Thursday, February 25, 2010

Capitals' Olympic Hopefuls All Heading Home

Olympic News - February 24, 2010

Photo courtesy of PicApp

Unfortunately last night saw hopes of earning an Olympic medal dashed for all five Washington Capitals players in Vancouver going for the gold. Nicklas Backstrom, Tomas Fleischmann, Alex Semin, Semyon Varlamov and Alex Ovechkin all suffered defeat at the hands of their opponents in last night's quarterfinals action. But of all the teams falling out of medal contention, the most stunning upset was that of the star-powered Russians who suffering a plain old-fashioned 7-3 "whupping" at the hands of the rival Canadians. Yes, we all knew that the Russian's defense was not their strong point and they've struggled with a dismal power play, but no one could have predicted the thrashing laid on them by the home team who already had a commanding lead of 4-1 at the end of the first period. The Russians looked like they were skating through quicksand for most of the first and second periods and the coaches' decision to pull Evgeni Nabokov from goal in the second period came too little, too late. And in a situation unfamiliar to us Capitals fans, Alex Ovechkin was pretty much a non-factor in this game given that Preds d-man Shea Weber was plastered all over AO like the fur on flamboyant skater Johnny Weir's costumes for most of the game. Another note of interest was that none of the Canadian tallies came from their country's much revered hockey verison of the Jonas Brothers, Sidney Crosby, but from Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Rick Nash, Dan Boyle, Shea Weber and grinder Brendan Morrow. The Russians could not match the Canadians physical play and things started getting pretty chippy as the goals for the guys in white sweaters kept piling up. With just minutes left in the final period, Alex Semin made a thundering hit on Canada's Dan Boyle. A steaming mad Boyle retaliated by completely laying out Semin with a nasty slewfoot. Both received penalties but it's not likely that Boyle will see any additional punishment barring him from action.

Of the loss, Alex Ovechkin said "I think we was not ready for first five minutes of game and when we wake up it was too late. It was 3-0 and it's pretty hard to come back, especially that game."  Hmmm, you think? Caps fans are certainly hoping that we don't see any more of that in the upcoming all important regular season games leading up to the playoffs. But Hockey Mom's personal theory is that last night's embarassing loss (especially if Canada goes on to win the Gold - pssh), will only serve to fuel Ovi's drive to win that coveted Stanley Cup this year. The only bright spot for me watching that game was seeing my cat Gabby (yes, named after the Cap's jovial coach) sitting at the end of the coach intently following the back and forth action. I think I even heard her express a few Russian expletives...

In the later game, Tomas Fleischmann's Czech Rebublic team fell to Finland in a 2-0 contest. Nick Hagman's goal was the unfortunate result of Czech player Pavel Kubina losing his helmet. In the NHL, Kubina would have just continued to play but Olympic rules require a player to replace the helmet immediately or get off the ice. Kubina's having to go retrieve his lid behind the net gave Hagman plenty of room to work to set up his goal and Detroit's Valtteri Filppula garnered an empty netter for the win.

In the final game of the night (or should I say the wee hours of the morning), the uber-talented and gold medal defending Swedes lost to Slovakia in a 4-3 game that most likely marked the last Olympic appearances for Nicklas Lidstrom, Peter Forsberg and coach and former Capital Bengt-Åke Gustafsson.

And of course a riveting night of hockey on NBC (Nothing But Curling) would not be complete without some buffoonery from head bozo and hockey commentator Mike Milbury. After the Russia/Canada game Milbury quipped about the Russians, "I was really disappointed to see them bring their Eurotrash game tonight." While I agree (mark this date on your calendar as HM rarely, if ever, agrees with anything Mad Mike says) with his assessment of the Russian's lack of heart, grit. etc. in this game, "Eurotrash" is such a globally offensive term it amazes me that they still give this guy an international stage. With those ridiculous comments, he should just be relegated to Hockey Night in Canada alongside his pal Sour Grapes!

On a much more positive note, Team USA squeaked out a 2-0 victory against Switzerland, despite an extraordinary performance from Swiss goaltender Jonas Hiller. Both tallies came from young Zach Parise and the win gives the Americans the number one seed. They will face Finland in a network (yes, hockey fans, I said "network" as in the "real peacock") showdown tomorrow at 3 p.m. I'll be cheering on the red, white and blue and to all of our Capitals returning from Vancouver, we are proud of you and welcome back!


evision said...
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evision said...
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