, root, root…

    Oh boy here comes the USA again, USA USA USA…

    This might not be the best hockey I’ve ever seen but I don’t know if I’ve ever had more fun watchin’ a game of hockey…

    Without the practice time, I don’t think it is any coincidence that the Toews and Backes types are leading in the +/- instead of the more offensive minded guys like Kane and Crosby. Kinda hard to play tick tack toe hockey when tick doesn’t know where tack is goin’. But it’s still been a whole lotta fun to watch.

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