Monday, February 22, 2010

The Medalled Road

Well, we Olympic hockey fans were certainly paid yesterday, weren't we?

Three of the best hockey games probably of this generation, in one incredible day, in one city, all at the same arena. First, Ovie & Co. crushed Jagr (literally), Zid-LITS-ky & the Czech Legion 4-2, as a clean, open-ice hit turned the game in the Russians' favor. Russia awaits the winner of the play-in game, playing on Wednesday against either Belarus or Canada, who play on Tuesday...

...wait a minute! CANADA?!?!?!? What the hell happened to Canada??? Weren't they the team that was supposed to 'Own the Podium'?

Oh, yeah. They lost -- at home, nevertheless, (the last time I looked, British Columbia is still a part of the Dominion of Canada) -- to the USA, 5-3, as Brian Rafalski's two goals and Ryan Miller's 44 saves turned the 'Sea of Red' inside the arena nicknamed 'the Garage' into an angry, sober mob (as the City of Vancouver shut down the bars when the game ended, trying to avoid the riots which occurred after the Canucks choked away the Stanley Cup to the NY Rangers in 1994). The loss to the Americans means that the Canadians are seeded sixth in the Olympic medal round, and will play the eleventh-seed Germans on Tuesday, for the right to take on Ovie, Geno & Co., a.k.a. No. 3 Russia, in the quarterfinals on Wednesday; one of the three pre-Olympic top seeds will not even make it to the semis, should this become reality.

The USA goes into the medal round as the No. 1 seed, and they will play the winner of Tuesday's Switzerland-Belarus game on Wednesday afternoon, 2:00 PM Central Time. And, unlike last night's game, the second-highest rated US Olympic hockey game in history, (estimated 8.2 million viewers) was deliberately buried by NBC, the Olympics rights-holder in the USA, to the non-HD-equipped world of MSNBC, in favor of the 800-pound gorilla of Olympic competition, figure skating (specifically, the Ice Dancing original dance program). In another move which will throw further doubt as to whether or not the NHL will participate in the Sochi Games in 2014, Wednesday afternoon's quarterfinals game will be shown on the flagship NBC network...when most people who would want to see the game, are still at work.

In the nightcap, Sweden shut down -- and shutout -- Finland, 3-0, to take the No. 2 seed in the medal round. Finland, which had won everything else before then, takes the No. 4 seed, which means the USA will have to take on the Koivu Bros. & friends in the semis, should both teams get that far. The Swedes will get the Slovakia-Norway winner, while the Finns get the Czech Republic-Latvia winner in the quarters.

The semis will be on Friday; Saturday will be the bronze medal game, and the gold will be played for on Sunday (2:15 PM Central Time, the last event prior to the Closing Ceremonies). Where it will be on TV, does anybody really know?

Maybe on ShopNBC? Versus?


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