Olympic Blog 

With blogs becoming ever so popular on the Internet, who am I to shy away?  The interesting Ice Hockey tournament schedule at the Olympics got me to thinking it might be nice to write a little something everyday, as things happen.  Iíve made this a permanent part of the website, and will continue writing something every day or two.  Just another innovation to keep the puck talk going strong!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

1:54 PM - Sweden 3  Finland 2 - The Swedes pulled it off.  I never made it out of bed in time to see the game, but just catching some highlights, and it appears to have been quite a game.  Finland appeared to have their biggest challenge of these games.  They did everything right - they scored the first goal of the game - but I think their falling out was taking penalties in the 2nd - Sweden had their powerplay going.  Finland just couldn't score late when they needed to, but it wasn't from a lack of trying.  Henrik Lundqvist was equal to Antero Nittymaki, and never looked back when Nicklas Lidstrom scored what would be the game winning goal in the 3rd, an emphatic blast from the point.  Teppo Numminen hit the post late in the game.

  

Nittymaki was voted the tournament's MVP - not surprising given his record in this tournament.  It's little consolation though.  Think of J.S. Giguere winning the Conn Smythe in a losing cause.  These players would both tell you they'd trade their MVP award for the Championship trophy any day of the week.  Finland can certainly be proud of their silver medal, even if it doesn't feel so good right now.  You have to think this team will be force for many international events to come - especially if the core players on this team are part of the mix.

Daniel Alfredsson has had a very eventful past couple of years.  While the NHL was in lockout mode, he helped lead the Swedish Elite League's Frolunda team to a championship, and now he has Olympic Gold.  "It's an incredible feeling to be able to pull this off.  I'm overwhelmed. It's impossible to describe."

Is an Art Ross trophy on the way, not to mention a Conn Smythe trophy and/or Stanley Cup?  We'll find out in less than four months.

The closing ceremonies will take place at the top of the hour, and the Winter Olympic Flame will be extinguished for four more years.  They're interviewing Avril Lavigne as I type this.  I can't believe this girl is from Napanee, Ontario.

Canada produced their best medal output ever, with 24 total.  Cindy Klassen broke a medals record, medalling in 6 total events - more than any other Canadian - ever!  For me though, being a hockey guy, it's little consolation as the Men's hockey team came up short. 

Wait until Vancouver welcomes the world in 2010 - it will be a blast!

Writing this blog every day has been a lot of fun.  This Olympic blog will be archived for those of you who missed out on reading it - I'll be submitting it with Sports Byline as my next Puckin' Around article.  The NHL is back in business on Tuesday, so keep checking back.  Look out for those teams who had NHL players in the finals at the Olympics - they will be a sight to see I can assure you.

 

Saturday, February 25, 2006

8:12 PM - Czech Republic 3  Russia 0 - The Czechs win the Bronze medal, as Russia is shutout for the second straight game.  I know it's a moot point to dwell on what ifs, but do you get the feeling if Canada was ever able to muster any offense they would be here?  The Czech Republic players, as enigmatic as they've been throughout the tournament, really appeared to want this one more, and if there was ever a game they wanted to show up for, this was the one.  One might make the argument they're a day late, but at least they're on the podium - again.

The New York Rangers and Nashville Predators can only benefit from what the Czech players have been able to do here, especially Tomas Vokoun, Martin Erat and Marek Zidlicky.  All three were huge in this game.  It's obvious to me nobody pays much attention to Nashville, because all I've heard throughout the entire tournament is "who is this guy"?  The most underrated goalie in the NHL, that's who!

Surprisingly, Alex Ovechkin was held off the scoresheet for the second straight game.  I don't have the exact stats, but has that happened in the NHL all season?  I sincerely doubt it.

I can't help but wonder just how many will actually get up at 8:00 AM to watch the Finland-Sweden final.  Maybe I'll get up at 9:00-9:30, but no earlier!

Should be a good one, all things considered.

 

Friday, February 24, 2006

2:16 AM - The fallout continues.  Wasn't much more I could have said yesterday that hasn't already been said on the radio, T.V., and on the Internet.  But I will say this - a LOT can happen in 4 years.  The local station in Ottawa, the Team 1200, was on the air until 11:00 PM Wednesday night.  To put this in perspective, normally they switch over to Fox Sports Radio around 7-8 PM every night, unless there's a Senators game.

Mike Modano boarded a plane and headed home to Dallas on Thursday, almost 24 hours before the rest of Team U.S.A. were scheduled to leave Torino.  Word is there was some animosity between Modano and the coach Peter Laviolette.  In case you missed the game against Finland, he was on the bench for the entire 3rd period.

"A lot of guys have been there for many years and maybe we need some new blood in there to run things a little differently," said Modano, "It's probably time some things changed."

"You'd think U.S.A. Hockey would be a well-oiled machine, but it's not," he said. "Basically we were on our own for hotels, tickets, flights, stuff like that."

It's the Olympics, Mike, not the NHL.  OK, OK, sure, I understand things could potentially get disorganized considering some players had to play up until the Sunday before the tournament started, and I know weather was a huge factor in a few players even making it on time - but Mike, you weren't the only one.  So where's the real beef here, with the NHL for not shutting down sooner, or with the IOC for not delaying the Olympics a couple of days?  I guess we'll never really know.

