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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Olympics have their version of “Rivalry Weekend”, as the Favorites face must win games

To say that it doesn’t get any bigger, would do it justice enough if you’re Canadian as it’s already being called the biggest game in Canadian Hockey history. Obviously, that’s a bit of hyperbole as they’ve played for medals before but not against the US and not in their own backyard. A loss to the US on Canadian soil would be the biggest LOSS in history even though a win wouldn’t constitute the same. The Canadians may have been looking ahead as they got sleeping against the Swiss and needed a Sidney Crosby goal in overtime to escape with the deuce but still trail the US by a point as the US is 2-0 and sits atop the group with six points. Normally you wouldn’t sweat the Leafs going against the US in their national sport, but because of all the hype and added pressure if the US can survive the first period onslaught of emotion it will work their advantage because you gotta’ believe the noose will tighten as the game goes on. What the US has to do is defend the Canadians off the boards, and limit the mental mistakes they made against the Swiss. Even though they won, on several occasions they were bailed out by superb goalie play as they over committed on the offensive end left themselves vulnerable to the counter attack against the Canadians that will prove to be fatal. The bottom line is that this is about more than just redemption from the 06’ games, this is about national pride, and as much as I’d love to see a sequel to the “miracle on ice” I can’t see it happening tomorrow.

Also on tap tomorrow is Russia vs. the Czech Republic as amazingly it’s the Russians who are in a must win situation and face the humility of not making the medal round after a loss as shocking as you’ll ever see, 1-2 to Slovakia. A favorite to hang gold in every Olympiad the Russians also may have been caught looking ahead and now face an even worse scenario in the event of a loss than the host do. Both would be embarrassed in the eyes of the fellow countrymen but at least the host could redeem themselves by coming back to win the gold where the Russians would be sent home medaless, and then probably to Siberia. This game will be the opening act for a very exciting day on the ice but you get the feeling the big red machine will answer the call in this one, realize what a close call it was, then get it together and find themselves in the Gold Medal Game.

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