Canada’s Olympic hockey team began the tournament dazed and confused, but look at them now.
It began with an 8-2 thrashing of the Germans, and the snowball grew even bigger tonight against the Russians as Team Canada steamrolled 7-3 over Alex Ovechkin and his teammates, making the gap-toothed superstar look very ordinary, and for that matter, making all of the Russian squad look ordinary.
Russia was outmatched in all aspects of the game, starting with less-than-strong goaltending from Evgeni Nabokov, and ending with a lacklustre performance from a lineup we looked at two weeks ago and decided it was as formidable as it could possibly get. Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk, Datsyuk, Semin, Markov, Gonchar. Could they be beaten?
Canada must thank the Americans for waking them up, and the idea that Canada needed that extra game by losing to the US holds water completely. They needed a jolt, got it, and are now playing like they absolutely want gold. For the rest of the teams left, you just saw what you’re in for if you manage to get far enough to meet the maple leaf.
I hope Ryan O’Byrne was paying attention tonight, wherever he may be. I hope he watched closely the play of Shea Weber. Both are big, young defensemen, and if O’Byrne learns to use his strength like Weber, intimidate, and fire a big shot the way Weber can, then Montreal will have a blue-chip defenceman in number 20. That’s the way a big, strong, mobile defenceman should play, and I now understand why Weber was chosen for Team Canada. What a force to be reckoned with.
Shea Weber and Drew Doughty wearing the bleu, blanc, rough of Les Canadiens. Hey, I can dream, can’t I?
I watched this beauty with two Russian ladies and a little Russian girl, and it was very interesting. One lady, a good friend, brought her Russian flag and cheered loudly, at least until Canada had scored three goals. The other Russian lady, my wife, confessed that her heart said Russia. After Canada had scored about their fifth goal, the Russian friend phoned her son and asked if they should start cheering for Canada and he said no. The little Russian girl said she didn’t want either team to lose. I said I hoped Canada destroyed Russia and I needed more goals.
Canada got two goals from Corey Perry and singles from Ryan Getzlaf, Dan Boyle, Rick Nash, Brenden Morrow, and Shea Weber. It was a strong, dominant, surprising game, with pretty passing plays and chemistry oozing out of every pore. The Americans are now thinking about asking Brian Burke if they can go home early.
Canada plays Friday against the winner of Sweden-Slovakia, who don’t start play until later tonight.