At least they didn't trash their hotel rooms again.

A couple of NHL notes - add CuJo to the list of goalies coveted by Edmonton - apparently; Lou Lamoriello will coach New Jersey for the balance of this season; and Bryan Marchment could return to Calgary before the playoffs.  No more word on the Rick Tocchet affair, yet.

I'll check in later on this afternoon/evening once we know who plays for medals.  Take care.

11:30 AM - Sweden 4  Czech Republic 1 - 2nd Period - Goals from P.J. Axelsson, Fredrik Modin, one of the Sedin twins and Christian Backman have the Swedes in the lead.  Pavel Kubina has the lone Czech goal.  Not surprisingly, neither team seems willing to open up the ice or get on the body.

Tomas Vokoun still hasn't seen any ice time since the first period of the Canada game.  With a score like this, you wonder why...

11:38 - Sweden 5  Czech Republic 1 - Jorgen Jonsson has just scored a power play goal, and now Vokoun is coming into the game.

Czech power play coming up...turning point coming up?

11:44 - Look out!  Ales Hemsky scored on the power play I mentioned, and Vaclav Prospal has just scored again to make the score 5-3...and they're pressing for more...

12:54 PM - Sweden 7  Czech Republic 3 - Final - A little bit too late for the Czechs, as Daniel Alfredsson and Tomas Holmstrom (not to mention Henrik Lundqvist) added exclamation points to the victory.  Sweden will play for Gold against either Finland or Russia.  Their fate will be decided starting at 3:00 PM.

3:22 PM - Finland 1  Russia 0 - 1st Period - Olli Jokinen has opened the scoring in the second Semi-Final game.  Russia is on a power play right now but you'd never say it.  Again, the Finns have come to play.

Of note in this game, Evgeni Malkin is serving a suspension for kicking Vincent Lecavalier during the Russia-Canada game.  However, the Russians still have Ovechkin.

6:31 PM - Finland 4  Russia 0 - Final - Finland vs Sweden for Gold, Czech Republic vs Russia for Bronze.  Who woulda thunk it - Ovechkin held scoreless?!

After Finland went ahead 2-0 (in fact I think it was 3-0 by the time I left), I decided get out for a nice brisk winter walk.  I didn't think there'd be any point in sticking around, given the way the Finns have dominated this tournament.  Through 7 games, they've only allowed 5 goals.  5 of the games have been shutouts.  Is Philadelphia going to be a scary team coming back from the break or what (how do you even think of playing Robert Esche after this)?

Didn't Ville Peltonen play in the NHL at one point, and if so, why isn't he still?

It was said during the 2004 World Cup of Hockey that the final game between Canada and Finland was the biggest in the history of their country.  Even though they lost to Canada at the time, I think they learned a great deal about what it takes to win at the International level.  If they win one more, it will be their first ever Gold - and well deserved.

With the focus (somewhat) off of Hockey in Canada for now - the big news today was Curling - Brad Gushue of Newfoundland won Canada's first ever Gold Medal in Men's Curling.  The women won Bronze yesterday.  Canada hasn't done too badly since the first Curling event was held at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano.  We've either been close to or on the podium every time.  There's just something about Canada and those sports played on Ice...

 

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

1:34 PM - It's Quarter-Finals day!

Sweden 6  Switzerland 2 - So the Swedes decided to turn it on when it counts.  Let's give Switzerland a lot of credit - they played hard.

Do any of you reading this ever get the feeling that Mats Sundin and Daniel Alfredsson should be playing for the same NHL team?  If the rumors in Toronto are true, what would it take to make Sundin a Senator?  John Muckler are you listening?

Finland 4  U.S.A. 2 - 3rd Period - Just tuning in to see Teemu Selanne hunched over on the ice with a bloody lip - apparently Derian Hatcher got him with a follow-thru - The linesman called a double minor penalty for high sticking - but nothing doing in the goals department.  Teppo Numminen just took an offsetting minor for taking down a short handed break for the Americans, who have 9 minutes to tie up the game.  Brian Gionta has just taken another penalty.

Less than a hour before Canada-Russia faces off.  Bring it on!!!

1:44 PM - Finland 4  U.S.A. 3 - Gionta has redeemed himself with 4:27 to go in the game - what a great "Finn-ish" we have coming!

1:54 PM - Finland is off to the Semi-finals - something that didn't appear to be in doubt given their record so far.  The winner of Russia-Canada will face them on Friday.

3:14 PM - Canada 0  Russia 0 - 1st Intermission - A fairly even game so far - both teams are fore checking hard, and Russia so far would appear to have a slight skill edge with Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Ovechkin, but both the Canadian defense and goalie Martin Brodeur are so far equal to the task.  Russia leads 11-7 in shots on goal.  Most notable Canadian players so far have been Shane Doan, especially on the penalty kill, and Joe Thornton, who is trying to do it all himself.

