Tuesday, February 16, 2010

USA, Canada Off To Good Starts In Olympics

The Olympics have arrived, and more importantly Men's hockey started their tournament with Team USA, Canada and Russia dropping the puck. Since you haven't come here for the results here are a few thoughts on the nights action of the games I saw.

USA 3, Swiss 1
  • Ryan Miller looked good in net, but not great. Could be just some first game jitters. But he made the saves he needed to, even if he only saw 15 shots. The only goal he let in was of his own doing. He stuck his stick to stop a cross ice pass, but the puck jumped over his pads and in the net behind him.
  • Chris Drury played well for being one of the senior members of this USA team filled with youngsters. He also did well on the PK, and seemed to have a scoring chance every time he hit the ice.
  • Bobby Ryan scored the first goal of the tournament as USA's forecheck broke the Swiss down in their zone. He beat his Anaheim Duck teammate Jonas Hiller top side.
  • All the goals USA scored came from players 6'2" and taller. The big guys Brian Burke chose paid off early for the Americans.
  • Some one should keep an eye on Roman Wick, the Swiss player with their only goal. This kid is fast and talented. He didn't directly score the goal, but he did give the Swiss an offensive threat. He was deserving of a one of the game's 3 stars, if they only did that for international play.
  • Good start for Team USA. We can only hope they can build off that win as they face some of the tougher teams in their group (yes, we are talking about Canada).
Canada 8, Norway 0
  • Canada looked pretty shaky in the first period going 0-2 on the power play and blanking in the first frame. That would change in the second period with a power play goal by Jarome Iginla. The flood gates would open with 3 goals in the second and 5 more in the third.
  • Norway's goaltender Paal Grotnes played very well. He was square to the shots and his team played pretty good team defense around him. He was calm and collected even after the goals that may have made it easier for the Norway players. He was pulled after letting in four goals.
  • Roberto Luongo played okay, considering he spent more time watching than actually doing. He wasn't controlling his rebounds as well as he should have. That could be a bigger problem against a better team.
  • 17 different players made it to the score sheet for Canada with at least a point. 4 of those players had 2 points and Sidney Crosby had three assists.
  • Unlike the USA/Swiss game, this one had commercial breaks between whistles. It often came back with play already in process. CNBC also game in late in the first period with just a couple of minutes left in the first frame. Not great coverage, but better than nothing.
  • Mike Richards had a good game with a goal and did a good job both ways.
  • It is hard to really judge this team considering this is just Norway. Not one of the power houses going for gold. They will not play USA in their group until Feb. 21st.
  • Crosby led all Canadians with three assists and three points. He also took a strange penalty at the start of the third period as he took out Norway's smallest player 5'7" Mats Zuccarello Aasen. It was a two minute roughing minor.
Russia 8, Latvia 2
  • Alex Ovechkin had a strong game netting two goals. He was paired up with Washington teammate Alex Semin and Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk. I am not going to lie, he would have had the hat trick if Nick Backstrom was on his line.
  • While Ovi tops the list of players from the NHL, it was the KHL players that seemed to get Russia off to a good start. Former Cap Sergei Fedorov had a pair of assists and his countryman, Danis Zaripov, had a couple of goals as well.
  • Russia looked good, probably the best start of the tournament so far as the Russians came out to a early 3-0 lead in the first. The game fell into a lull in the second period but when Latvia scored early in the third, the Russians answered back (following Ovechkin's lead) with three goals. In fact in a span of 2 minutes and 2 seconds 5 goals were scored, two for Latvia, 3 for Russia. 5 goals on 5 shots straight.
  • Latvia showed signs of some pretty good pressure, but they were just outmatched by Russia's talent.
  • Evgeni Nabokov played well through out. But he did let in a couple of softies. Again, it is hard to gauge how good or how bad these teams are against foes that are not at the same talent level.

No comments: