Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Judgement Day Torino

Time for Team Canada to "Play Whack a Mole"
Had to get up at O-Dark-Thirty for work today, and I find myself really getting jazzed about today's action. As the morning rolls on, I find myself more and more interested in the Canada v. Russia tilt. If the Finns beat Team USA today, that's Ok. I'd kind of like to see the Finns bask in some long-overdue glow. As long as somebody lays some solid lumber to Ollie Jokinen, I'll be good whatever the outcome.

I can't seem to help it. I still dislike Russians. If you grew up a Red Sox fan, you still hate the Yankees even though Bucky Dent is long gone. I see Ilya Kovalchuk preening, pouting, and showboating his way through an NHL season, and I'm reminded that I don't like Russians. I see Alex Ovechkin talking smack at the WJC and blowing kisses to himself, and I'm reminded that I don't like Russians. I see Darius Kasparitis lay a cheap shot to somebody's knee, and I'm reminded that I don't like Russians.

The only Soviet I've ever really liked was a guy named Helmut Balderis. I once saw him do something very un-Soviet in a game at some olympics. He carried the puck over the blueline with only the defenseman and goalie to beat, did a 360 spin, dropped the defenseman on his can, and roofed one for a goal. It was only later that I found out Helmut wasn't even Russian. He was Latvian and hated playing for Victor Tikanov and the Soviets.

Mike over at Confessions has a post questioning the whether the Miracle on Ice was really all that. His line, "If you listen to the "historians", they talk about the Commies as if they were 40 feet tall, had three eyes, and they feasted on rubber tires," shows the degree of his skepticism. I was 18 in 1980, and yes, Lake Placid was that 'Uuuuge. The Soviet hockey system was without parallel. These guys were like Spartans, conscripted into the Red Army at a young age and groomed to play together like a well-oiled machine. The Soviets invested a ton of national prestige in the sport of hockey. They treated their record of hockey dominance as a testiment to the superiority of their political system. Those who lived through the time still look back in awe of the stunning victory pulled off by a bunch of over-achieving college boys and their quirky coach.

I'll try to watch both games today around intrusive things like work, but the game I'll probably get real worked up about is Canada/Russia. Today, I don't care about how the jerks at the WJC treated our boys. Today it's about somebody from our side of the pond going to battle against the evil empire, version 2.0. Today it's about Ryan Smyth parking in front of the net, taking the punishment and slamming one home. Today it's about Chris Pronger mauling some little Ivan who dares to try and screen his goalie. Today it's about Shane Doan rolling Ilya Kovalchuk over the sideboards and into the Team Canada bench (where he might get a nice facial massage). And today it's still going to be about big, fast and physical North American hockey vs. the finesse of Soviet-style Eurohockey.

Predictions sure to be forgotten:
Canada 5 Red Army 3
Finland 4 USA 1


JP said...

Don't forget, today's the 26th anniversary of the Miracle and the US is playing the team they had to beat in the gold medal game back in '80... anything can happen.

Oh, nice picture, by the way.

CasonBlog said...

Lord I hope so. I'm having trouble getting excited about this squad. I wonder how we'd be sitting today if Ryan Miller had been in the pipes since day one. Not all venom for your boy Ovechkin. Kid plays with unbelievable energy and an obvious love of the game. Sometimes his youthful immaturity gets the better of him. Kovalchuk on the other hand...

Stormbringer said...

I find it veeeeery hard to like Russian players. Kolvalchuk certainly does not help...nor does Ovechkin (though, I certainly cannot deny the talent the kid has).

Therefore, go Canada.

The Acid Queen said...

See, I have no problem with Ovechkin. He's talented, loves to hit, and is really very charming (and he's honest about being his own favorite player).

Kvalchuk, OTOH, is a little bitch.

And I still miss Danny Markov (well OK, I miss bumming a cig from him after practice every once in a blue moon, but still).

CasonBlog said...

AQ-I miss Danny as well. Talk about a guy who just loved to play and loved to hit. Love Justin Williams, but I wish we could have given Philly somebody other than Markov.