Olympic Hockey, Day Two: USA FTW

Carly et al

Photo: AP

Neither Martin Erat nor Nick Backstrom scored in the first day of the mens tournament, so Caps Olympians haven’t got a whole lot of highlight-reel time so far. That changed real early on Thursday as Alex Ovechkin scored on his very first shift and John Carlson started off a scoring explosion for Aaaaaaaaaaamerica.

Unless your loyalties lie with Milan Jurcina and the Slovenians, Caps fans probably enjoyed Thursday’s hockey. I didn’t exactly relish my five-screen experience (USA on the TV, RUS on the laptop, notes on the other laptop, social on the iPad, Flappy Bird on the iPhone), I think I’ve gotta call it a successful morning as well. Shaybu, y’all.

Let’s do the recap.

USA 7, Slovakia 1

Captain America

Captain America

Clad in pajamas and wrapped in blankets, the entire snowbound east coast of the States tuned in for this one– saying in unison as the puck dropped, “wait, which team is America?” In the navy and white, the Slovaks! In the white and navy, USA! Very helpful uniform coordination guys. Bravo.

Like I said, John Carlson opened up a torrent of scoring for the good guys, taking a drop-pass from Amanda’s brother to beat Jaroslav Halak, the much-hated goal/wall from the fabled 2010 Caps-Habs playoff series.

The second period was a monster. Scoring came from all four lines, and the Americans were able to do the undoable: chase Halak from net. Peter Budaj got just as perforated though, as Paul Stastny and the Torontonian delegation (JVR, Phil Kessel) all contributed to a heckuva lotta scoring.

Zdeno Chara played just 18 minutes for the Slovaks, which is just wrong. He usually plays between 22 and 30 minutes in Boston. Looks like we’re seeing all-star ice time policies in this tournament– regardless of the stakes or the talent differential on these teams.

The USA’s plus-six goal differential should look good if the prelim round ends in a tie– though I doubt that will happen. On Saturday morning, the US will face Russia. It’s gonna be The War of the Roses for RMNB. Sorry, sorry– too nerdy. I mean, it’s gonna be like Game of Thrones for RMNB.

Russia 5, Slovenia 2

Anton Belov's understated celebration (@myregularface)

Anton Belov’s understated celebration (GIF by @myregularface)

Fittingly, Alex Ovechkin scored the game’s first goal, cruising up the left wing and releasing from the Ovi Spot(TM). That was the right way to start, and it seemed for a moment like Russia had a big game in them once Evgeni Malkin doubled up. Except the Slovenians didn’t lie down. Ziga Jeglic put a pair of goals on a pretty weak Russian defense to make this way more interesting than the host country wanted. The second period was unbearably tight– with most of the action happening in neutral– but the Russians got back on track in the third with goals by Nichushkin and Belov.

Still, this shouldn’t have been a contest. Slovenia has just two players in the NHL and KHL. It’s Anze Kopitar, Jan Mursak, and a bunch of other dudes. One of those other dudes, Ziga Jeglic, had a big game, but they still shouldn’t have been able to threaten the Russians. And with the Americans running up the score in this preliminary round, Russia might have some goal-differential envy.

At least Ovi got a goal and an assist, locked down his spot on the left side of the power play, and looked pretty jolly in Russian red. Dimitri at NHL Numbers has a good write-up on the game and a scoring-chances tally. The rest of the team… I’m not so sure. Pavel Datsyuk is clearly playing through his knee injury, and he’s not doing it particularly well despite some great puck-moving chemistry with Ilya Kovalchuk during power plays. Valeri Nichushkin was excellent (on offense at least), and his crash-the-net goal was the best of the day.

But overall, Russia doesn’t look like a gold-medal team. At least not yet.

Canada 3, Norway 1

Canada

Canada

The Canada game was on the USA channel. It was called by a broadcast team consisting entirely of Americans and one reptile-humanoid hybrid. Very confusing for me, but at least we still had crazy old Canadian Hockey Twitter to keep us company.

Canada looked surprisingly un-best-team-ever-assembled-y in the first period, outshooting Norway 9 to 8 and outscoring them not at all. Canada Twitter’s freakout ended in the second period as Shea Weber and Jamie Benn scored and the team looked exactly as dominant as they were supposed to look. Norway got just two shots in the second period: a first one, and then a little later, a second one, and that was it.

Norway got a Norgoal on a powerplay early in the third, but Drew Doughty played inhumanly to neutralize it with one of his own. In the end it was a decisive but modest 3-1 win for the team that was expected to wallop by a touchdown or more. That doesn’t mean that Canada isn’t bound for the podium, they are, but I still bet we’re gonna hear some panicky chatter from north of the border later today.


Assorted Olympic thoughts:

I’m working from home today, idly watching some mens figure skating while I type up some validation reports. Those dudes are robust. Radical thought, and tell me if I’m wrong here: the toughness-weakness spectrum is not the same thing as the masculine-feminine spectrum.

