Middle-of-the-Night Olympic Hockey Following Overseas

Last night, I finished my three hour-long script writing class at 6 p.m. It took me 15 minutes to cycle through the soaking and traffic-packed streets of London to my cozy flat, where a night of sport was about to consume me. First thing’s first, though. Nap time.

When you’re trying to follow these Olympics, and European football, as I am, where I am, naps are key.

I woke up in time for some Champions League football, where Chelsea was taking on Internazionale in Milan. I’m a Chelsea boy so I had to put that on the big screen TV.  The Champions League started at 7:45 p.m. local time, and the USA Olympics quarterfinal started at 8:00 p.m. The latter was available on the internet, through the wonderful circuitry of BBC online entertainment, so I just watched that on the laptop. Both games were really enjoyable, but Chelsea lost their first leg match. However, they did score an all-important away goal in the 2-1 defeat. At half-time, I was done watching football. Because BBC is really smart and decides to put all Olympic programming on one channel with multiview, it took about 25 minutes to not get an error message. There was no way I was going through that again, so I just left it on hockey.

10:30 p.m. At the end of a completely ice-tilted match, the USA pulled out the 2-0 victory. The Swiss are proving they’re a club to be reckoned with in future tournaments. Anyway, hockey ends. I went to my room to do some homework. I had to perform a monologue from a play in the morning. Ricky Roma’s “All train compartments smell vaguely of . . . ” bit from Glengarry Glen Ross. I am thankful I got to see the US game in primetime here, but two hours later, it was twilight time and I was about to see what everyone was calling a game for the ages. It was of course anything but.

12:45 a.m. Canada already had a 3-0 lead at this point, and I felt that same queeziness in my stomach that I had last felt on May 14th. I just got over it fast because, after all, it’s only Russia,  and I’m American. It was still worth watching though, because Canada did put on a clinic.

3:00 a.m. Russia/Canada game ended. Finland and the Czech Republic, starting around 4:00 a.m. my time? Hey, I love hockey, but I’m still a student, and mom and dad expect some return on this overseas school investment. So I went to bed. But I didn’t sleep for the next 45 minutes. Class at 10:30 a. m. Alarm clock set for 9:30 a.m . Awesome!

I performed that monologue and was absolutely dreadful. Much practice is needed. The end of these Olympics should help.

Mike Green or no Mike Green, Canada is always the enemy if you are a Washington Capitals’ supporter. Unless you’re a Canadian Caps fan. I digress. While they may be the enemy, the guys from up north showed Russia how hockey is played last night in a 7-3 rout at Canada Hockey Place. Coming in to the tournament, Russia, the world’s top ranked team, were favorites for a gold medal matchup with the Crosby-led Canadians. But come to think of it, Russia really only had a top-six forward corps of elite caliber. Canada has 13 forwards capable of painting the Russian net black. But let’s face it — Russia’s roster is significantly weaker than the US team, at least in terms of depth.

Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov were roadkill in last night’s game, as were the rest of the KHL players, incapable of doing any sort of physical damage, nevermind getting anywhere near Canada’s net. Alexander Radulov was a lot better in the NHL than he displayed last night. I’d like to believe that on any other night, the Russians could have pushed this to overtime or even win handily, but that I think it being too optimistic. Alex Ovechkin, Russia and Caps posterboy, was really nowhere last night. I don’t like to be too critical of my favorite player in the world, but Russia’s performance last night was eerily similar to a certain game 7 last spring.

Russia’s best player last night was Ilya Kovalchuk, who sparked play by being the only forward to swing back and assist his defensemen and create forward rushes. His line of Pavel Datsyuk and Maxim Afinogenov were the only plus players on Russia. Ovechkin looked to be sprung into the offensive zone all night by his defensemen, a strategy that never paid dividends. He just didn’t have it last night, which might have been a product of having two or three Canadians defending him at all times. But that should open up space for the other Russia players, right? Wrong. Russia’s defensemen where atrocious, to the degree of British Elite League play — which in case you didn’t know is pretty terrible. They never passed to the forwards when the opportunity was presented, instead being forced into the boards by Canadian forecheckers. That, I’m sure, discouraged the Russian forwards even more than Canadian physicality.

A major hockey media outlet said before the Olympic break that the Games are a win/win for Ovechkin and the Capitals, as he’ll be angrier than ever for missing out on Gold in his second of five possible Winter Games or stoked from winning and wanting to win both Stanley and the yellow stuff in the same year. That remains to be seen.

A US/Canada rematch would be an awesome finale, seeing as how Sweden is no longer in the mix either. If the US does meet Canada again, I believe the US has significant claim to the best in the world and not just the best in this tournament. The good news for me is that the medal round games are contested on the weekend, when watching them while streets are cleaned and taverns are locked up won’t impact my schoolwork so much.

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This entry was posted in Alexander Ovechkin, Olympic hockey, TV, USA Hockey, Vancouver Olympics, Washington Capitals. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Middle-of-the-Night Olympic Hockey Following Overseas

  1. Sherrie Van Houten says:

    When Kovalchuk and Afineginov are 2 of your 3 most defensively responsible forwards, you know you’ve got trouble.

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