Unless you were under a rock yesterday you know that Team USA shocked Canada on the Olympic rink. Brian Rafalski opened the scoring 41 seconds in and finished with two goals. Chris”Captain America” Drury made it 3-2 with a Johnny on the spot, tap-in at the end of the 2nd period. In period 3 on the PP, Jamie Langenbrunner put the dagger in the red maple leaf to make it 4-2.
Interesting side note: Friends I watched with commented that the uniforms made it look like a NJ Devils vs NY Rangers game. And with players like Drury, Langenbrunner, Parise, Callahan, Rafalski, and Brodeur, those teams were well represented.
Ryan Miller was a star in net, making dozens of unbelievable saves. Momentum never fully swung to the Red team, and Miller was a huge part of that. He finished with a 40/43 save performance. An impressive feat when the other teams 4th line has Dany Heatley. Heatley & Crosby, as they have been known to do, each beat Miller for a goal. Eric Staal (who I think is actually a real Viking that was unfrozen after 800 years in an atlantic glacier), scored Canada’s other goal.
The upset doesn’t seem so huge considering Switzerland tied Canada 2-2, a mere 2 days earlier. However, it does raise the expectations for the US squad. Now that they’re the #1 seed, how far do the Yanks have to make it to avoid disappointment?
Team America has the #1 seed in the knockout stage. On Wednesday at 3pm the boys will play the winner of Belarus vs. Switzerland (Tues 3pm). Had the US lost to Canada & been a 5 or 6 seed, the expectations would be lower. But we live in the real world here; and at least for now, WE’RE #1! If the US & Ryan Miller lose to Belarus or The Swiss, it will be a HUGE disappointment.
Assuming they get past Belarus/Swiss, they’ll play Finland or the Czech Republic. Neither of those potential foes has shown offensive greatness. The US will be favored. But what if Brian Rafalski(a defenseman) stops scoring? The US team hasn’t seen its top forwards score too many goals. Kane, Langenbrunner, Parise, & Bobby Ryan, have a combined 2 goals. This may also be a good sign that team USA is winning with balanced scoring from each of its forward lines. If the US loses to Finland or the Czech Republic, it WILL be a disappointment.
A win puts them in the gold medal game, a loss, in the bronze game vs. Canada/Sweden/Russia. That bronze match would be a tough game for the US, as Canada will have revenge on their minds and also 3 more games to work on team chemistry. Sweden & Russia are just good to begin with. If they lose the bronze game it WILL NOT be a disappointment. If they win the 3rd place match (especially if they beat Canada a 2nd time) it will be an overachievement.
So let’s say the US gets past Finland and into the gold medal game. They’ll play Canada/Russia/Sweden; same as the bronze game possibilities. They will not be favored in the gold medal game. If they lose the gold medal game it WILL NOT be a disappointment. If they win the gold medal, it won’t be a miracle, but it WILL be a great source of American Pride.
Playoff Bracket : http://www.nhl.com/ice/page.htm?id=60884
Sabre Thoughts: Chris Drury: For aSabres fan to enjoy Chris Drury’s goal, you had to set aside the personal stuff. In my opinion if you still are thinking about Drury getting away, you need to get slapped in the face with a wet Tyler Myers jersey. Let’s remember that last night you were rooting for your country; not your hometown. It was nice to see #23 up to his old magic again. Seconds after the clock turned 0:00, he hugged Ryan Miller & I had a short, happy flashback to May ‘06. After all the negativity towards Dru, it’s nice to feel good about the old captain, if even for a moment.