Consider this the open Olympic thread. Want to leave some thoughts on a non-hockey Olympic event? This is the place. My non-hockey moment of the day yesterday came when Anja Paerson returned from a horrendous fall in the downhill to tackle the same course yesterday in the combined event. She posted a pretty good time in the downhill portion and did even better in the slalom to earn herself a bronze medal; it was the sixth Olympic medal of her career which ties the record for female skiiers. On a day when at least one skier pulled out of the race because the course was too dangerous, that's an incredible demonstration of courage and the will to compete. Congratulations to Anja!
Now if only our Canadian hockey team demonstrated that same will and desire to win. Immediately after the 3-2 SO win over the Swiss I thought the Canadians had played an okay game and were stymied largely by a hot goaltender. They weren't overshooting or overpassing, just underlucking. And to a large degree, I still think that's true. But after watching the brilliant match between the Slovaks and Russians I did conclude that the Canadians will need to have a more physical and committed game. That doesn't mean going after the big hits a la JFJ. It means a strong physical forecheck that’s intent on pressuring the puck carrier and turning opposition possession into a puck battle every time and coming back hard on the backcheck at every opportunity. Like Marian Hossa.
After the Canadians "won" against the Swiss it seemed all was lost but Marian Hossa scored the tying goal against the Russians mid-way through the third period and the Slovaks won in overtime. It was a fantastic game. As an added bonus it gave the Canadians new hope for a finish of first or second overall if the Russians can beat the Czech Republic. After a wonderful first day both the Canadians and Russians had a real bad day three. The Americans, meanwhile, quietly held serve with a 6-1 drubbing of Norway. It had been 3-1 with six minutes left but the Americans popped three goals to close out the game and rack up the appropriate goal differential. And come to think of it, that makes five teams who played with at least as much physicality and commitment as the Canadians did last night.
Today the Swedes take on Belarus, trying to avenge their loss from 2002 better than the Canadians avenged their loss from 2006 to the Swiss. The Finns get the Germans, who looked very good in a losing effort to Sweden. With the Russians and Canadians both losing points yesterday the Finns and Swedes have an excellent opportunity to take first overall. The other game involves the Czechs and Latvians and should result in a sound thrashing by the Czechs but I'll be cheering hard for an upset.
Belarus v. Sweden 1:00 p.m. MST
Czech Republic v. Latvia 5:30 p.m. MST
Finland v. Germany 10:00 p.m. MST