Like many Canadians, I was glued to the TV last night for the much anticipated Canada vs USA men’s Olympic hockey match up. And like many Canadians, by the end of the game, all I could think of was “Oh no… not again.. not another Turin…”
Four years ago we were stunned when our Olympic pride and joy finished a dismal 7th place, after getting knocked out by a superior team from the great hockey powerhouse of Switzerland. There’s more than a little sarcasm there, but I give it to the Swiss.. they beat us fair and square because they outplayed us. What we had in “names” we lacked in ability to pull through when we needed it. It certainly wasn’t for a lack of talent. The Canadian squad of 4 years ago had plenty of that. They just didn’t seem to come together as a team, and were unable to find the back of the net.
But that was 4 years ago, and we’ve put that behind us, right?
This time around Team Canada is a much younger team, while still holding on to some of the great veterans with valuable Olympic experience. There’s no doubt that the team looks fantastic on paper. But what happens when they hit the ice?
The game against Norway was one-sided, but even that one started slowly, and by the first intermission they were already comparing the team’s lack of scoring to that of the Turin Olympics. Over the next 2 periods, Team Canada found the back of the net 8 times, and all was good again for Canadians.
But then came Swiss.
I think that this game was more hyped than any… Before the game even started, they ran a segment replaying the loss from Turin, and proclaiming that the time for payback had arrived. Final score? 3-2 Canada in a shoot-out. Hardly the thumping that we’d been waiting for. But a win is a win, so we didn’t complain.. too much.
Last night’s game against the Americans started poorly. I’m a big fan of Martin Brodeur, but he just didn’t seem to be on top of his game. And he wasn’t the only one. But after a few mins, the Canadians finally started to play like they were supposed to. Honestly, they should have been up by a few goals at the end of the second period if it wasn’t for the amazing play of the American goalie Ryan Miller, who was by far the best player on the ice. Final score? 5-3 Americans. (the last one was an empty net goal, so it wasn’t really as bad as it looks… but a loss is still a loss)
So rather than a free pass, and the chance to play a possibly weaker team, we have to battle to get into the quarter finals… facing off against Germany. Germany? Surely we can beat Germany, right? That’s what we thought about the Swiss in Turin. The Germans have been playing respectably, and would love to adopt the role of spoiler in these Games.
Take nothing for granted. It doesn’t matter how awesome the team looks on paper… it’s 60 minutes on the ice that matters…