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USA-Canada Preview (with a little bit of bronze recap)

February 28, 2010

I’m surprised “All 6 Blackhawks” wasn’t trending on Twitter before the Bronze Medal Game.  Seemed as though everyone’s favorite fact was that if Slovakia won, all 6 Hawks players in the Olympics would have gotten medals.  But alas, it was not meant to be.  Slovakia gave up 3 unanswered goals in the 3rd period (because I don’t count empty netters) to blow the 2 goal lead they entered with.  It may be cliche, but I blame both the goaltending and the refs for that one.  With the way Jaro Halak had been playing in the tournament, you’d like to see him bail out his team.  Just once and its a different game.  If he doesn’t get beat 5-hole on the breakaway, you gotta think the Slovaks come back and win.  But whatever, I know why you’re all here.

IT’S GAME DAY BITCHESSSSS!

(Note: WordPress is still a mystery to me so I don’t know how to embed this, but here’s the commercial the Hawks will be running during the game: http://blackhawks.nhl.tv/team/console.jsp?catid=894&id=61144)

Man it feels like its been about 40 days since those semifinal games, huh?  Well the hour is finally upon us.  Its time to find out which country will reign supreme for the next 4 years.

The weirdest thing about this game is that there are two underdogs coming into it, however the hell that works.  Canada lost in the prelim round, but Ron Wilson has insisted that the United States is still the underdog.  I’m not quite sure what tournament he’s been watching, but with the way Ryan Miller has been playing, I don’t see how the US can be considered an underdog.  They’re going to need him to come up big again if they want to take home the gold medal too.  Canada heavily outshot Team USA in the last game, where Miller really was the deciding factor (along with Fatty Brodeur’s blunders.)

Kane looked better in the Finland game, but then again, who didn’t?  He had two goals for his first couple of points of the tournament.  I said it on Twitter, but it bears repeating, I think that knee-to-knee hit in Columbus right before the break was bothering him a little more than we were led to believe.  Its good that he’s gotten a bit of a break with the Olympics in that none of these games count towards the Hawks standings.  Seems like the knee is looking better just in time for the end of the tournament and the restart of the season on Tuesday.

Luongo is in net for Canada.  In case you haven’t heard, Kane knows how to do some damage to Bobby Lou (I can watch that video all day). In an interview yesterday, he told reporters the book on Luongo, get him moving laterally.  Lou is a big goalie and takes up a lot of space in net.  His play since replacing Brodeur hasn’t inspired a lot of confidence, but I think it’ll be a big enough upgrade to make it a little more difficult against the American shooters.  At the very least, we won’t see him make puck handling mistakes like Marty.

Toews and Keith are going to primarily be shutdown guys.  Toews had Ovechkin on lock during the Russia game.  He was like white on rice, stink on poo, peanut butter on jelly.  Odds are on his line to do the same thing to Kane and Parise.  I’m sure he salivates at the opportunity after the shit he must have gotten from Kane at the end of their last meeting.  He sent Kaner a text yesterday saying “good luck.”  There were no reports of a text being sent back to him.

Dunc and Doughty on the back end are going to have to be solid.  Those two have been the biggest pairing for Canada lately, logging the most ice time of all Canadian skaters.  Both guys fit the same mold of shutdown defenders with some offensive skill.  Dunc has a bit more in the speed department, but Doughty makes up for that with his cannon of a shot.  These guys are going to be key to protecting Luongo if they want to take home gold.  Limit the shots, and he’ll save the ones he sees.

Keys to the Game

USA: Get Luongo moving in the crease to score.  Miller needs to make some huge saves and lead the team from the net.

Canada: Protect Luongo and learn from mistakes from prelims.  Solve the riddle that is Ryan Miller. Someone needs to step up and score.

For one day, the friendly neighbors will hate each other, but on Monday it’ll be back to business as usual.  Enjoy this game.  Odds are you won’t see this level of hockey until 2014 when we (hopefully) see plenty of Hawks playing in Sochi.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 28, 2010 10:01 AM

    Hell yeah! If the NHL doesn’t shutdown in 2014 they’re idiots

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