NHL

USA Over Canada; 1980 All Over Again?

USA Hockey TeamMark this date in your calendars, because on February 21, 2010 USA Men’s Olympic Hockey made history one more time. Leading up to a game that was marked as one of the biggest hockey games since the 80’s, and not knowing what is the future of the Men’s Olympic Hockey because of the unknown if NHL will allow their players join the games in 2014. The players knew how big the game could, and would be deep down. Some tried to keep calm, but you could see early in the game that even some of the biggest stars in the NHL were rattled. In newspapers the day prior, stars were speaking on such. “We hate to lose to anybody but especially against the Americans,” said Canadian forward Jonathan Toews who plays on the Chicago Blackhawks alongside American forward Patrick Kane.

“It is a rivalry for a reason.””Canada and Russia will always have a rivalry in men’s hockey,” Toews said. “US and Canada is one that has grown. But they are both different. The one with Russia dates back a long time. I have grown up with the American one being bigger and at the forefront.”“I hate ’em,” American winger Ryan Kesler says of the Canadian team, before backing off a bit. “It’s a big rivalry . . . well, I don’t really hate them.”“Every TV set in Canada is going to be tuned in to this game,” U.S. coach Ron Wilson said. “This should be Hockey Day in Canada.”

Wearing their Retro 1960 Era Jerseys, Team USA took the ice against Team Canada. Team Canada was marked as the team to beat, and USA an underdog for this game. Team Canada had all the pressure to deliver performing in front of the home crowd tonight. Mike Richards was moved up to play with Sidney Crosby, which I thought was a great move. That was not the case. Richards had very little impact during the game. I would even venture to say he will be dropped back down to the 3rd line center. There was a lot of doubt weither or not USA could match the fire power of Canada, let alone Canada being filled with Veterans compared to USA’s very young team. USA also obtained a reputation during the Olympics so far as being a very physical team.

USA came out with a huge amount of energy. Canada brought the hitting game early. Only 41 seconds into the game, Brian Rafalski scored the first goal of the game to quiet down the crowd quickly. 8 minutes later Eric Staal scored a goal to tie the game, and in doing so got the crowd back into the game. Moments later, Rafalski would strike again and take team USA up 2-1 over Canada. This took the wind out of the hot Canadian crowd. Canada kept the pressure on, including the hitting game. USA also began their hitting game, in what would be one of the greatest games we have seen in 20 plus years.

Coming out the gate Danny Heatley scored 3:32 in the 2nd. The 2nd period saw a large amount of end to end action. USA goal tender Ryan Miller made some of the most amazing saves of the Olympics easily. He was unstoppable and never broke stride. Chris Drury would score a goal 16:46 into the 2nd period. The amount of energy shown by both teams throughout both periods is something the sport of hockey needed as a whole. Going into the 3rd, Team Canada knew it had to count on its top lines to begin to create opportunities. Jamie Langenbrunner deflected a shot from Rafalski, which many thought was the hat trick. They would later show reviews showing the deflection off the skate. Sidney Crosby did answer the challenge, being on the top line scoring a power play goal at the 16:51 mark to bring the game within one.

Martin Brodeur was pulled in the 3rd period with around 1 minute left. Ryan Kesler was making a break for the puck that was going back into the Canadian zone. He made one heck of an effort while making a desperation move through 2 defensemen to shoot the puck into the open net and put the game way with mere seconds left. The celebration began like they won the gold. Rightfully so with no one thinking they could win the game. After the game, Miller talked about being with a young team, and not getting ahead of themselves. Key players for Canada such as Chris Pronger didn’t show up to play. He knocked a USA player at one point into Brodeur, causing him to fall down and open the net up for a goal. Crosby was strong as usual, and Nash was hitting everything that moved. What if he played like that every night? I’ve never seen him hit so much in one game. People are already talking about the Gold winning team for USA of 1980. I think that is premature at this point. Teams like Russia, Sweden, Finland, and even Canada are extremely strong. Any of these teams can steal the show, and make a run for the gold. Tonight proved that. Some can blame the sloppy play of Brodeur, but his defense wasn’t stellar by any means. The stand out man to me was defenseman Drew Doughty. He made some great moves trying to make plays. I believe we will see Roberto Luongo get the next start for Canada. If USA can keep from making sloppy plays like in the beginning games of the tournament, and power house teams like Canada give up opportunities as they did tonight who says USA can’t relive 1980?

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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