I'll be offering my period-by-period recap and thoughts as they happen today, as the road to the gold medal officially begins today, when Team USA takres of Team Switzerland in the men's quarterfinals.
To see my live in-game thoughts, go to http://twitter.com/Nick_Boston
Well, that's certaintly not how the USA drew it out...
The first five minutes of the period was all Switzerland. And it just so happened to be when all four of the Swiss' shots took place. Switzerland came out firing on all cylinders, even getting a power play in the process. But, a car is only as good as it's engine, and after that first five minutes, the Swiss broke down...except for it's main piece, goaltender Jonas Hiller. Hiller was peppered with shot after shot, and turned aside every one of them. Basically, Hiller stood on his head to keep the Swiss in it going into the second period. If not for him, Team USA would be up 3-0 right now. The saves that stood out for Hiller in that period was the blast from Dustin Brown, Patrick Kane's backhand attempt coming from behind the net, and the blocker save on Zach Parise on what should have been an open-net goal. Not to mention Hiller had help from the post on a wicked shot by Phil Kessel after pulling a dipsy-doo on a Swiss defenseman. USA has to not get discouraged by this, and keep putting shots on net. Hiller has looked amazing so far, but with the offensive firepower on Team USA, there's bound to be at least one or two goals to go in sooner or later.
Deja Vu to the first period for the U.S.. They continue to fire at will and Hiller continues to stop all shots. USA had three power plays in the period, but got nothing out of it, thanks to some great penalty killing by the Swiss. Speaking of the Swiss, they came out just like they did in the first period, and then proceeded to fall flat after the first few minutes. Their best scoring chance came from Julian Sprunger off of a nice move, but Miller stopped his attempt rather easily. Hiller made some huge stops in the second period, including ones off of Dustin Brown and Jamie Langenbrunner that could have easily went in. And, in a sheer display of luck, Ryan Kesler looked as if he had scored as time ran down to end the second period, but repays showed time had expired 0.1 second before the puck completely crossed the goal line. So, the score remains at 0-0. Someting's gotta give...
Despite the efforts by the Swiss, and Jonas Hiler playing aSuperman in net, Zach Parise was finally abe to get one by Hiller early in the third period on the power play. That, along with some great defensive play and the continued dominance of Ryan Miller in goal, led to a 2-0 victory over Switzerland. What a performance by both teams, but give credit where credit is due. That was a hell of an effort put together by the Swiss, and Jonas Hiller specifically. Although they came up short, the Swiss showed today they weren't to be taken lightly, and ended up bringing out the absolute best in Team USA, and themselves.
Everyone hear that?
That's every USA hockey fan letting out a collective "WHEW!!!"
What a gutsy, hard-fought game, but in the end the USA moves on to the semifinals, and the Swiss go home. But, the USA still has a lot to work on in their preparation to their next game against either Finland or the Czech Republic.