February 22, 2010

A shameful game

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey, Olympics

It wasn’t exactly a sequel to the Miracle on Ice, but Sunday night’s game had a familiar story line. A young and plucky American ice hockey squad faced a juggernaut rival in a big Olympic moment. The USA, despite having the odds stacked against them, pulled out a win over the overwhelming favourite. Sure, winning a preliminary round game isn’t the same as advancing to Gold Medal game, but back in 1980, the U.S. was the home team. This time, the goliath was slain on home ice.

I had a few problems with this game before it even got started. The scheduling for this tournament has been favouring the home team more than a little. They’re the only squad that hasn’t had to play in the 12 p.m. or 9 p.m. PST slots, making their games at the ideal start of 4:30 p.m. These starts have allowed them better ice, better crowds and better sleeping and practice time. Nobody should be forced to play two games at noon like the U.S. was. In the World Cup this summer, every team plays at least one game at every possible start time to take away any sort of advantage; why not have that here?

Next, the Canadians and Americans both had two days off before Sunday’s game while Germany was forced to play two days in a row on Friday and Saturday. Could this not have been avoided? And don’t tell me that the Canada-USA game wouldn’t have gotten better TV ratings on Saturday night.

Finally, Sunday just happened to be the anniversary of one of the greatest moments in U.S. ice hockey history: The Miracle on Ice. If you were scheduling out these Games, how could you not realize that 20 years ago the States toppled the mighty Soviets to make the gold medal game in the biggest upset in Olympic history (maybe an exaggeration)? Of course, the States wore circa 1980 jerseys for Sunday’s game, adding even more predictability to the upset.

The game itself was physical, fast-paced and sloppy, with plenty chances being exchanged. The big difference was the men in net and Ryan Miller clearly won that battle over of Martin Brodeur. Marty’s puck-handling abilities were a detriment to the team while Miller stood on his head, saving 42 out of the 45 shots he faced.

The loss wasn’t completely Brodeur’s fault, his defencemen couldn’t clear out opposing forwards looking for tips and they couldn’t get their own sticks out of the way from shots – a cardinal sin amongst blue liners.

Maybe team Canada should think about giving the legend the hook for next game. It’s not like Roberto
Luongo is a slouch and shouldn’t have a problem blanking the Germans.

Finally, Corey Perry should be benched for the remainder of the tournament for failing to hustle and grab the slow rolling puck that was batted into the empty net to ice the game 5-3. It was an absolutely disgraceful display of heart and it might have summed up Canada’s efforts best. The squad lacked heart and hustle and their main rivals had those qualities in spades. At this point, it might not even be completely surprising if the Germans topple Canada on Tuesday.

3 Comments

  1. Brodeur got off to a terrible start as a result the whole team suffered! The US team wanted this victory and got it.

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