Punched In The Gut

I was talking with a good friend before yesterdays goal medal tilt with the Canadiens, trying to summarize my level of excitement for the game.  My friend, said he hadn’t been this excited for a hockey game since the Bolts were in the Stanley Cup Finals.  I personally felt that even then, I didn’t have as much anxiety, and giddiness leading up to the game.  I can only remember one time in my life having a real nervous stomach before a sporting event that I didn’t personally play in, and that was the Bucs Super Bowl vs the Raiders.  I had that feeling yesterday.  I was stoked, scared, happy, worried all simultaneously, and this was before the game had even started.  The only other time in my life I felt like that was my wedding day.

The game itself, if you didn’t care who won, couldn’t have been any more exhilarating.  The game seemed evenly matched from the start, something that was even different than the first time we played Canada.  The first time, they outshot almost 2 to 1 the entire game.  We won because Ryan Miller stood on his head in an all time great International individual performance.  This game was balanced the entire way.  Canada won the shot total 39 to 36, but that is a negligible difference when you think about it.

The first period turnover by Brian Rafalski that led to a laser wrist shot by Mike Richards and then a great savvy follow up by young Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was just awful in every sense of the word.  Richards cleanly just jacked Rafalski of the puck, and if you let good players shoot bullets from that close, its hard to expect Ryan Miller to secure that puck enough so there wouldn’t be a rebound.  The shots at the end of the first were 10 to 8 in favor of the bad guys, but I would say the game was very evenly matched.  I would have given us a first period rating of about a 7.5, and the Canadians an 8.

We started off the 2nd period looking awful, which we have basically done all tournament long and in this case, another bad turnover and some poor defense led to the Canadians 2nd goal.  Ryan Kesler just dumped the puck right in front of Ryan Miller on a defensive transition, and Corey Perry blasted it home. Kesler had a bevy of options including taking an icing and shooting it down the ice, sending it against the boards, popping it out to Ryan Malone (who was equally at fault for D’ing up in the middle of no man’s land, and not putting a body on anyone whatsoever).  Kesler made up for it a few minutes later though with a goal off a shot from Patrick Kane that he redirected. Once again, It still felt like the game was even.  If you took away the only two really heinous mistakes we made through the first two periods, it was 1 to 0 in our favor.  We really started to make Roberto Luongo work and make some fantastic saves after Kesler’s goal.  I believed that was key going into the third period.  After 2 periods, shots 25 to 23 in favor of the bad guys.

Period 3 seemed to go by at double time pace.  We couldn’t get anything by Luongo.  We had some decent looks at the net, but nothing that I felt was going to change what felt like inevitability at this point.  It was made even worse by an incredible pass up the ice from Dan Boyle to Sidney Crosby who would have scored an easy goal for him had Patrick Kane not worked his ass off to catch up to The Kid.  The US pulled Miller with about 1.5 minutes left in the game, and then proceeded to do a nice job of keeping it in the Canadians end of the ice.  It paid off with a put back goal by Zach Parise with 25 seconds left in the game.  The people I was watching the game with (we had moved seats in my living room after Period 1 to replicate our seating arrangements from the first Canadian-US game) went absolutely bonkers.  Not only were we not out of the game, we now had the momentum, or so it seemed.

7:40 into OT, Sidney Crosby (almost fittingly, I HATE YOU) scored a goal off a great pass by Jarome Iginla.  Crosby shot it so fast, that Miller had little time to react.  He almost got his pads down in time to stop the puck, but was just a split second behind.  My living room fell to silence.  I felt like I had been punched.  It was awful.  The only thing that I could equate to it, was, well,  nothing.  I have never truly felt that feeling in sports, at least to the degree that I felt it yesterday.  I couldn’t sleep last night.

****

  • Ryan Getzlaf is my most hated player in the league after this tournament.  He’s soft, but pretends like he’s a badass.  I hope he gets his ass whooped sometime soon once the NHL commences.
  • I said it before last game, Erik Johnson and Duncan Keith are the best young dmen in the league.  Johnson was impressive all game.  He can be an offensive dman, a defensive dman, a physical grinder on the boards, and he has a laser.  Great player.   Keith finished the game with a +2 and 2 shots.
  • Tim Gleason was awful.  Apparently he doesn’t know how to skate very well, and fell all game long, the 2nd game in a row he’s done that.
  • When Patrick Kane wants to be great, he has the ability.  Seems to turn it on and off every once in awhile, but when he turns it on, it’s fun to watch.
  • Ryan Miller being named the Tourney MVP was fitting.  He was stellar.

I will remember this tournament for the rest of my life.  I had a long conversation with another friend about how these players, even though they are going back to the NHL to play for plenty of our rivals, will all hold a place in my personal sports memory.  I will always be fans of the players on this team.  We showed the rest of the world, that Canada doesn’t own hockey, the United States at least have a stake.

Topics: 2010 Olympic Gold Medal Game, 2010 Winter Olympics, Brian Rafalski, Canada Vs USA, Corey Perry, Dan Boyle, Duncan Keith, Erik Johnson, Jarome Iginla, Jonathan Toews, Mike Richards, Patrick Kane, Roberto Luongo, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Malone, Ryan Miller, Ryan Ryan Kesler, Sidney Crosby, Tim Gleason, Zach Parise

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