Towards the end of the period, Canada started to gain a little momentum and get their cycling game going.  With the weaker Russian defense, you have to think eventually they'll make a mistake, or start a parade to the penalty box.  You get the feeling that as soon as one team scores, the floodgates will open.  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my main man of the hour, Captain Canada himself, Ryan Smyth - in the right spot all the time, in his office, in front of the net.  I think he may have drawn one of the Russian penalties.  We'll see if he can get Nabokov off his game - he loves to frustrate goaltenders in the crease, he's been doing it all year!

All of Canada is hoping for the health of Simon Gagne, as he took a bone crunching hip check, from who else?  Darius Kasparaitis.  Make no mistake, it was a clean, hard, hit.

Isn't it nice to see Don Cherry and Brian Williams together again?  At the very least, nostalgic...

By the way, Canada just won another Silver Medal in Speed Skating - that's 4 medals today...

3:24 PM - Russia starts the 2nd with a power play - a bench minor for abuse of the official?!?  Apparently Pat Quinn was beaking at the ref a little too much as they left the ice after the 1st.

Update on Simon Gagne, he will return - must have just got the wind knocked out of him.  Watch out, he'll score on his first shift - mark my words...and here he comes back to the bench...

Canada killed off the penalty...

3:48 PM - Do you get the feeling there will be many delay of game penalties when the NHL resumes, both for goalies playing where they're not allowed, and for players shooting the puck over the glass?  In the Olympics it's a defensive play...

Still no score and we're almost through 2 periods.  The Russians are badly outshooting Canada, but Brodeur is the game star, again.  Iginla and Sakic had a good chance shorthanded.

Apparently nobody told Bob Cole or Harry Neale how to pronounce Ilya Kovalchuk's name...or that the Russian goalie legend Tretiak's first name is Vladeslav, not Vladimir...

2 minutes to go...penalty coming up to the Russians...

3:55 PM - Canada 0  Russia 0 - 2nd Intermission - We're in for an awesome 3rd!

In the last quarter final game of the day - the Czechs lead the Slovaks 1-0 late in the 1st - Martin Rucinsky scored a shorthanded goal - but it's still early in this one.

Canada advances to the Men's Curling final - so at least another silver medal is guaranteed.  Watch out Germany, we're coming!!

4:14 PM - Russia 1  Canada 0 - Alexander Ovechkin has the first goal of the game less than 2 minutes into the 3rd period - a power play goal.  If this score holds up, Todd Bertuzzi will never hear the end of it - he took the Interference penalty.

Penalty coming up against Russia...

Apparently Simon Gagne is skipping the 3rd period as a precautionary measure - so much for my prediction...

What the hell is that Blue stuff Ovechkin is drinking?  Powerade I hope...

4:45 PM - Russia 2  Canada 0 - There will be a new Gold Medal winner in 2006.  Alexei Kovalev has iced it late with a power play goal.

My money's on Finland.

As Wayne Gretzky looks on with a forlorn look, you have to wonder what might have been.  Bad penalties at bad times.  A team of superstars that couldn't play as a team.  They will ask again why Bertuzzi was on the team (and why Staal and Spezza were not), why Pronger couldn't keep his stick on the ice, and most importantly, why couldn't Canada score?

So, Canada and the U.S. were Gold and Silver last time around, this time around they won't even make the podium.  Maybe in 2010 in Vancouver?

Speaking of Vancouver, it hasn't been a good day for the Canucks - Bertuzzi with the bad penalty, and injuries to both Mattias Ohlund and Sami Salo round out the bad luck.  With Ed Jovanovski already on the shelf, you have to wonder how they will fare down the stretch.

5:04 PM - Czech Republic 2  Slovakia 0 - 2nd Intermission.  Milan Hejduk has the second Czech goal.  Sweden plays the winner of this game.

5:22 PM - Czech Republic 2  Slovakia 1 - Marian Gaborik has the Slovaks on the board in the 3rd.

5:47 PM - Slovakia, after having gone through the preliminary round 5-0, are going home.  The Czech Republic will play Sweden after winning their quarterfinal game by a score of 3-1.

Even though this Olympic tournament is over for four teams, it is far from being decided.

6:29 PM - Just listening to some of the fallout over Team Canada's loss on The Team 1200 in Ottawa, and some guy who goes by the name Mr. Vegas, was in Las Vegas and apparently had a $10,000 bet down on Team Canada - Ouch!  He's apparently embarrassed, but it's unknown if he's embarrassed over the stupid bet or embarrassed for the country.  Given the way Team Canada played in the tournament, I wouldn't even have bought a $2 Pro-Line ticket.

It just goes to show - you CAN'T bet with your heart.  I feel for you Mr. Vegas...

8:03 PM - There's a story developing tonight that says the whole Rick Tocchet affair may get dropped.  There's talk Tocchet is counter-suing over the wire tap situation.  Apparently it's illegal in New Jersey state to make wire tap evidence public before it's heard in a court of law.  The thought is the countersuit may force the authorities in N.J. to drop their case against Tocchet.