Word has it that Sweden’s Henrik Zetterberg missed the team photo and practice. He’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury, which is bad news if your tournament is only a few days long. That’s a rough break for my gold-medal pick, but it could be fortuitous for Marcus Johansson, who was scratched from Sweden’s win over the Czechs.

Saturday morning is the Russia-America game, definitely the most important match of the preliminary round. I’m guessing Ryan Miller vs Semyon Varlamov in net, but Dan Bylsma isn’t telling just yet. This game is primed to start a full-on riot among RMNB staff and readers. I plant myself firmly on Team America, whereas some others–who shall go unnamed–  are traitors. Let’s try to keep it civil. Screw those guys.

CORRECTION, 3PM: I had Milan “Juice” Jurcina on Slovakia instead of Slovenia. I am shamed. Mursak is the Slovak KHLer. Thanks to Chris for the correctitude.

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  • GetchaGrubbOn

    I worry that this lights a fire under Canada. It was a pretty humbling game for them and I think they’ll only work harder and learn from it. I think I would have prefered them winning in a landslide over this.

  • Shawn Murphy

    Peter has been rigorously devoted in his downvoting of anything remotely anti-US. #Donatelloesque
    Saturday is going to be like a WWE event for rmnb. FRIENDSHIPS WILL BE ENDED, SIDES WILL BE PICKED, AND ONE MAN WILL BE THROWN ONTO A COLLAPSABLE DESK

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    not sure if anti-american or not

    getting an upvote tenatively

  • Jaime

    Speaking of Game of Thrones, did anyone else catch the organist playing the Game of Thrones theme song during U.S. vs Slovakia? I thought it really added to the game.

  • ATPinDC

    “It’s gonna be The War of the Roses for RMNB. Sorry, sorry– too nerdy.”

    For your crowd? Not hardly! Especially not with The White Queen airing recently. :)

    USA was awesome. May that continue.

    Screw Canada. Norway’s goalie was awesome.

    I’m glad Russia seemed to get it back together in the 3rd a bit.

    Finally, Carly and the Captain looked awesome. Go Olympic Caps! :D

  • Bryan Egan

    I loved the goal by Carlson. Halak had no shot at it.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I did! Loved it. I worry that it presages Russia violating guest right later on in the tourney. The international players ate their salt and bread and MUST NOT BE HARMED.

  • Bryan Egan

    Does drinking Sochi water qualify as violating guest rights?

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    I would love to cut a promo on Peter. Something like this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMoN8JL-6js

  • Shawn Murphy

    SCREW CANADA

  • Michael Reschly

    Are there regulations regarding the names on the back of olympic jerseys? I was surprised to see ‘Ovechkin’ and not ‘Овечкин’ on the back of Ovi’s jersey.

  • http://twitter.com/1bscarbro Benjamin Scarbro

    SCREW CANADA

  • Jaime

    Why? Did someone back out of an agreement to marry one of Putin’s daughters? They should have known there would be consequences.

  • Igor Kleyner

    No idea why Peter continues to claim the sole possession of the RMNB’s USA bandwagon – I am supporting Stars and Stripes as well, even though I have a bit of a problem cheering for a team featuring Callahan AND Orprick! But hey, I’ve been voting in every election since 1996, so rooting for someone while holding my nose is nothing new for me.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I think IIHF stipulates using the latin alphabet. Fedor would know better.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I claim no such thing! I think both you and Fedor are rooting for the Americans (or at least Feds was for WJC). Ian is the only betrayer here.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    screw canada?

  • Igor Kleyner

    That’s a norm in every international competition, including Olympics. Not limited to hockey.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I can do a good Ric Flair lisp.

    THISCH SCHUNDAY AT SCHUMMERSCHLAM I WILL SCHETTLE THE SCHCORE WITH SCHTONE COLD SCHTEVE AUSCHTIN

  • Igor Kleyner

    Well then we should have no problem ganging up on the traitor and taking him down!

  • Chris Cerullo

    Jurcina is Solvakian. Jan Mursak is the KHL player on Slovenia.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    that’s what I get for watching two games at once! will correct

  • Chris Cerullo

    I only know this because I literally just finished watching the Russia game in its entirety haha

  • Igor Kleyner

    I don’t even understand how anybody can possibly root for any team other than your country! If you are from India or Bahamas – fine, jump on any bandwagon you feel like, that’s what people from non-soccer-playing countries do for example, but if you are from Ecuador or say England – sorry, but this summer you are not rooting for Argentina, no matter how much you love Messi!

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    le screw canada, eh?

  • Steve

    Screw Canada.

  • Shawn Murphy

    wooooOOOOOOO

  • Freedoooom

    Russia started off good, then kinda got sloppy with the help of the ice.

    Plenty of times throughout the game you would see a untouched pass bouncing. Ovechkin gave up a few shots trying to pass… Overall though on the PP he only had one good chance to one time it. Gotta work on that.

  • Lawrence

    As much I would love U.S. to win gold, I still can’t root for them against ovechkin. I could tell myself to root for U.S. to be patriotic all I want, but in the end the emotions always win out. Lets do this thing ovi! Russia for gold, U.S. for silver! Canada for no medal!

