Sunday, February 28, 2010

Canada Wins Hockey Gold - And It's Easy To See Why

This is what I get for being a "sports pessimist."

Below is post that I wrote just as the third period of the gold medal men's hockey game started. So convinced was I that Canada would win, that I got a jump start on re-capping the game from my own little non-hockey watching perspective.

I know Canada still went on to win anyway, but none the less...for all my observations on why Team USA had lost - or was going to lose...they managed to pull out a goal with only a few seconds left in regulation to move the game in to overtime. Unexpected to say the least and a great way to finish up the game.

Despite the unanticipated excitement at the end of the game, I think most of my observations are still valid - it's just that Team USA made it much, much more interesting...

Congratulations to Team Canada for a well deserved and nicely won gold medal in the Olympics hockey competition.

I watched the game today hoping for a USA victory, but in all honesty knowing that it would be extremely difficult to do vs. a very, very good Canadian team in the tournament final. Sure, USA beat them early on, but that's not the same as the gold medal game.

As I've mentioned before, I'm not a normal hockey watcher, so I don't know enough to say what it was that either team did well or poorly all game long that resulted in the final score. But, I do know a couple things that were clear as day to me in watching the action - things that led directly to the outcome:
  • Turnovers in front of the goal killed Team USA. They turned the puck over many times directly in front of their own goal. This resulted in scores for Canada. For you football fans, this would be like your offense fumbling the ball away to the opponent right down there on your own goal line. It was pretty simple to see that USA did this all too often, and not at all surprising that a team with as many good players as Canada would capitalize with goals. (POST-GAME NOTE: This is how Canada also scored their final and winning goal in OT.)
  • An inability for Team USA to control the puck in their offensive end. Just a lot of missed passes, flubbed shots and inability to really control the puck. You'd like to say that Canada's defense was just so good that it forced this, but I have to say it just looked like poor play from the USA.
  • Extremely poor power play from the USA. When you have a man advantage, you have a great chance to score. Team USA couldn't even keep it in the offensive zone during their power plays, so they naturally did not score any power play goals. Too bad because they had their chances.
  • Finally, I would say that Team Canada just played an overall better game. They were just a little more on the money with their passes, defense and penalty killing. And that's what it's easy to say..."congratulations Canada, you deserve the gold. Well done!"
Team USA wins the silver, only the fourth medal it's ever won in men's Winter Olympics ice hockey and that ain't bad.

With the Olympics over, I'm now looking forward to the start of the Seattle Sounders soccer season in March and the World Cup in June.

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