I didn't think I was going to be able to write a blog about this game because I actually missed the first 2 period. I was helping out at the local AJHL play-off game here in Fort McMurray. But luckily I made it back in time to see the 3rd period. Since I didn't see the 1st 2 I can't comment on anything that happened. All I can say is from the score it seems as though it was all Canada going into the 3rd.
But in that 3rd period I almost had a heart attack. Canada was playing pretty well for a while and then a whole lot of everything started to go wrong. The 1st Slovak goal was a weak one by Luongo. He came off the post a little to early and left just enough room to have it bounced off his pad and in. Now credit is due on that goal because Visnovsky had such a tiny hole to put the puck into...and he did it. After that goal went in something either clicked in Slovakia, or broke in Canada.
Canada started to run around in their own zone way too much after Slovakia got the first goal. Everyone just wanted to hit someone. At one point both Doughty and Morrow went after the same guy leaving, I believe it was Handzus wide open. Nobody was able to clear the puck, and aside from Dan Boyle helping tick off precious seconds in the offensive zone, nobody did anything. The passes were poorly placed and executed and it looked like they weren't trying. The Slovaks however looked the way Canada did against Russia...unstoppable. If it wasn't for Luongo making a huge last minute sprawling glove save the game would have been tied with only seconds to spare. At first glance that shot looked to hit the crossbar, but I think Luongo actually got a glove on it to send it wide of the net.
Earlier in the tournament I said that the USA was a much better team than people gave them credit for. They beat team Canada and have since made it to the gold medal game. Yesterday I said that we can't take Slovakia lightly because they're much better than people gave them credit for. They knocked out the defending champion Swedes and gave Canada an incredible run for their money tonight. Hopefully Canada has learned from these 2 games (USA and Slovakia) and can correct the mistakes they made in them, because a re-match against the USA for gold is just as good, if not better, than a gold medal game against the Russians.
Thinking about Sunday already has flashbacks of 2002. Now I wasn't an avid hockey follower back then. Yes I was a big Maple Leafs fan but other than that, I didn't follow much. So unfortunately I don't remember exactly where I was when Canada beat the USA in Salt Lake City. I think I was at home in my basement, but I'm not 100% sure. I know I watched the game, I just don't remember where. I know it sounds very unCanadian and to everyone who's saying "how can you not remember" I apologize. And win or lose this Sunday, I will remember where I was.
Team Canada has the tools to beat the USA. We're bigger and have incredible puck moving ability. However we need to use ALL of it because they have many strengths as well. Team USA is very quick, have a lot of talent and work amazingly as a team. Not to mention they have Ryan Miller in net. In the game between these 2 teams earlier, Miller was the difference. He clearly won the goal-tending dual between himself and Martin Brodeur. Now it's Luongo's turn to take on Miller. In the 3rd period of the last Canada-USA game, the Canadians were playing physical and had the chance to get back in it. They need to play the full 60 minutes that way to win on Sunday. They showed it works against the Russians, here's hoping it works again.
Of course I think Canada will come out on top and bring home the gold, but it's not going to be a walk in the park. I know a lot of people, myself included, said the same thing about the Russians and we were wrong. But I will all but guarantee you, it WILL NOT be the same on Sunday. My prediction is Canada 4 USA 3
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