Now I wonder this, and forgive me for thinking this but I can't help it - I'm Canadian - was this whole Rick Tocchet affair just a ploy to try and get Wayne Gretzky and Team Canada off their game?  How ironic is it now Canada has been ousted from the tournament that this story is coming down the pipe?  And don't even go there with me about the Steve Moore lawsuit against Todd Bertuzzi on the same day the tournament started.  It just seems to me like too much of a coincidence, but I'll leave it to you readers to draw your own conclusion.

I'll be following this story more as it happens.

So that's all for today - I'll keep the Blog updated as the Olympic tournament continues to unfold.  I've learned throughout the last couple of weeks that I really enjoy checking in daily like this, and I think keeping it going it will only help.  If you don't write, you won't know this, but I've found myself many times in the past little while struggling to put material together, even though things happen all the time.  I've learned that if I write about things as they're fresh in my mind, it can only make my future Puckin' Around articles all the better.  Stay tuned folks!  This blog is alive and well!

 

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

10:48 AM - Canada 1  Czech Republic 0 - FINALLY a goal - almost 8 minutes in!  Brad Richards, assisted by Jarome Iginla.  And they're looking for more...penalty coming up!

10:52 AM - Canada 2  Czech Republic 0 - Power Play Goal - Martin St. Louis scores from Mario Lemieux' favorite angle (almost on the goal line) - but they don't ask how, they just ask how many...

I don't know what's with Harry Neale - I know he has to maintain a neutral attitude, but twice now he's said "I don't know what Vokoun was thinking on that one"

11:04 AM - Canada 3  Czech Republic 0 - 1st Intermission - Chris Pronger scored with one of his signature blasts from the blue line during the final minute of the 1st period.  This was after about 2 minutes of good pressure from the Czechs.  I don't think we're going to be seeing Roberto Luongo again the way Martin Brodeur is playing in this game.

11:24 AM - 2nd period underway - Tomas Vokoun has been pulled in favor of Milan Hnilicka.

11:54 AM - Canada 3  Czech Republic 1 - 2nd Intermission - The Czechs are on the board courtesy of Pavel Kubina on a two-man advantage - Canada got into penalty trouble and appear to have dodged a bullet going into the 3rd.  Discipline boys - now's not the time to get "Dopey"!

12:14 PM - Petr Cajanek has just scored to make it 3-2, but Brodeur is putting on a show trying to keep Canada ahead!  Unfortunately - it's off to work now, but I'll be able to at least catch the final five minutes - in High Definition no less!!!!!

11:05 PM - It was almost a shame I had to go to work during what was one of the most interesting parts of the game - but Marty was the man - again!  Canada finishes the round robin 3-2 and will face Russia in the Quarterfinals.  There's no margin for error now, and I think they're finally realizing it.

So Sweden loses to Slovakia 3-0 - but they didn't even play their money goalie Lundqvist, so you be the judge whether or not they threw the game.  There's certainly no rule against it, but I'm still not understanding why they would.  They will get to play Switzerland.  Given the way they played during the round robin, I'm not sure why Sweden would prefer them over Canada or the Czechs - here's hoping the wheels fall off and fast - similar to what we saw in the World Cup - I know this - the entire Swedish community is up in arms over the very thought of the team throwing a game!  This certainly isn't what the Olympics are about.

Finland will play the U.S.A., which will be another interesting game, given almost the very same teams faced off in the last World Cup semifinal.  By the way - everybody in Canada was upset over two straight shutout losses - Team U.S.A. only has one win the whole tournament and three points!  If it wasn't for the tie (against Latvia of all teams), Kazakhstan might be playing in their place!  Go figure.  The round robin means absolutely nothing now.

They used to be one team, but now the Czech Republic will play against Slovakia for the right to move on to the Semi-Finals.  It's going to be a real barn burner you can be sure of that!

In any event - I won't be leaving you readers hanging anymore!  I've taken tomorrow and Friday off as vacation days, and I intend to watch every game I can between now and Sunday morning.  I don't know why they didn't schedule the Bronze and Gold Medal games the same day, but what are you going to do?

Talk to you tomorrow during what will be a very interesting day!  Go Canada Go!

 

Monday, February 20, 2006

11:58 PM - Well by now you all know the Canadian Women's team are the Gold Medal Champions again.  Well deserved I might add - how can you outscore your opposition 44-2 and NOT be the Champions?  You gotta love Hayley Wickenheiser - played with a broken wrist for three games, and still led the team in scoring with 5 goals, 12 assists!  That woman is tough - she could throw a check with the best of them in the NHL - I guarantee it!  I wonder if they would let her play on the Men's team?  They could sure use her.

Sweden is to be commended for even being in the Gold Medal final to begin with.  Finland on the other hand has some work to do before the next Women's tournament - but they didn't fare too badly considering they had to play Canada and the U.S.A. as their final two opponents.

The Americans saved face and won the Bronze - 4-0 was the final score.  It was Canada by a 4-1 count over Sweden, but it was 4-0 for most of the game.

As expected, today there was a lot of hoopla over the Men's version of Team Canada.  After suffering back to back shutouts, everybody and their dog were trying to find answers.  I think Pat Quinn said it best with what has become his favorite adjective - "Dopey" (Leaf fans know this one all too well).  While we're talking dwarfs, we may as well add "Sleepy" to the list.