  • donatelife

    I’m rooting for Ovi, Varley, and even Semin….

    Even against the USA

  • donatelife

    Igor, my family is Russian…..doesn’t that count a little?

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    ahh got it

  • brian!

    I thought I read somewhere that Quick had been named starter…

  • Jake Ettawakapow

    As much I would love Canada to win gold, I also can’t root for them against ovechkin, I just don’t want Crosby having 2 Olympic Gold Medals. Go Russia! Shh…don’t tell anyone ;)

  • Mike Honcho

    That’s the tough part, it’s really a three way battle between how much I want to see Ovi haters humbled, Ovi playing so sick)))), caps getting a bump, vs the Stars and Stripes winning gold. Kind of a toss up, but the us will probably pull it out barely for me. As long Cindy is a loser.

    Also Gino feeding ovie is scary good. Great first day for caps fans.

  • Diller M

    So if anyone finds out do Mounties show up at your door? Will you be beaten by mullet clad, hairy armed hockey stick wielding chicks? Or will they just fill your car with Tim Horton’s bear claws?

  • Diller M

    Don’t you think you could say the same for Russia?

  • Shaun Phillips

    Correction for your correction in the article above, Mursak is KHL, not NHL (Chris has it right here). He only played a couple games with the Red Wings during the past few seasons (most of the time with the Griffins) before telling them to f-off after last season and jumped to the KHL. Too bad, I think he would’ve had a roster spot with the team this year and actually been a solid NHLer.

  • Semin28

    “Looks like we’re seeing all-star ice time policies in this tournament–
    regardless of the stakes or the talent differential on these teams.” – that is just plain wrong. Once the game is out of hand why run him down? It’s a fast turn around – preserve him for the next game. The only thing guiding the coaches ice time and player decision is what is best for the team. If you think it’s anything else then you don’t understand the type of competitive nature these guys have at this level. Same reason you dont leave your #1 goalie in the game when its 4-0. Sure sometimes you’re trying to bring a spark but usually your protecting your assets.

  • Chris Cerullo

    He corrected it right

  • OVECHKING

    I hope Oates is watching these games. Clearly evident that guys are being used in their wrong positions on the caps. Ovechkin is a more explosive player coming down the left wing than he is on the right wing. He also scores more goals from the left side at even strength. Anyone who has played hockey before knows that The shot he put down on Christian is something you simply cannot do without a large amount of luck. Shooting across your body to the top left corner is extremely difficult.

    Onto carlson, 1 game and you can see that Baylsma and the rest of the American coaching staff know what situations are best for Carlson and where he can thrive the most. CalleJo is horrible.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I too hope Adam Oates changes everything he has organized based on 12 minutes of play against the worst team in the tournament.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Not as of last I checked. He named Quick starter for game one,but they’ve all said it doesn’t mean anything for the future.

  • Graham Dumas

    Uh, Канаду на-х** бл***!

  • OVECHKING

    Yea, sorry my mistake, considering what Oates has “organized” this entire season has resulted in the caps being Stanley cup contenders. I hope when Ovechkin comes back from this tournament, Oates tries him in the net.

  • OVECHKING

    Peter Hassett, here are some cold hard facts.. I’m sure you’ll love them.

    http://www.sportingcharts.com/nhl/icetrack/?r1Id=268143&r1Year=2013&r1eventType=%27GOAL%27&r1type=1&r1strength=EV#1

    Ovechkin is a more explosive player from the left wing at even strength. Always has been and always will be. Fact,

    This is true while playing RW under oates “rejuvenation plan” which is extremely overrated and just a ploy by local media types to distract people away from oates terrible coaching.

    But I guess people only believe what they want to see. “changes everything he has organized based on 12 minutes of play against the worst team in the tournament.” What a narrow minded response which is a large deviation from the intent of my comment. Like somehow this was the first time Ovechkin was playing left wing in his career or the first time Carlson was playing a complete 3 zone game (refer to calrson under hunter hockey).

  • Tyler

    i fucking LOLed at the canada pic, nice job

  • Roman Z.

    Not cool :(

  • Shaun Phillips

    In the “Correction” text, not in the article itself. :)

    “CORRECTION, 3PM: I had Milan “Juice” Jurcina on Slovakia instead of Slovenia. I am shamed. Mursak is the Slovak NHLer. Thanks to Chris for the correctitude.”

    Says NHL, not KHL.

  • Graham Dumas

    Sorry, man. Olympics: take no prisoners! After the 23rd I’ll go back to romanticizing about your new homeland.

  • Chris Cerullo

    Oh you’re right. It should say “CORRECTION, 3PM: I had Milan “Juice” Jurcina on Slovakia instead of Slovenia. I am shamed. Mursak is the Slovenian KHLer. Thanks to Chris for the correctitude.

  • Roman Z.

    -5 curfew-skipping Radulovs for you!

  • Graham Dumas

    Ugh, fine! But can I still keep the six maids-a-milking?

  • Roman Z.

    No, you get 3 snowfall-scared Americans.

  • Graham Dumas

    Bwahaha. PANIC-BUYING MILK! OMG ICE!!!!