Olympic hockey has been anything but predictable. The early favorites have early exits, the early disappointments have Turined up the heat, and more than a few people are left scratching their heads.
Chalk it up to global growth and interest. Chalk it up to blatant nationalism that the Canadians and Americans discount Scandanavia and TRFKAC (the republics formerly known as Czechoslovakia) as hockey hotbeds. But it’s great fun to watch, and I’m now waving my little Czech flag as a sideline fan. Should the Czechs medal, I hope someone picks up a medal to go for Patrik Elias. It was Elias who skated Petr Sykora’s jersey around with the Stanley Cup in 2000 after Sykora was injured in the finals. He deserves Olympic-sized props for that.
Here are my observations on today’s quadrophenia:
Mike Modano wins the Pass The Blame Award for his post-game comments that took shots at the team selection, travel schedule and logistics. Hey, Mike, talk to some of the bobsled or speed skating athletes, who have to book their own travel and pay for their own hotel rooms without multi-million dollar league contracts. And talk to Jamie Langenbrunner, who is a better skater on the big ice, has a wicked shot, and would have been a better team player than some other selections. He’s spent the last two weeks in New Jersey, not Italy. See him complaining?
Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta actually looked like they were having fun. Maybe that’s why Gio had four goals — the US team lead in goals. Or maybe it’s because they play on the same line back in Jersey, so they know where to look for each other. Something to think about in terms of team selection: don’t take players, take centers and wings and defensive pairs who know each others’ styles.
Alex Ovechkin is scary good. I liked him before the Olympics, but the rookie from Washington blew me away several times in the past 48 hours – his big goals against the US and Canada were a start. But he also commented that he wears #8 because it was his mother’s number, and that one touched me where I live, literally. After today’s semi-final game, he looked and sounded more mature than your typical 20 year old for whom English is distant second language. Ovechkin thanked the people who got him there. He should give exit interview lessons to Mike Modano. Not just scary good talent, but scary good person too.
I’ll admit to being a bit giddy tonight. Having 15 opening night games is akin to March Madness – I don’t know what to watch first, or which highlights will really be tomorrow’s ESPN gems. The remote control got an outstanding workout.
Zach Parise: game-winning goal for the Devils. Sidney Crosby: an assist, but on the losing end of a 5-1 Devils victory. Alexander Ovechkin: 2 goals in the Capitols 3-2 win. Jeff Halpern: assisting on all three Caps goals.
However, there’s no data coming out of the Dallas-Los Angeles game, so it’s hard to check in on George Parros. Word to the NHL: let the fans blog, at least we’d know what’s going on even if there’s no official scoresheet posted.