Blog Entry

Peaking at the perfect time

Posted on: February 26, 2010 5:59 pm
  •  
 
Maybe there’s no way to say No Mas in Finnish.

Too bad.  Short of a mercy rule, that might have been the best thing for Team Finland after it ended the first period needing a converted touchdown to win.

Team USA got contributions from a variety of players, including big guns  Zach Parise and Patrick Kane and put this game away so fast – scoring all of its goals in 6-1 rout before the game was 13 minutes old – the Finns really would have been better off using the time to rest up for their bronze medal encounter.

Heads hanging that low can be tiring after all. Especially after they’ve swiveled as often as they did when Team USA players skated by them. 

This actually had the look of Harlem Globetrotters against Washington Generals production, at least until the Americans went into cruise control at the start of the second period. By then, the only thing in doubt was who Team USA will face in the gold medal game Sunday and how much momentum it will carry over.

And they were fair questions after Team USA ran roughshod over a veteran team, albeit one that came remarkably unglued as soon as Ryan Malone opened the scoring two minutes in. One thing does seem clear though. This Team USA group, dubbed a ‘work-in-progress’ by its brain trust at the outset of the Games, is clicking and more important, hitting its peak right on schedule.

The Americans came into this semifinal with the only undefeated record in the tournament, largely as a result of their surprisingly tight team defense and Ryan Miller’s goaltending. Those parts of their game didn’t seem to lose any edge despite the weak test from Finland, but what had to be more encouraging heading into the one-game championship was the offensive display they put on against a team known for its defense.

Team USA had already overwhelmed a weaker Swiss team with a similar level of attack in the quarterfinal game, but it had to squeak out a third-period victory because netminder Jonas Hiller stood on his head. If anything, it was a reminder that a hot goalie can be a difference maker and perhaps steal a game for an underdog, something the Americans seemed cognizant of going up against Finland’s Miikka Kiprusoff.

From the outset, Team USA came at an overwhelmed Kiprusoff, the goalie who told Finnish officials that he would stay home if he wasn’t the team’s starter. Maybe Finland should have let him, because after allowing just four prior goals in the tournament, Kiprusoff gave up that many before being pulled – way too late -- in favor of Niklas Backstrom.

Then again it might not have mattered had Finland made the switch earlier. Finland has plenty of international and Olympic medal-winning experience on their roster, but they are an older and slower team and Team USA’s speed and energy quickly proved to be too much for them in this game. When they tried to compensate, the Finns ended up taking penalties, which the American converted the first two to blow things open. 

Beyond that, it was a matter of playing out the string for the Americans, a process that wasn’t too taxing because Finland was essentially in the same mode. Overall though, it easily Team USA’s most complete and certainly its most electrifying effort of the tournament, a coming together of all the parts of their game.

And just in time for the gold medal contest Sunday.
  •  
Category: NHL
Comments

Since: Jan 30, 2010
Posted on: February 28, 2010 12:49 am
 

Peaking at the perfect time

I'm a Minnesotan who's living in Edmonton, Canada for a year but there is no question to where my loyalties lie. Same for one of my friends at school who just moved here from Virginia. We rubbed it in a little this week, but quite honestly, I'm not sure I want to face the Canadians again if they're as angry about the loss as my friends. Anyway, this game won't be as bad-tempered as the women's game. Did anybody in the States hear about this deal with the Canadian girls drinking and smoking on the ice after the game? It's overblown but honestly, is it necessary? There's a lot of bad blood in that rivalry. Not so with the guys, they all know each other from the NHL and really it's more about taking care of business than shout-outs to the other team. About rooting for Canada, the US is the best team to watch! They hustle more than any of the other teams and they're starting to really get it all together. Did you see the first goal against the Fins? Great hustle play, exactly one of two reasons WHY this team beat the Canadians in the first game (the other obviously being Ryan Miller). This team is going to be sick if they can continue to improve heading to Russia in 4 years.



Since: Feb 27, 2010
Posted on: February 27, 2010 8:46 pm
 

Peaking at the perfect time

The "Habs" are the Canadiens.  They are an NHL team based in Montreal.  The Canadians (with an a, not an e) will hopefully win the gold.  The Habs would get beaten rather badly by the US Olympic team.



Since: Aug 16, 2009
Posted on: February 27, 2010 4:25 pm
 

Peaking at the perfect time

perfromed well enough to have the most gold medals at the current moment. but yeah good job dominating with all those siver and bronze medals. YOu get another silver tomorrow so congrats



Since: Feb 27, 2010
Posted on: February 27, 2010 1:54 pm
 

Peaking at the perfect time

Check the Gold Medal count there guy.  Canada is on top.  You take take all the silver and bronze you want, its Gold that  matters.  As the great American hero Ricky Bobby would say, "if ye ain't first, yer last."



Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: February 27, 2010 10:00 am
 

Peaking at the perfect time

From the medal standings that I looked at this morning, Canada has more gold medals than the US. I know it is a meagher total, but I'll take 13 Gold medals from 30 million Canadians anyday over the 9 the US will get from their 300 million.

Way to burn us on that one though. Good thing you're paying attention.



Since: Apr 14, 2009
Posted on: February 27, 2010 2:22 am
 

Peaking at the perfect time

21 medals with 10 gold is meager?



Since: Jan 6, 2010
Posted on: February 27, 2010 1:39 am
 

check out the gold medal total

were close to the record amount  and the fans and home athletes have performed just fine...maybe  u should worry abt your froeclosures,job losses,and your crooked banks who fleece the  pockets of joe american eh



Since: Jan 6, 2010
Posted on: February 27, 2010 1:35 am
 

go to disney to see the fatties

american kids are huge...i think they eat too many chips and butter and crappy junk food.they should hold the fatazz olys down there...hahaha



Since: Jan 11, 2007
Posted on: February 27, 2010 12:17 am
 

Peaking at the perfect time

Our medal total is meager?  We've won the most golds so far...



Since: Feb 21, 2009
Posted on: February 26, 2010 10:19 pm
 

Peaking at the perfect time

I think our medal total is excellent given our total population.  The states has 10 times the population, but 2 times the medal total.  Think about how many medals the states would have if American staples like "collection of body mass" or "low IQ" were medal events.

We're in for a great game no matter what.  The caliber of hockey at this Olympics has been spectacular.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com