Our guts over their great ones.
Our energy over anything ending in, "Eh!"
America's shakin'. Canadians, bakin'?
U.S. hockey showed these Winter Olympics are going to be more than sequins, soul patches and Shauns. (Halfpipe? Do you snowboard it or smoke it?) For one shining moment, all those American teeth weren't lost for nothing. In fact, the U.S. showed we can still play some exciting puck even if for the last three decades most of America hasn't cared. Our boys' 5-3 victory over Canada in a preliminary round game Sunday night is already being called the greatest Olympic hockey victory since the Miracle on Ice.
No argument from this side of the border. Like I said, a lot of the viewers Sunday on MSNBC (no network, thanks NBC) night haven't seen a hockey game since February 22, 1980.
Seventeen of the current U.S. players were born after that date so let's call it even.
It still seems like when it comes to the Olympics, Uncle Sam's skating army has a flair for the dramatic. It was almost like a U.S. team full of professionals was feeding off the energy from those plucky college kids in 1980. Let's not forget that it was the U.S. that pushed Canada to the brink of the rink eight years ago in Salt Lake City (losing the gold medal game). Let's also not forget that those Canadians finished seventh four years ago in Turin.
Upset? Maybe not. U.S./Detroit defenseman Brian Ralfalski is playing his best hockey of the season in the twilight of his career. Chris Drury, a fading talent as a goal scorer in the NHL, scored from a scrum around the Canadian net.
Perhaps most satisfying for the U.S. was that Sidney Crosby was muffled for most of the night. Not only was Crosby on the ice for three U.S. goals, he also deflected in Rafalski's first goal and took a third-period penalty. Sid the Kid was mostly on the skids, despite scoring a late goal to cut the lead to 4-3.
Oh Canada, which way now? A legend with three Stanley Cups (Martin Brodeur) got outplayed by a skinny kid from East Lansing, Mich. (Ryan Miller). OK, Miller might be the NHL's best goalie this season but he was definitely the underdog along with the rest of the American mutts coming into the Sunday.
The outcome assures nothing for either side but it puts our icy northern neighbor in a state of shock for the moment. It's clear Canada has the better hockey country and the better hockey team. Just not on Sunday. There is something to be said for good ol' American pride. We still can't build a decent car but we can somehow build momentum on an Olympic ice rink in British Columbia. Canada was thrown off stride by something we've lost sight of on the assembly line and the board room -- America's hustle. When we set our minds to it we can do some great things. Right now it's about putting a puck in the net but maybe the magic will -- who knows? -- bleed over to the economy.
In the end, the U.S. was badly outplayed at times but worked harder than the haughty Canadians. All you have to do is look at the game's final goal. The U.S.'s Ryan Kesler (of the Vancouver Canucks) outhustled Canada's Corey Perry for the puck to stick it in the empty net for an insurance goal. A Canuck beat a Canuck and every American loved it.
"I hate them," Kesler told Yahoo Sports Canada before the game.
He spoke something wholly Ugly American. Kesler trash talked and then backed it up. Wasn't it great?
For now, all it means is that the U.S. won Group A. Meanwhile, Canada slinked off the ice and its fans into the streets a very depressed group, eh?