In any event, Wayne Gretzky, as he often does, hit the nail on the head.  The younger players need to step up and help the veterans.  Yes, it would be nice to have an Yzerman or a Lemieux on the team, but Sakic and Iginla aren't chopped liver either.  Neither are Ryan Smyth and Dany Heatley, veterans of the International circuit.  Let's see some of the same passion the Women showed throughout their entire tournament.  It must come from within the team, not from the individual.

Canada will face the Czech Republic at 10:30 in their final gimme game before the Quarterfinals start on Wednesday.  As I said before, I really get the feeling the Czechs aren't going to know what hit them if Canada is really truly serious about winning this whole thing.  Forget about what you've seen so far - the real tournament starts now.  Let's get Wickenheiser in the dressing room for a pep talk before the game - that'll get them fired up!

I read a story today which I was absolutely appalled by - it's expected Team Sweden may decide to throw their final round robin game against Slovakia to try and gain a more favorable opponent.  I mean, if you're not going to come to the Olympics to play with your heart on your sleeve, stay home.  How do you set an example for some of the premier NHL players in the world by doing something like that - particularly those who are going for a Stanley Cup (Daniel Alfredsson anyone)?  If Sweden loses tomorrow, I hope they get blown out by whoever they do play in the quarterfinals - by 10 goals.

See you tomorrow morning.

 

Sunday, February 19, 2006

2:27 PM - Just getting ready to settle in and watch Canada take on Finland - you know, I can't believe the big deal everyone's making over Switzerland's victory yesterday.  They are a good team riding a hot goalie, a much better team than anybody gave them credit for.  In any event, if Canada can win the rest of their games, they will still finish on top of Pool A - so relax everyone.

Anyhow, the U.S.A. are in danger of bowing out of the medal round.  It doesn't seem likely that Latvia will win their final game, but if they do, and the Americans lose, it will come down to goal differential.  Both are tied in the Goals For department right now with 9 each.  I'm not sure if Goals Against factor in to the equation, but if they do, Latvia doesn't have a hope, unless Russia can put 25 goals or more on the board against the U.S.  It's getting interesting.

Unless Italy can come back and beat the Czech Republic, it's not looking good for the home team.  Italy must win and get some help from Canada to qualify for the quarter finals.  Right now, they are trailing 2-0 in the 1st period.

Other scores from this morning - Sweden 2  U.S.A. 1, Slovakia 2  Kazakhstan 1, Germany 2  Switzerland 2, and Russia 9  Latvia 2.

I'll be back with a 1st Intermission report on Canada-Finland.

3:41 PM - Finland 2  Canada 0 - 1st Intermission - Finland has come out hard in this game.  I've always been amazed at how similar in style the Finns are to the Canadian style of play.  They always seem to place 2nd or 3rd best to Canada, and they seem determined this time around to get over the hump.  Put simply, Finland looks like they want this game more.  They're already 3-0 and have only allowed 2 goals the whole tournament.  Shots are 14-5 in favor of, guess who?

Canada needs to adjust - they just seem to be a team who is trying to find their identity (as a matter of fact, Ron MacLean and Kelly Hrudey are talking about this very thing as I type this) - they have to stop trying to break out one on one, because Finland is positioning themselves perfectly.  You've heard of the neutral zone trap? - the Swedish invented it on the international ice surface, and the Finns are executing it to perfection.  Forget about the two line pass, send 2 men up, short passes on the tape, have puck support and try to break through the trap and forecheck, forecheck, forecheck!!!

40 minutes still to come - if Canada can get their game going, it's going to be a dandy the rest of the way.  It already is.

The Czech Republic lead 3-0 over Italy going into the 3rd.

4:02 PM - Canada has come back out with a purpose in the second period.  They're doing all the little things I said they needed to.  This is more like it.  Look out if they get on the board!!!

4:33 PM - Second Intermission - Canada had many chances to get on the board, probably the best was a breakaway by Rick Nash - Hey Ricky - for the love of God - Deke!!!  Antero Nittymaki is making it look easy.  Miikka who?

The key now for Canada is score, twice.  They haven't scored a goal in almost six periods of hockey now.  First period goals by Teemu Selanne and Niko Kapanen are still holding up.  One might think, oh well, 2 goals isn't that much to worry about - but this is not the New NHL.

Czech Republic 4  Italy 1 - Final score - Italy is out, but give them a round of applause just for showing up on the ice.  It's all about positioning now.  Finland, Canada, Switzerland and the Czech Republic will advance to the quarterfinals.  Pool B isn't set in stone just yet.

5:16 PM - Final Score - Finland 2  Canada 0 - Finland still has one more game to play, but regardless of the outcome, they will finish first in Pool A, which means they'll get to face the fourth seed in Pool B.  At this point, it would appear that fourth seed could wind up being none other than the U.S.A.  The way this team is playing, they can't be ruled out for a medal.

I feel sorry for the Czech Republic on Tuesday.  Canada will not be a happy team after being shut out for two straight games.  I also feel sorry for all the Sports Talk radio announcers who have to take calls tomorrow.

