The US now has 2 wins in the Olympic tournament after taking a bat to Slovakia and barely escaping the evil Russians. I gotta talk about the Russian game first, which is fresh in my mind.
Holy shit that game was amazing! The US played their ass off but actually looked like the team some expected at the start of the tournament — one that might not be able to score. There weren’t that many scoring chances during 5on5. Both goals were scored on the power play, and even Kaner’s breakaway in OT was 4on4. There were opportunities to score, but not enough, and it made the Americans rely on their power play
…which delivered and then some. After Datsyuk scored on a Datstukian shot on a break, JVR and Kessel played beautifully on the PP together, and JVR said during the intermission (in a shockingly somewhat interesting comment during an intermission interview in any sport) that it mainly happened because of the chemistry. I guess that’s the last good thing that Randy Carlyle has made happen. Cam Fowler was the beneficiary of JVR and Kessel’s assists.
In the 3rd, Patrick Kane made up for what was otherwise a mediocre day for him by making on orgasmic-to-watch saucer pass. Pavelski buried it, and it had looked like the US was pulling away from Russia in the previous few minutes, so we were feeling good. Alexander Radulov had taken both penalties, causing a Twitter frenzy. You know how it’s almost always annoying when everyone on Twitter makes the same joke? Yeah, this time the joke about how “Putin is gonna kill this guy!” was actually still funny, and it was a precursor to a whole other set of jokes that you’ll see in two paragraphs.
But it’s true, Putin is sending him to Siberia as we speak.
Annnnd then Dustin Brown had to one up him. Took an incredibly stupid penalty, his second of the day, for no fucking reason. Knee on knee hit to Slava Voynov, giving the Russians a power play. Datsyuk capitalized again. Things looked real bad when Fedor Tyutin had apparently scored, and, although it’s incredibly overrated, the Russians seemed to have all the momentum. But it turned out that Radulov might have deflected the puck with a high stick, so the refs had to take a look. McQuire and Olcyzk correctly noticed that the puck hadn’t hit his stick, which would have been so funny because Putin actually would have strangled him on the ice. The broadcasting duo was then shocked when the ref waved it off, because they hadn’t realized that Jonathan Quick had accidentally knocked off the net, which warrants a whistle in international hockey. Twitter then unleashed the “Putin is gonna kill these refs!” joke that, again, was somehow funny. My favorite was this:
The refs had made the right call though, and the game rolled on. The last five minutes was tense but didn’t have any serious scoring chances, and we were on to overtime. Two minutes in, Patrick Kane had a breakaway that Bobrovsky read from the start. Kane went five hole, and it was closed when the puck was less than halfway from Kane to Bobrovsky. We head to a shootout, where Kane doesn’t get a turn to shoot. Some may think that it had to do with his miss on the breakaway, but, by percentages, it was actually a good move not to use him. He’s only 39%, but who’s a little higher is Zach Parise, who also didn’t get to shoot. Parise is over 45%,, so it surprised many, myself included, that Joe Pavelski was picked over him. TJ Oshie, who is second-best all time in shootouts among anyone with 20 attempts or more, was an easy choice. James van Riemsdyk was a defensible one, but he’s only had 7 goals on 14 attempts. I’d have rather taken Parise and Kane, but I would understand JVR and Parise. The Pavelski pick was dumb, though.
The Russians went with Malkin, Datsyuk, and Kovalchuk. Datsyuk is the easiest choice ever, and Kovalchuk and Malkin are smart choices. Semin and Ovechkin were in play, but when you actually check the stats, their percentages are lower than you think.
Oshie started off… you know what, you just gotta watch. I can’t describe this shootout:
So how many T.J. Oshie jerseys are gonna be bought in the next 24 hours?
The Americans beat the Russians on their home turf with Vladamir Putin eagerly watching in the crowd. That feels pretty good.
Now, because I just spent over 800 words on the Russia game, I can’t describe the Slovakia game too much. Let’s just say that the US seemed to answer questions about their inability to score. All the offensive firepower showed up, with big games from Kane, Kesler, Pavelski, van Riemsdyk, Kessel, and the fourth line. As well. Brown also netted a goal while being the kind of edgy-in-a-bad way guy that annoyed Americans. (Foreshadowing.) The third line didn’t play that well, and Zach Parise hasn’t looked like the supposed best forward on the team. Backes played better today though, as well as Callahan. Parise just hasn’t looked like 2010.
So, going forward, it looks like the Power Play will be huge for the US. They didn’t score two days ago, but only had two chances, and it still looked good. Today, it was their savior. Well, that and TJ Oshie. Suter played almost a half hour, and McDonagh played almost 24. I can dig that, but the fact that Brooks Orpik played about a minute more than Paul Martin is downright insane. John Carlson barely played, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see Faulk play over him next game, considering his mistake gave Datsyuk the break on the first goal.
Also, Derek Stepan needs to play over Wheeler from here on in. Wheeler took a terrible penalty and played a total of 38 seconds. The US will need Stepan especially because Kesler is now playing with 1.5 hands. What a block of a shot there. He’s the one Canuck that doesn’t deserve to get called a pussy.
Tomorrow, it’s on to thrashing Slovenia, and then the US should have a bye through the qualifyer round. Go USA.