Well I said the best the US would do is bronze and Canada would win gold. I still might be right, as much as I like to see the US win their third gold medal (1960 & 1980) in Olympic Hockey history they couldn't have had an easier path cleared to the medal round.
Two wins against a feisty but less talented Switzerland squad, a snoozer over Norway and in a game against Canada that they were desperately outplayed but won 5-3, they could have named Martin Brodeur their number one star. Face it, as much as I loved rubbing my Canadian hockey goofball friends noses in the perverbial doggie doo doo of a loss, I doo doo realize they were dominated by Team Canada and Alex Auld probably would have been able to hang on to a 3-2 victory for the home squad.
But now they will get tested but not too badly. Finland has been solid, and play a sound defensive game by not making a lot of mistakes in their own zone. They also have thrived at transitioning on turnovers forced at their defensive line. Out of the big six or seven teams in the tournament the United States victory over Canada has given them an opportunity to go for gold.
Thats because of the swiss cheese effort by the greatest goalie of all time, thus leaving the US clear of Sweden, Russia, and Canada up until the finals. The problem with the undeserved win in one of the most exhausting and exciting hockey games that I have in my memory, is that Canada knew they dominated the youngsters from the south and now have awaken with more anger and fury than Nancy Grace on a hangover.
The 5-3 victory may have done something for moral in the states but it has fired up the Canadians so, that they have routed Germany and medal favorite Russia by a combined 15-5. The most impressive component of the Canadians at this point is there work ethic, like when Rick Nash blew by the Russian forwards to join the rush and push the home squad ahead 3-0 before anyone blinked. Even captain Scott Niedermeyer played better after a slow start to the Olympics helping shutdown the Russians top line.
When your facing a team as forward stacked as the Russians, headed by their Rasputin like line (You know, the line that won't go away) of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, and Alexandre Semin you better have some guys that are ready to work all night and that's just what the Canadians got. Jonathan Toews, Rick Nash, and Mike Richards shutdown the big line and did it efficiently and early by capitalizing on turnovers and forcing the Big Red Machines into bad areas on the ice. It was a resounding win for Team Canada announcing they were back in gold medal contention.
It is now the US and Finland, and Canada and the upstart Slovaks to now contend for the medals, which one will claim gold? Well, I am pretty sure the overwhelming favorite would be the hometown favorite and when they claim it on Sunday in Vancouver, the chants of U-S-A, U-S-A, may have just been loud enough to have awaken the sleeping giant.
I may have had Canada for gold and the US for Bronze but I also had Latvia in the quarterfinals and Russia the silver medalist, so I'll just continue to believe in miracles and cheer for Ryan Miller, too bad it has to end! U-S-A, U-S-A!