 

Saturday, February 18, 2006

10:09 AM - Switzerland 1  Canada 0 - 1st Intermission - Former Montreal Canadien's player Paul DiPietro has scored the only goal of the game so far.  Not a great start for Canada.  Martin Gerber is looking like his usual self.

10:43 AM - Switzerland 2  Canada 0 - Canada has managed to get themselves in penalty trouble by playing a little too physical, and Paul DiPietro has made them pay with his second goal of the game.

10:51 AM - I don't know what Pat Quinn said to the players but they are playing with a real sense of urgency as they try to get back into this game.  I'd like to know what's going through Wayne Gretzky's mind at the moment - he certainly doesn't look thrilled with the result so far.

11:23 AM - 2nd Intermission - They called it inconclusive, but as Greg Millen pointed out, the one camera angle that could have been the determining factor is not even set up correctly!  How could the organizers of the Olympic Hockey tournament overlook such a critical detail?  What the hell am I talking about?  The cameras that are above the net are supposed to be aligned in such a way so that the crossbar doesn't get in the way of the ice behind the goal line.  Had they aligned that camera properly I'd bet you $100 that puck off of Rick Nash's stick was in the net in Martin Gerber's glove.  But what are you going to do?  Switzerland 2  Canada 0 - Canada has the 3rd period to catch up and has 12 seconds of power play time to gain back some momentum.

12:12 PM - Final score - Switzerland 2  Canada 0?  It's in the books.

I called Switzerland as a possible dark horse in this tournament, but I never imagined they'd have back to back victories against two of the better teams playing in it - they beat the Czechs and now the Canadians?

Fans of the Carolina Hurricanes won't be too surprised to see Martin Gerber stop 49 shots for the shutout - he's been unbelievable all year long - part of the reason I predict Switzerland will enjoy a very strong tournament.  How about Paul DiPietro?  A former Stanley Cup winner, now the catalyst on the Swiss National team.  Another Montreal Canadiens stalwart, Mark Streit, is also playing key minutes on the power play and penalty kill.

They're already calling it the biggest victory in Swiss hockey history.  I guess it goes to show there's always a first time for everything - this is the first time Canada has ever lost to Switzerland in International play, but they didn't make it easy on themselves either with a parade to the penalty box.  They must still be in that NHL groove where they think they might get away with one or two, but this referee that was calling the game, give him credit, all of the calls (well maybe not the Pronger slash in the crease) were legit.  I don't think he missed one infraction on either side.  By the way, how many of you had a flashback of the Bertuzzi on Moore hit when he hauled down the Swiss player by grabbing onto the back of his sweater?  I know I did.

Canada will have to forget this one in a hurry and get right back out there tomorrow for another big test - Finland.  As uLAr mentions on the Saturday Picks page, they haven't allowed a goal in this tournament, yet!  Discipline boys, Discipline - you can bet that will be the message Pat Quinn will be sending to the whole squad.

2:01 PM - uLAr brought this one up to me - how do you only beat Kazakhstan by a 1-0 count?  I guess we'd have to ask Russia that very question.  The game was long over by the time I got up to watch Canada-Switzerland, it was a 5:30 AM start.  I know Ovechkin is the real deal, but there was NO way in hell I was getting up that early to watch it.  As it turned out, Pittsburgh prospect Evgeni Malkin assisted on the only Russian goal, scored by former Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick Alexander Kharitonov, who has played in Moscow the past couple of seasons.  NY Islanders fans know him as well, he was part of the Adrian Aucoin trade in 2001.

Sweden pummeled Latvia by a score of 6-1.  Daniel Alfredsson is up to his old tricks again.  Now he needs to bring that back to Ottawa with him, not that he hasn't produced all season, but he was in a bit of a rut before the break started.

The Americans and Slovakia are scoreless about four minutes in - the great wall of Chara and Meszaros against a team that will need a Miracle of 1980 proportions to even make it on the podium.  Finland and the Czechs will also play this afternoon.  It's heating up, but there's still a long way to go.

2:35 PM - U.S.A. 0  Slovakia 0 - 1st Intermission - Rick DiPietro just made an outstanding save on Miroslav Satan to keep the game scoreless.  Very fast pace to this game so far!

3:15 PM - Slovakia 1  U.S.A. 0 - Marian Hossa has scored a power play goal in the second period to give Slovakia the lead.

3:20 PM - Czech Republic 1  Finland 0 - The Czechs have the first goal in the other game this afternoon.  Not sure who scored it yet.

3:23 PM - Slovakia 1  U.S.A. 1 - Brian Rolston has drawn the Americans even late in the 2nd.  Still looking into that Czech Republic goal as the horn has just sounded to end the period.

3:29 PM - Czech Republic 1  Finland 1 - Saku Koivu made a beautiful feed to OIli Jokinen to tie the game.  Marek Zidlicky has the Czech goal.  Finland appears to have all the momentum right now after the goal.

Does anybody know the whereabouts of Jaromir Jagr?  I see him on the ice, but I don't see much more.

