Thoughts on the Winter Olympics

We’ve experienced all the Winter Olympics had to offer. Well, at least I did, with 14 hours of curling and hockey each day. If all you saw was the USA-Canada Men’s Gold Medal Game, let me get you caught up with what happened elsewhere.

Women’s Hockey: Meghan Agosta dominated, and I’m not saying that just because I’m a homer. She was named tournament MVP and made every goalie that came near her cry. Team Canada scored more goals in two weeks than most NHL teams score in a season, and only the gold medal game between the U.S. and Canada was remotely exciting. Canada prevailed, taking the contest 2-0 on a solid effort by goaltender Shannon Szabados.

Men’s Hockey: Preliminary round games to mention

USA vs. Switzerland: The U.S. won 3-1, with Bobby Ryan scoring the first goal of the Olympics for the US. The Swiss team played well, a harbinger of scares they would put in teams, including the U.S., later in the tournament.

Slovakia vs. Czech Republic: This game wasn’t as good as I thought it would be, though 2010 Jaromir Jagr took over at the end of the second period. Double J got a semi-breakaway and buried it against Jaroslav Halak. He added a great assist to Thomas Plekanec with two seconds left in the second period.

Switzerland vs. Canada: The aforementioned scare I talked about? That was this game. The Swiss took the Canadians to a shootout, where the Canadians’ individual talent immensely outweighed the Swiss’ inability to do anything against Martin Brodeur. Sidney Crosby wins the game with one shot, granted it took him two attempts. More to come on that.

Slovakia vs. Russia: It was a 2-1 shootout win, but this game was a lot more exciting than it looked. Pavol Demitra scores an unbelievable goal and has a fantastic celebration to match. I could watch that replay all day.

Switzerland vs. Norway: Some people will tell you this game was awesome and featured a hat trick by Tore Vikingstad (who they will also tell you has, like, the best name, like, ever), but I can’t say a game by these teams ranks even close to those played by the teams that actually had a chance at a medal.

Czech Republic vs. Russia: The start of the last and best day of the qualifiers, the Russians showed they did belong in the tournament after the tough Slovakia loss. Evgeni Malkin decided to impose his will with two goals, and the Czechs made it close but couldn’t match the Russians this game.

USA vs. Canada: The best game of the tournament in my opinion. For those of you that liked the gold medal game, you missed out badly if you didn’t get to watch this one. The gold medal game had the tying goal late in regulation and the overtime winner, and, as a whole, was better based on significance. However, as pure hockey, the first period of this preliminary game was the best hockey I have ever witnessed. A statement by the USA that they came to play.

Sweden vs. Finland: In the last game of the preliminary round, Sweden had Finland’s number the whole way and Henrik Lundqvist played as well as he always does. On to the elimination round.

Switzerland vs. Belarus: Again, two teams that didn’t matter that much, but this elimination shootout win was an interesting game. This game set up the Swiss-USA quarterfinal.

Slovakia vs. Norway: Ole Kristian Tollefsen eliminated Lubos Bartecko with a dangerous hit to the head that left Bartecko bloodied. Tollefsen got tossed and Slovakia scored twice on the ensuing 5-minute power play. Norway stayed in it pretty well even though they had no shot to win.

USA vs. Switzerland: This game was terrifying for about 59 minutes of it. The Swiss had maybe three seconds of possession in the American’s zone, but you just felt an upset the whole time until Zach Parise put 50 states on his back and clinched the victory with a pair of goals in the third.

Canada vs. Russia: What was supposed to be the gold medal game turned into a laugher. The Russians forgot to show up for the game, and the Canadians steamrolled them the entire time. Evgeni Nabokov collapsed in net, and the Russian forwards couldn’t get a sniff of offense for nearly the entire game.

Finland vs. Czech Republic: The Czechs’ age showed in this one, and they couldn’t keep up with a talented Finnish squad as Miikka Kiprusoff earned the shut out.

Slovakia vs. Sweden: Unbelievable game, maybe the best of the quarterfinals. Slovakia scored two goals in quick succession, only to have that matched by the Swedes’ two quick ones. The go-ahead marker came from Pavol Demitra (who should have been named the tournament’s best forward over John Toews), and Thomas Kopecky made it stick with Slovakia’s fourth goal, eliminating the defending gold medalists without a medal.

USA vs. Finland: This semifinal was awesome if you’re American. Ryan Malone started the rout by capitalizing on Kiprusoff’s mistake, and the USA dominated from start to finish, turning our eyes to the gold medal game in a hurry. The Americans overachieved in the Olympics two games before this, but this win really made me believe they could win it all.

Canada vs. Slovakia: Canada went up 3-0, but Slovakia started a furious comeback in the last half of the third period. The game was 3-2 going into the final minute, and Slovakia dang near tied it multiple times, but Roberto Luongo had the answer.

Bronze Medal Game: Finland vs. Slovakia. The “going away tour” for Slovakia (how many times did you hear Kenny Alberts say that?) unfortunately could not end right for the Slovaks. Demitra (best forward, remember?) put Slovakia up 3-1 in the second on a shorthander, but Finland decided to bring it in the third and scored four unanswered goals to win the bronze.

Gold Medal Game: USA vs. Canada. You probably watched it, and if you didn’t, I have nothing to say.

The 2010 Winter Olympics were everything I could ask for and more as far as hockey was concerned. Now curling, on the other hand…