Eve of the Day – USA trying to secure at least a Silver medal
You can admit it. We're all friends here.
I know you've been going over a single thought at 45rpm since Canada stomped Russia (nice no show red army).
Team USA already beat Canada once, on home soil, in a result that almost caused a national emergency. Schools shut down. Kids wept. Adults cursed. Beer was funneled. The Quebec Province was almost invited back. The ?citizens almost welcomed Global Warming to melt the ice.
To quote Bill Murray from Ghostbusters, “Cats and dogs are living together. It's mass hysteria!”
All of this reaction was due to a qualification loss where Canada dominated play for large chunks of the game where if the USA goalie with the crazy mask (Uncle Sam apparently enjoys HGH these days and oh, nice tat) was not named Miller Canada would surely have won.
So, you hit fast forward on the mental DVR and arrive at this divine notion : what if Team USA were to beat Canada, again, in the Gold Medal game on Sunday? What would happen to our northern Brothers and Sisters? A mass exodus to Greenland and Iceland?
As incredible a victory as that would be, whoa there. Slow your roll.
Team USA has a very difficult task just to get to the gold medal game.
Finland is on pushover, and moreover, they are an extremely talented team with a superb goalie (when on his game the equal of anybody ?gate keeping the net in the tournament) who are playing with a singular goal : win the Gold for Teemu Selanne, who is playing his final Olympics.
The Finnish Flash has been a sensation since his rookie season when he scored a mind bending 76 goals (ah, the old days).
So how will the game go? How will each team approach the game?
Finland will stick to their defensive system (almost all Euro teams play a form of the 1-4 trap), rely on Miikka Kiprusoff to make big saves, and hope to dent the twine when they get an odd man rush or 4 sent their way by Team USA's pinching D.
As for Team USA, their game plan will remain the same. Pitch and punish.
Dump the puck into corners, come flying in at full speed with 2, and sometimes 3 men, and plaster the Finnish D face first into the boards until they ?whimper and cry Uncle Sam.
For the majority of you at work, I am going to update this blog after each period, so keep this page up, and refresh every 10 minutes or so, and you will get detailed updates. It will almost be like you are watching it.
2:42pm No pre-game coverage available on NBC, MSNBC, or CNBC. Excellent job. We do, however, get to enjoy Dr. Oz on the east coast. How wonderful.
3:03pm They are on the ice and Ryan Miller is sporting the playoff beard in full effect.
1st Period :
17:56 GOAL USA!What a gigantic gaffe by Finland goalie Miikka Kiprusoff. USA chips the puck out of the zone after being hemmed in for the first 2 minutes of the game. Phil Kessel rockets up the ice to try and sneak a breakaway. Miikka comes out to play the puck and attempts a soft pass to his D man. Ryan Malone picks it off, fires it in, and 1-0 USA.
Great pressure by Phil, but WOW, what were you thinking Miikka?!
USA almost goes up 2-0 after a give-and-go with Kane and Rafalski turns into a point shot that gets through with a massive screen in front of Kiprusoff. The rebound is available, but USA cannot get to it.
13:29 2-0 USA!A dumb penalty taken by the Finnish D attempting to full nelson Dustin Brown on the forecheck leads to a power play, where the pop fly by a deflected pass lands near the stick of Paul Stastny. He makes no mistake, sending a perfect cross crease pass to Zach Parise, who buries his 3rd goal of the Olympics up high top corner.
USA is controlling play with their agression, hitting, and ill willed forecheck.
Finland needs to badly compose themselves.
Buffalo Sabres fans sure know the affinity Finland D man Toni Lydman has for taking stupid penalties, they just don't expect that penalty to be taken until the end of the game! Boarding on Dustin Brown. Mindless penalty. Back to the PP for Team USA.
11:24 3-0 USA! Yet ANOTHER terrible play by Kiprusoff. Very uncharacteristic of him. He nearly falls down on the wraparound attempt, and is prone on the ice for USA D man Eric Johnson to wire the puck over his left shoulder. PP goal Erick Johnson.
The Finns just called their timeout. They are going to need an exorcist to reverse the trend of this game!
9:52 4-0 USA! This is getting ugly FAST. Turnover at the USA blueine, a sin for any player, but especially for a professional, leads to a USA Patrick Kane rush the other way. Dustin Brown drives the net. Patrick Kane shows the hands of a surgeon, waits, waits, fires a shot with Brown partially sceening Kiprusoff. Miikka has rebounds coming off him like he is a rubber wall, and Kane says thank you and deposits the loose change into the net.
Anyone seen Team Finland? They are certainly not in the arena today!
7:30 5-0 USA!What an unbelievable all world pass by USA D man Brian Rafalski, who throws almost a no look pass around his back while skating towards his own end, hitting Patrick Kane perfectly on the fly. Kane and Dustin Brown are in on a 2-on-1 break. ane decoys Brown, fires it low blocker and beats the backup goaltender Nicklas Backstrom who replaced Kiprusoff.
Finland could use a Sumo wrestler in pads in goal and it wouldn't matter.
This is a tidal wave by Team USA.
7:15 6-0 USA!That is not a typo. The Finns should be ashamed of their play. Zach Parise punishes the doughy soft pass by the Finland D, passes out of the corner to Jamie Langenbrunner, who sends a touch pass right to the tape of Paul Stastny. Goal! Backstrom must be getting some of the sunburn from the red light that Kiprusoff experienced earlier.
The 1st period is, mercifully, over for the Finns. The USA unleashed the fury and dropped a deluge of 6 goals on Finland. They have yet to kick the extra point.
From top to bottom, this has been a dystopian nightmare for every Finn player, and especially Miikka Kiprusoff.
It was an embarrassing 'performance' by Miikka.
Ryan Miller, on the other hand, could have played the first 16 minutes in a tuxedo and not had a button out of place.
This just in, boarding passes being accepted for all Team Finland players to their destination of choice out of Vancouver.
2nd Period : Nothing of note other than the Finns deciding the way to make their mark in the game would be to play dirty. First you had the first class clown Jarko Ruutu 'accidentally' fall on Ryan Miller, not once, but twice while Ryan was holding the puck for a stoppage. On top of that, when Ruutu got up, he was sure to put his knee directly into Miller's back to support himself.
You also had Ollie Jokinen, who might as well be the invisible man with how he disappears in big games, spear the foot of Patrick Kane while the Ruutu scrum was going on.
Both Finns only did this because they knew there is no fighting allowed in the Olympics.
If fighting was allowed, both would have received several gloves to the face to mull over their gutless, idiotic acts.
3rd Period : Much of the same from the 2nd period. Clear the zone, move the puck up the ice, dump it in, a light forecheck, repeat, and rinse. Finland did score on the Power Play after USA removed Miller for pure preservation to avoid any injury after watching the uber chippy Finns start getting dirty. Good to see Tim Thomas get his first action this Olympics. Also funny to watch all the fans with maple leafs on their jerseys chear loudly when Finland got their solo tally. Applauding the Finns for finally getting off the snide or more anti-USA applause? Fear thy deadliest enemy? I think so.
Team USA overwhelmed the Finns early and were aided greatly by some shoddy, swiss cheese resembling, brain fart goaltending by Miikka Kiprusoff, but let's be clear : Team USA was winning this game regardless with the way they played. The only question was margin of victory.
So now one half of the dream final is set. Time for the vaunted Maple Leaf to hold up their end of the bargain tonight at 9:30 east.
That game could easily end up a blowout like this game did, but don't sleep on the Slovaks, and Halak.
Enjoy the Gold Medal game Team USA, Sunday at 3pm on NBC in the states.
About the Author
Written by William Brouillette