3:45 - Slovakia 2  U.S.A. 1  - Peter Bondra has given his team the lead early in the 3rd period.

4:05 PM - NHL Injury Update - I've just heard news that Montreal Canadiens' goaltender Jose Theodore has slipped on a patch of ice outside of his house (on a step apparently) and broken his heel - apparently will miss 6-8 weeks.  Must have been too much hair in his face, couldn't see where he was walking.  In his absence, Cristobal Huet will most likely win the top netminder job for the Habs, and Yann Danis will probably get called up for the backup job.

4:36 PM - Czech Republic 2  Finland 2 - 2nd Intermission.  Of note here, Jarkko Ruutu has been kicked out of the game for a serious boarding hit on Jaromir Jagr that left him with a bad cut above his eye.  Jagr won't return.

Slovakia 2  U.S.A. 1 - This is now a final score.  Slovakia is now 3-0.

4:48 PM - Finland 3  Czech Republic 2 - Teemu Selanne scored during the first 30 seconds of the 3rd period to give Finland the lead.  Saku Koivu has another assist.

9:33 PM - So both Finland and Slovakia are 3-0 in the Men's Hockey Olympic tournament.  Finland beat the Czechs by a final score of 4-2.  Jaromir Jagr apparently will be ready to go for tomorrow's game against Italy.

At this stage of the game, the Czech Republic are in danger of falling out of fourth place in the standings, which would put them out of the medal round.  Although it's a remote chance at best, if they lose to both Italy and Canada, then the host team Italy will make it to the Medal round, which in all honesty wouldn't be a bad thing.  Highly unlikely, but then again who expected Switzerland to beat Canada today?

Finally, some good news on the injury front.  Joe Sakic took a high stick during the Switzerland game, and it was thought he may have fractured a cheek bone.  It's being reported now that X-Rays are negative - good news if you're pulling for Canada.  Didn't Sakic injure a knee in Nagano around the same time of the round robin?

Tomorrow the blog will be lighter than usual as the Canada-Finland game isn't until the afternoon at 3:00 PM.  Finally I get to sleep in.  You can bet one of the line match-ups will have Jarkko Ruutu against his Vancouver Canucks teammate Todd Bertuzzi - two of the best agitators in the game head to head.  Ruutu better watch the head shots though.  Talk to you all then!!

 

Friday, February 17, 2006

10:55 PM - T.G.I.F.!!!!!  For some reason this week seemed longer than usual.  Perhaps it's the bad weather, the evening shift, or the anticipation of some of the best hockey of the year.

It appears I spoke way too soon about a Canada-U.S.A. Women's Hockey Gold Medal Game - while Canada as expected manhandled Finland by a 6-0 count, Sweden had other ideas as they beat the Americans 3-2 - in a shootout.  Perhaps there's a silver lining in all of this - or at the very least a silver medal for the Swedish squad.  With all the talk this week about how Women's hockey is a Canada-U.S.A. free-for-all, with the rest of the world fighting for Bronze, perhaps this is just what the doctor ordered.  Now what will really get the world talking is if the Americans don't even Medal - we'll find out Monday afternoon!!!

So Dominik Hasek is coming back to Ottawa to be re-evaluated by Senators' team doctors - apparently he won't miss any time, but even if he does, the Sens have a fairly light schedule on the rebound - light as in the competition - Pittsburgh and Washington back to back - and Toronto on the weekend.  I figure even if they play Emery against Crosby and Ovechkin, the worst that can happen is they get Hasek back for the Leafs.

While Ottawa is holding their collective breath - so too is New Jersey - Patrick Elias also had to drop out of the Olympics with an injury.  Yet, Peter Forsberg apparently is going to play.  I'll believe it when I see it.  Personally, I wish Chris Pronger would stop playing on that broken foot.  Edmonton will need him if they make the playoffs.

In any event, Canada-Switzerland tomorrow morning - bring it on!!!  Also, there's no Olympic Break for Saturday Picks as uLAr and I rekindle our weekend rivalry - Olympic style.  Have a great weekend and keep checking back for more!

 

Thursday, February 16, 2006  

11:37 PM - Well the wireless network I set up yesterday allows me to update the website as I watch most of the games without having to run up two flights of stairs to my main computer.  This will allow more frequent updates of the scores, almost real time (not to mention more frequent Blog updates!).  You'll be able to see the difference on Feb 28 when the NHL resumes.  I'm still working out a little file sharing glitch that I can't seem to get past, but it's nothing I can't handle.

In any event - the past couple of days have been very eventful.  I touched on Dominik Hasek's injury yesterday, which the media was first reporting as a groin, then a hamstring, then an upper-front leg injury - now - get this - it's being described as a "tense muscle".  So far all anybody seems to know is that it's his left leg that's affected!  Next thing you know it will be downgraded to a Charlie Horse.  They may as well just stick with the NHL mysterious "lower body injury" description for now.  I don't know if Hasek's absence was a factor, but the Czech Republic lost today to the Swiss by a score of 3-2.  I'm thinking Switzerland could make some noise in this tournament.  Canada better be ready on Saturday.

