The nation finished third in total medals, but Canada went on to win in both women's and men's ice hockey. Today, the Canadian men's ice hockey team finished off the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics in dramatic fashion. Jarome Iginla on the right sideboards passed it up to Sidney Crosby, who shot the puck through American goaltender Ryan Miller in overtime seal Canada's eighth gold medal in men's ice hockey (second since 1956). Here is the official boxscore from the official 2010 Vancouver Olympics website. Given how the game went, it warrants further commentary about both teams.
The game itself was tense, exciting, and aggressive from minute one up until minute 67. You couldn't ask much more from a hockey game. Shots? Canada led 39-36. Defensive plays? Numerous blocks by both sides. Big saves? Ryan Miller played out of his mind again and Roberto Luongo actually made some difficult stops. Goals? Canada scored 2 in regulation thanks to two defensive errors by the Americans: Jonathan Toews scored on the rebound after his line forced a turnover by the Americans down low and Corey Perry took Ryan Whitney's blocked pass in the slot and drilled it past Miller. America got 2 in regulation in response: Ryan Kesler tipped Patrick Kane's shot right at Luongo and it popped in, and with 25 seconds left, Zach Parise puts home a loose puck to force overtime.
The game was up and down, with both teams trading off chances. I felt Canada had more consistent pressure for longer stretches, but in regulation, the Americans kept it close in all facets. Overtime was where Canada shined. They started rolling early and the Americans were pinned back more often than not. After a few glorious chances gone begging, the defense (and Miller) couldn't get the puck out when Canada rushed in again with the Crosby line. Then Iginla fed Crosby, who became Canada's newest national hero.
All credit to Canada. They didn't look shocked or surprised after Parise's late goal. How they handled themselves was ideal for much of the game and especially in overtime. Their defense handled the aggressive American forecheck well and so Luongo didn't see a lot of clean shots in the slot for momentous big saves. Yet at the same time, America's approach to the game was fine (though perhaps they tried carrying the puck in over the blueline at defenders too many times); they just couldn't respond properly in overtime. Canada was just better, exerting their will on the ice.
Like many American supporters, I'm disappointed that they had to settle for silver after coming so close. Yet, I am proud of the team's performance. Zach Parise (4 G, 4 A, 20 SOG) and Jamie Langenbrunner (1 G, 3 A, 12 SOG) had great tournaments and were instrumental to the Americans doing what they did in Vancouver.
Congratulations to Martin Brodeur and Canada for winning the gold medal.
The Final Results: Canada won the gold in men's ice hockey; the United States earned the silver; and Finland won the bronze. Per the IIHF, the media all-star teams and IIHF directorate awards are now released. The United States' goaltender, Ryan Miller, earned the Olympics MVP nod from the media. Miller deserves the accolades - he was simply fantastic all tournament.
Media All-Star Team:
G – Ryan Miller (USA)
D – Brian Rafalski (USA), Shea Weber (CAN)
F – Jonathan Toews (CAN), Zach Parise (USA), Pavol Demitra (SVK)
MVP – Ryan Miller (USA)
The Directorate Awards were also announced:
Best Goalie: Ryan Miller (USA)
Best Defenceman: Brian Rafalski (USA)
Best Forward: Jonathan Toews (CAN)
By the way, I'd like to make an important point, this one is for the fans who watched and enjoyed the men's ice hockey tournament in the Winter Olympics. The hockey played at the tournament was excellent in large part to the NHL players participating. While the players want to be there for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the NHL (as in the owners, this isn't all Gary Bettman's call, he's just the messenger) hasn't made a decision yet. Keep in mind, the NHL shut down for 2 weeks and while one could argue that the sport of hockey had a great gold medal final to sell people on the sport; the reality is that there hasn't been a significant increase in attendance or TV ratings in Olympic years. Derek Zona breaks down the hard reality with this article, it's a pretty large elephant in the room.
My point? If you want to see the NHL still take part in the Olympics, if you want to support hockey, then do this. Go to a NHL game (or several). Watch NHL games on TV, be it on local or national (Versus/NBC in US, CBC/Sportsnet/etc.) broadcasts. Tell others about checking out the NHL. If there's not a big enough bump in business after these games - especially after such an excellent USA-Canada final - then there's not much sense for the NHL to shutdown for the Olympics in the future. So we need to have it make some sense. I feel that there needs to be a bump in business if want the NHL to go to Sochi and future games. It's up to us to make it worthwhile for the NHL to continue going to the Olympics. So let's make it happen.
Lastly, many American fans now have a new reason to dislike Sidney Crosby. As a reminder, Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins will be playing the New Jersey Devils on March 12 and March 17 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Think about checking that one out and hoping for some revenge against the Hyped One.
UPDATE: If there's one other recap of the Gold Medal final, this is the one you should read. Yes, I'm promoting one done by a Rangers support - that's how good it is.