Olympic Hockey, Day One: Women Rule, Czechs Drool

Jayne Kamin-Oncea

Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea

Though the women have been playing since the weekend, Wednesday marked my first day actually following the Olympic “ice hockey” tournaments. From now until USA wins gold (both men and women, obviously), I’ll be offering a daily digest of cool stuff that has happened on the ice and miscellaneous musings on the Games as a whole.

It ain’t a game recap, but I’ll try to keep it just as stupid.

Let’s get down to it.

Women: Canada 3, USA 2

I’m not a morning person. I believe all the best stuff in life happens after 1 am, which for me is still technically night. I believe we should just bide our time playing Flappy Bird until then. Waking up for this big women’s match of the day was a little tough for me, but once I was up, I was glad I did it. This was by far the best game of the day, and I’m psyched to see these teams collide again in the finals– as they are contractually obligated to do.

But it wouldn’t be international hockey without some spotty officiating. A whole bunch of penalties went uncalled, including what could have been a pivotal too-many-men penalty for Canada. (Hey, quick interlude: aren’t gender-specific pronouns hilaaaaaarious?).

Canada’s go-ahead goal was a bit of a fiasco as well. The goal was clean, but the ref blew the whistle before it crossed the goal line. So it was kind of like the lie/truth gate from Labyrinth: the whistle shouldn’t have been blown, so the goal should count, but the ref did blow the whistle and the puck hadn’t crossed the goal line yet, so it shouldn’t. I’m confused.

I give up. That’s why I’m not an official. That and the lack of good judgement, skating ability, or interpersonal skills.

So Canada scored three times in a very strong third period to take a 3-2 win over the Americans. We’ll do this all again in the finals on February 20th. In the meantime, both teams are gonna mollywhomp everybody else in the tourney.

Dudes: Sweden 4, Czech Republic 2

Finally, the puck drops for mens hockey. The young bucks of Sweden (plus Daniel Alfredsson) kind of dominated the stodgy old, curiously assembled mess that is the Czech roster, but we got a somewhat interesting and deceptively close game out of it anyway.

Just for reference: the Czechs’ Petr Nedved and Jaromir Jagr are 41 years old. Nedved hasn’t played in the NHL since 2007, when Justin Bieber was twelve and “tea party” still meant acting like an idiot with your five-year-old niece. They’re the creaky old veterans for CZE, and they’re actually not that bad. Jagr scored as part of the Czech’s doomed comeback effort and looked surprisingly spry– as he always does. But if they’re supposed to be the team’s core, wuh oh.

I won’t pretend to know the goaltending situation in the Czech Republic, and I’m far from a booster for Ondrej Pavelec, but one can’t help but question the choice to start Jakub Kovar with Alexander Salak as a backup rather than a guy who has already seen 1300 shots from NHL players this season. Kovar bled three goals in the first period and change before getting chased. Salak’s first shot was a goal, but he mellowed out after that– a big reason why this didn’t look like the blowout it should have been.

On the other hand, Martin Erat got twelve minutes of ice– more than he got in his first seven games with the Caps this season. He committed a penalty that led to a goal, but also did some stirring work at the end of the second period that changed up the momentum. Oh yeah: and he got boarded, which was uncool if you ask me. Some folks maintain Jiri Hudler of the Flames would’ve been a better pick, but I still think Erat compares favorably

Doesn’t matter. Sweden is just a way better team. Erik Karlsson threatened a hat trick and Alex Steen put three shots on net. Nick Backstrom got only 15 minutes of ice, but contributed an assist to the win. It could’ve been 7-2, frankly.

So I’m feeling pretty okay about my Sweden-for-gold pick, and I’m feeling pretty okay about snubbing the Czechs as well.

P.S. how snazzy were the blue Swede uniforms? So much nicer than that garish yellow, right?

Bros: Switzerland 1, Latvia 0

I hardly caught this one, but I did tune in in time to see Latvia blow the tie with just 8 seconds left. Nashville’s Simon Moser got a squeaker past an overworked  Edgars Masalskis (“who?” Exactly) on Switzerland’s 38th and final shot of the game.

That was the only goal, as the Ducks’ Jonas Hiller coasted to a 21-save shutout. Looks like Latvia is headed for another prelim exit. Bummer.

All in all, a pretty positive first day of the tourney for the men. We haven’t seen the high-stakes, head-to-head, all-all-stars/all-the-time hockey yet, but it’s coming. On Saturday morning, to be precise.

On the women’s side, that was probably the best game we’ll see until the very end. If you didn’t catch this morning and don’t mind already knowing how it ends, you owe it to yourself to catch it now.

Moving on: we’ve got an epic but as-of-yet nameless storm headed into town tonight, so I have a feeling the entire mid-Atlantic is going to be shut down on Thursday. That means two things, which I’ll list for you now:

  1. Bad opening week receipts for the totally unnecessary but favorably reviewed Robocop movie, and
  2. A whole bunch of people watching USA’s and Russia’s games at 7:30 AM.

I’ll certainly try to be up , watching on dual screens, wearing my American flag underpants and setting off fireworks in the house. As one does.

Then, at noon, Canada will disembowel Norway while the world watches. Should be fun.

Tagged with:
  • Chris Cerullo

    Nicky was great and I love that they have Daniel and Loui playing with him. I caught the whole game and the Czech’s switching from Kovar to Salak is what got them back into it. I also hate to say it but that 40-something year old wearing #68 has still got plenty left in the tank.

  • Jayleigh

    I have such a girl crush on the USA women’s team! Especially Knight and Vetter. Wow. Makes me wish I could find a way-back machine and become a hockey player instead of a graphic designer.

  • Chris Cerullo

    My number in high school was 68 because my coach was a dick.

  • Chris Cerullo

    Also, could the Czech team do a worse job at selecting their squad?

  • Chris Cerullo

    I wish I could upvote this 400 times

  • Freedoooom

    Czechs played a good game majority of the game, but the problem is they were down 4-0 when they started playing good. Neuvirth should be on the team and the starter.

    Backstrom was big meh. His assist was nothing special.

    Hilary Knight is a Capitals fan, closest thing womens hockey has to Ovechkin.

  • Diller M

    You asked for 69 didn’t you…

  • Jake Ettawakapow

    My bae. I would say “babe” but everyone is calling her bae on twitter lol

  • The Dong

    That goal shouldn’t have counted, but what do you expect when you have a woman referee from Switzerland? USA was totally deflated after that.

  • “what do you expect when you have a woman referee from Switzerland”

    There are so many things wrong with this, I don’t even know where to begin.

  • CapsFan4403


  • Toronto Caps Fan

    Peter Nedved was brutal. Clearly too slow, saw this tweet “Nedved just took 2nd penalty of the game. Has 252 PIMs over his past two
    seasons in the Czech League. Not fighting. Just waterskiing around.” I think that says it all.

  • BoBo95


  • Chris Cerullo

    No when he asked I said “I have no preference” and he being “hilarious” gave me 68…

  • wrong thing #1 is that it’s not deleted yet

    lemme rectify that now

  • johnnymorte

    I think any team that gives up more than two goals against this Swedish team is going to be in trouble. Can someone please explain to me why the Czech goalie wasn’t pulled with a two goal deficit? Do they count GF and against during the tournament in the qualification process? Hilary Knight is a stone fox.

  • brian!

    Check out the Japanese women’s team too if you have a chance, it’s their first Olympic appearance since Nagano, and they seem like a fun bunch.