Speaking of Canada - they won again today - 5-1 versus the Germans.  No Olaf Kolzig for Germany, Thomas Greiss was between the pipes.  Kolzig apparently will play later on in the tournament - not a bad move if you ask me.  San Jose Sharks' defenseman Christian Ehrhoff had the lone goal for Germany, while Dany Heatley, Joe Sakic, Wade Redden, Shane Doan and Simon Gagne scored for Canada.  Shots were 40-12 in favor of guess who...

I didn't know this until Harry Neale mentioned it, but Germany won Hockey Bronze in 1976 - probably one more medal than anybody who follows hockey knows, or cares.

On an unrelated note - I saw Patrick Roy yesterday giving a huge vote of confidence for Habs' goalie Jose Theodore - if that doesn't help him pick up his game when the NHL resumes, nothing will!!

Also checking a few AHL scores from yesterday, Jean-Francois Jacques scored a hat trick for the Hamilton Bulldogs vs the Toronto Marlies - where was that offense during his call-up with the Edmonton Oilers last week?!?

Tomorrow is an off day for the Men's tournament, but there is lots of hockey to play as the Women's tournament will heat up with the Placement Rounds and two playoff games - U.S.A. vs Sweden and Canada vs Finland.  The winners will get the weekend off before they play for the Gold Medal on Monday.  We may as well just pencil in Canada vs U.S.A. now and get it over with. 

I'll be checking in more often this weekend during the Canada-Switzerland game.  Ciao for now.

 

Wednesday, February 15, 2006  

1:18 AM Ė The Olympic Menís Ice Hockey tournament faces off in exactly five hours and 42 minutes.  Canada will play Italy.  Why in God's name is the game on so Early?  I know Italy is a six hour difference from Ottawa, but then again, I don't have to work until 12:30, so maybe it's just as well.  I really feel for the west coasters, who will have to be up at 4:00 AM!!!  They may as well stay up all night for crying out loud.  The Gold Medal Game is an 8:00 AM start on February 26th, 5:00 AM Pacific Time.  No sleeping in that day I guess! 

When Canada and Italy's womenís teams faced off, Canada had three goals on the board before the game was even five minutes old, two of them scored in the first minute and a half!  Final score was 16-0.  While Italyís menís team will be looking not to get blown out so bad, I donít think this one will be even close.  By the way, I really pity Finland's women's team, they get Canada next.  I'm guessing with the Canadians outscoring their opposition 33-1, it's BUH-BYE Finns!  Going to bed now, will talk to yíall in a few hours.

7:41 AM - Canada 1  Italy 0 - 1st Intermission - Not the best start Canada could have hoped for, but they'll take it - so will Italy.  The Italians have been very aggressive on the fore check and are using the International ice to their advantage.  The difference in the game so far is Jarome Iginla's power play goal.  For all the nay sayers, Todd Bertuzzi got an assist on the first goal as he set up the goal perfectly from his office along the corner boards.  Canada has 1:36 of an Italian power play to kill off in the 2nd period.  Dany Heatley elbowed Jason Muzzatti to the ice - goaltender interference - you think?  In the only other game going on right now, Sweden has a handy 7-1 lead over Kazakhstan going into the 3rd.  Later on today, Switzerland plays Finland, Germany has the Czech Republic, Russia takes on Slovakia, and Latvia gets the U.S.A.

7:57 AM - Italy made good on their power play 43 seconds into the 2nd period, but Dany Heatley redeemed himself at the 2 minute mark.  Canada 2 Italy 1.

8:07 AM - Canada 4  Italy 1 - Canada seems to have shaken off the jet lag as Shane Doan has scored and Iginla has another power play goal.  Kazakhstan scored their second goal against Sweden in the third, but it was all for naught - Sweden 7  Kazakhstan 2 - that's now a final.

8:22 AM - Canada 6  Italy 1 - Tampa Bay team mates Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis have blown this game wide open with less than 5 minutes to go in the 2nd.

8:32 AM - Canada 6  Italy 2 - 2nd Intermission - Canada found their legs in the second period, but Italy made it interesting on the power play.  I pity any team who gets into penalty trouble against them going forward.  They keep things simple and should be a handful for any team that isn't ready for them.  Will update you all on the final score later, but for now going back to bed until 11:00.  Luckily I don't work until 12:30!  Go Canada Go!

11:26 AM - Final Score - Canada 7  Italy 2 - The Media are calling it "a lacklustre effort".  In my opinion they're just not giving the Italians enough credit.  For 21 minutes, Italy was by far the better team, they played hard, completed their checks, and had an aggressive fore check and put the power back into power play.  Canada took a period to get their legs, but after that they showed why they're the defending Gold Medal and World Cup champions.  If this was a lacklustre effort, I'd hate to see what happens if Canada actually Loses a game.  Finland has a 5-0 lead over Switzerland in the 3rd period in other hockey action.

11:58 PM - Wow, what a day!  Upon returning home from Work I've been busy setting up another computer on a wireless network, so I'll be back later to chime in on the day's action.  But, I must say, Oh Dominik!!  Please be O.K., not just for your country but for your second home - Ottawa!!

 

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