CANADA 3 - 2 UNITED STATES (OT)
Usually after a crushing loss I'll say three words and go straight to the bullet points. This time though, I gots to say a little something:
NHL -- please, please, please participate in the 2014 games.
The past two weeks might have been the most enjoyable stretch of hockey in my spectating career. That has to sound sacrilege to Wings fans who, like me, have watched their team win four Stanley Cups in their lifetimes (Unless your name is Hockeytown Todd, in which case you have not only seen all 11 Cup victories, but also the Detroit Chimney Sweeps post-Civil War championship run from 1871 to 1878 in the Midwestern Broomball League.) But consider that the Olympic tournament includes a shorter time for emotional investment, a higher concentration of talent, national pride, Jagr's mullet -- which now comes with a stellar, graying beard -- and you have a fantastic recipe for making the greatest sport on the planet even more fun to watch. Hell, I was watching Belarus v. Germany like a 14 year old stumbling across some unscrambled porn. The whole thing is exciting to an infinite degree, regardless of who's playing. I just can't watch enough of it.
And that might be the last of us getting to witness the Best vs. the Best. I'd still watch an amateur hockey tournament intently and get behind any U.S. squad, but it wouldn't come within sniffing distance of what we just got to see. For someone like me who doesn't have your fancy-pants Center Ice TV package, getting to watch the likes of Zach Parise and Ryan Kesler and Dustin Brown and the Johnsons and Miller and Jonathan Quick awkwardly wearing a dress shirt and tie under a hockey sweater was phenomenal. I went from being somewhat of a closet-because-he-plays-in-New Jersey fan of Parise to a raging-out-of-the-closet-homoZachtual fan who can't keep his pants on when #9 for the U.S. hops over the boards. If I'm starting a team right now, I don't think there are more than five guys who I'd rather take first than Parise. Wings included. Hell, maybe three guys, even.
His equalizer with 25 seconds left in the game: instantly one of my favorite sports memories ever. Holy lord that whole sequence was nuts. This tournament didn't need Overtime in the Gold Medal Game to make it outstanding and it happened anyway. I'm still a little shady on what ensued after it was 2-2 because I lit myself on fire and ran through a screen door .... I'm trying to work on how to properly celebrate a big goal and I can assure you that this is not the way to go. Your suggestions are welcome.
Thoughts on the game/tournament:
- When you look back at Ryan Miller getting the MVP of the tournament, it's funny how obvious this was. He was on the losing team and it was still obvious that he was the MVP of the Olympics. I can't remember ever seeing this in any other sport. I mean if they tried to give it to CrosHAHAHAHAHA ..... *ahem*, sorry .... CrosbyHAHAHAHAHAH oh hell I can't even finish this sentence.
- The list of U.S. players that I came away very impressed with is long. Actually I'm trying to think of guys that I wasn't blown away by and it's sort of taxing. Phil Kessel, I guess. Sort of. Pat Kane, but only in a couple of instances. Tim Thomas? Okay, Tim Thomas.
- Ryan Suter is one smooth defender. Something about his pairing with Brian Rafalski turned Raf into a 25 year-old point machine and made him look better than he's looked in two years. Let's kidnap him from Nashville and keep the chemistry rolling. (It's so much easier to say stupid shit when you remove logic and the salary cap from your reasoning. Go ahead, try it out on your spouses and co-workers. Go tell Nancy at the fax machine that the Wings should get Suter in exchange for Brett Lebda, a first rounder, a Hot-n-Ready pizza and a million unicorn puppy dollars.)
- For once it was nice to see a Babcockian team give up that mindfuckingly depressing late goal. That must suck, to want your team to win so badly and to have victory seconds away, only to have it snatched from you in the cruelest fashion imaginable. Whatever that feels like.
- I try to avoid certain trends, like excessive Crosby bashing. Don't get me wrong, I think he's a douche like 98% of you, but I just don't hate him. He hasn't harmed my family like I'm convinced he's done to some of you people out there. And yet ..... how fucking horrible that that little shitdick got to be the hero. Man alive. The dude is an absolute ghost for three whole games, and then he scores THE goal. Think of the non-hockey people that tune in only to the biggest of big games -- like, SCF Game 7's and Gold Medal games. They probably think Crosby is Michael Jordan Christ and can turn water into gold with his balls. Think of the children, dammit. WHAT ABOUT OUR CHILDREN.
- Another trend is "Luongo isn't elite because he isn't clutch" talk. If it isn't trendy enough to say that Crosby is downright bad at hockey, it's like uber trendy to pick on Boberto for his big game gaffes now. I used to poo-poo these thoughts with a dismissive hand wave, and I'd even say the words "poo-poo" out loud because I'm 6 and that sort of thing makes me blush, but there's a bit of evidence here now. He looked WAY shaky at times and if an insanely talented team wasn't playing in front of him we might of seen more of it.
- How in the shit is Mike Babcock supposed to coach a completely different hockey team the very next night, in a completely different setting, with players he hasn't seen or talked to in two weeks? I ask you, has anything in your life been more inexplicable than this one situation?
- I am more scared of Rick Nash than prison rape. Every time he makes that ferocious move where he cuts to the net with the puck, I think that somebody is literally going to die. That's not a joke.
- Players who I didn't know were as good as they were before the Olympics (not that I hadn't seen them before, but rather, their performance bumped them up a notch) -- Ryan Suter, Drew Doughty, Ryan Kesler, Old Jaromir Jagr, David Krejci, Erik Johnson, Jaroslav Halak, Uwe Krupp's ageless face and everybody that wasn't Russian.
- Players who performed exactly as I expected -- Evgeni Nabokov.
TOP THREE FROM TEAM U.S.A:
(For the whole tournament)
#3 ~ Brian Rafalski .... Am I correct in assuming that he finished the tournament with the most points? Thought I heard that somewhere long the way. I'm too afraid to open up a new tab without having Crosby shoved down my ass.
#2 ~ Zach Parise .... Darren Helm's energy mixed with superb offensive instincts. I'm going to guess that he's the U.S. captain of the 2014 team.
#1 ~ Ryan Miller .... that's pure Michigan.
This wraps up our spotty Olympic coverage. Join us later this week as our spotty Red Wing coverage resumes, pending victories I guess.
***** U-S-A *****
Congratulations on a great two week run, U.S. players who won't ever see this.