Canada vs. Switzerland & Olympic Recap

Canada vs. Switzerland

I was able to catch parts of two more Olympic games last night.  The first was Canada’s second warm-up game for the United States.  After beating Norway 8-0 in their first match, everyone figured Canada would look to put a beating on Switzerland.  They had had more practice time before last night’s game, and they had the lingering memory of getting beat by the Swiss 2-0 in Torino, with the impenetrable Martin Gerber in net.  Things played out a bit differently however:

CANADA NEEDS SHOOTOUT TO DEFEAT SWITZERLAND

Bet you didn’t see that one coming, eh?  With all the all-stars team Canada has, they really have no business failing to trounce the Swiss by at least 4 goals.  Yet, the Swiss do deserve recognition for playing, in my opinion, far and away the best system hockey of the tournament.  Think about this:

The Swiss are the hardest hitting team through the first two games.

Yes, you read that right.  With Brian “Im’a punch you in the mouf” Burke as general manager of team USA, and for all of Canada’s proclaimed “physicality”, it is the neutral Swiss who are making everyone else in the tournament look a little bit too finesse, a little too cute.

The Swiss were able to ride the perfect underdog script all the way up until losing in the shootout last night.  They played a tight-checking game, constantly trapping and clogging up the middle and defensive zones.  Contrast this with a quick break-out goal, and a little luck to have another goal go in off Patrick Marleau’s skate, and you’ve got yourself a 2-2 tie after regulation.  The Swiss out-hit, out-defended, out-goaltended and frankly out-hearted team Canada.  The skill of Canada was eventually too much to overcome, and luckily for the Great White North, Sid the Savior came riding in on his white steed and scored the winning SO goal. (After missing his first attempt FWIW)

Overall, this was the best game of the tournament so far.  You could sense the desperation in the building as Canada gave up its 2-0 lead and then proceeded to miss the first 3 shoot-out opportunities.  The panic was manifesting throughout the entire arena.  “Not again.”  “Not like 2006.”  Fret not Canada,  this may just end up being the wake up call your team needed.

Team USA is in the driver’s seat in their Group now (Group A).  If Team USA beats Canada on Sunday they will clinch the top seed in the group and an automatic bye to the quarterfinals.  If they lose, it is likely that they will have to play a qualification game.  Sunday, 7:30pmET, CNBC…The showdown awaits.

Other News

The Russians lost to the Slovakians late last night in a shootout that lasted 7 rounds.  Somehow Slovakia held the Russians to 1 goal.  Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Alexander Semin, Ilya Kovalchuk et. al. and they managed 1 goal.  That is great team defense and solid goaltending.  Stealing a win in the shoot-out when Pavol Demitra sent a beautifully patient flip-shot off the left post and ricocheting into the net was something special.  The first upset.  It felt good to see Mother Russia taken down early.  They are beatable, and it is possible to defend them.  Thank you to the Slovakian team for giving everyone else confidence that they can beat the Russians throughout the rest of the tournament.

The Olympics are shaping up well.  Enjoy the games while you can my friends.


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