So much for bottling that anger and frustration from the Canada game and pouring it out on Slovakia; more like the US dribbled it down their legs.
I don't want to be too hard on these kids - it's not like they weren't trying. The effort was certainly there. It was just one of those classic upset games. Like the cliched slow motion car crash - you could see it happening but nobody could seemingly do anything about it. Obviously the goaltending was the difference. While I am frustrated with McCollum, it is outwieghed by pity. It can't be much fun to be in his shoes right now. I am more angry at the architects of this team. They couldn't find a better goaltender? Really? And as much as I respect Rolston as a coach, I wonder if USA Hockey should go back to the model of grabbing a top NCAA coach away from his team for a couple weeks for this job. The US did not handle the adversity in the Slovakia game well at all - and that can be partailly blamed on coaching.
All in all, the outcome is extremely disappointing for USA Hockey and American hockey fans in general. I would be remiss if I did not give credit to Slovakia for playing an excellent game and to the Slovakian coach who had an outstanding game plan. With such a formidable goaltender, they drew in to the middle of the ice and filled the passing lanes. They knew the Americans would look to make the extra pass, especially once they felt it was necessary to beat Janus. The US took too long to adjust and begin getting shots on net from the outside and get traffic in front and dig for rebounds.
They have nothing to be embarrassed about though. As I type, Sweden has just scored to tie this semi-final game against the same Slovaks. This is a good Slovakian team. And now they just went up 2-1.
Looking forward to Russia/Canada tonight.
Meanwhile, the Avs laid a massive egg at home against Columbus last night. Getting smoked 6-1 at home against anyone is awful. Granato better be careful - this is the type of game that people watch and wonder how a group of highly paid professionals can be allowed to just mail it in. There is no polite way to say it. The Avs quit after they got down 3-1. The danger is that this is the type of loss that can stay with a team - especially one that is missing a couple of its best players. Is reality setting in now, or is this just an aberration? Tomorrow's game will go a long ways in finding out.
Many of the Avs early season problems reared their heads again. Sub-par goaltending, poor defensive play, and a lack of motivation in the offensive zone from the elite players all combined in this disaster. Hannan looked awful, Budaj looked lost after the first period, and Smyth, Hejduk, Svatos and Wolski were next to invisible.
This team can ill afford any lengthy losing streak. Tomorrow's home divisional matchup against the Wild becomes all the more important for that reason.