Ovi does duck lips like an Instagram selfie. #girlsweekend #seacrets #lovemylittle (Photo: RIA Novosti)
No stupid stat snapshot today, so all you nerds can go play D&D.
Sunday’s hockey schedule didn’t stand a chance of matching yesterday’s operatic levels of excitement. The USA’s Phil-acrity was too much for an inspiring and inspired Slovenian crew. Russia squeaked a win out of a really deflated effort against Slovakia. The Finns nearly exsanguinated the Canadian offense, but couldn’t get the win. And I didn’t even know Austria and Norway were playing.
With these games in the books, we now look towards the next round. Prepare for seedings, brackets, elimination games, and the pressure getting amped up to UNHEALTHY.
But first, let’s do the recap.
Austria 3, Norway 1
[Perd Hapley voice] The story of this game is that it happened. The winning team won by scoring more goals than the losing team, who did not score as many.
Russia 1, Slovakia 0
The home team is not going to be happy about this win. The high-octane Russian offense was unable to score and actually got outshot by a plucky Slovak crew. While Alex Ovechkin got six more shots on goal, the Russian power play seemed unwilling or unable to use him at his most effective. Most of the PP action happened among Datsyuk, Radulov, and Kovalchuk (and sometimes Malkin, who wasn’t used on every PP) on the far side of the ice. That seems wasteful.
There were a couple bad beats– Alex Radulov ringing the crossbar for one– but this was mostly a snoozer. Ovi did get one terrific scoring chance in overtime.
Radulov and Kovalchuk scored in the shootout and Semyon Varlamov shut down all comers to get the win. A miserable win, but a win nonetheless. The Russians won’t get a bye– so they’ll be playing an elimination match on Tuesday,
likely against Latvia or Norway.
If you’re looking for some hockey drama to talk about, Russia is your target. Where’s the electric offense? Malkin and Ovechkin are putting the shots up, but they’re not going in (at least in the last two games). The Russian depth doesn’t seem to be reliably driving play– the 36-to-27 shot differential being damning evidence of this.
We’ll take a look at brackets later, but it looks like Russia, Finland, and Canada are on a collision course.
USA 5, Slovenia 1
Amanda’s brother is still amazing, using a combination of speed and stick-work to record a hat trick. Look at this one– his second of the day– and maybe the best-looking goal of these Olympics.
Pavelski takes the puck below the goal line, then sauces it back to Phil. The puck never touches the ice. Lacrosse style.
Both Doc Emrick and I seem to be suffering the same confusion between TJ Oshie (74) and John Carlson (4, née 74). They shared the ice for a shift in the second period and, according to Doc, merged into a single entity capable of “knifing” and “finessing” the puck from the blue line. The jersey number and uniform differences between the NHL and the Olympics really is a tough adjustment for me. Usually I can spot Ovi just by his mustard yellow (not gold!) laces, but some other dudes are rocking those as well. When I’m streaming to a laptop monitor, it’s even harder.
The Slovenes, who were playing just their third Olympic game ever, got a late goal to spoil Ryan Miller‘s shutout and good hair day. By the way, the Sabres have given Ryan Miller this level of goal support just once time this season– against the Blue Jackets at the end of January.
So thanks to a pair of blowouts, the Americans have the best goal differential in the tournament, but because they couldn’t beat Russia in rego, they’re not gonna get a top seed. They still get a bye, however, so… shots vodka tonight?
Canada 2, Finland 1
Well, that was a disappointment. The Finns defused the Canadian offense, keeping them to one goal through rego, but fell nonetheless in overtime. Drew Doughty and his stupid face scored twice– once on a powerplay masterfully manufactured by Sidney Crosby and again with the OTGWG. The Canadians might be freaking out over their inability to score, though I don’t think we should read much into it. The Canadiens almost doubled up the Finns in shot volume, and they certainly had Tuukka Rask working the whole time. So while there might be no substance to it, let’s all enjoy the next few days of panic from north of the border.
It could’ve gone another way. The Canadiens lost a goal on a weird technicality. The puck landed on the top of Rask’s net, getting knocked off indirectly by a high stick. This created a conflict of IIHF rulebook originalism and partisan allegiance that might remind one of Bush v Gore. By the letter of the law– you know what… I have no idea. That shouldn’t be a goal and it’s not a goal. Refs should have a catch-all excuse for penalties and suspensions and no-goals that we can just call, “You Can’t Do That.” No, you cannot put the puck on the back of the net, and then hit the net and hope it falls off a Finnish goalie’s back into the net.
All in all, a pretty disappointing prelim round for the favorites. Deliiiiiiightful.
So it looks like the Russians and the Americans will be on opposite sides of the brackets. They wouldn’t be able to play one another until the finals. Meanwhile, barring a huge upset, Canada and the US are going to meet on Friday. From where I stand, the Swedes look like they’ve got a jaunty waltz on their way to the medal round.
I’m trying to advance a new thing where we call regulation time “rego.” Like this: The Washington Capitals have only 15 rego wins this season. Based on twitter feedback, “rego” is not off to a great start.
@russianmachine rego doesn't work
— Michael Shry (@red_beanz) February 16, 2014
— Ray in Bowie (@Fools_RushL_in) February 16, 2014
@russianmachine Stop trying to make "fetch" happen
— Ben Bruno (@bcubed86) February 16, 2014
Stop trying to make rego a thing, its not gonna happen @russianmachine: Russia and Slovakia are 0-0 are the end of rego.
— Brian Moscoe (@rovingbandit21) February 16, 2014
But one guy liked it.
Not much happening in #rego for the Russians in the last 24 hours
— EricO_703 (@EricO_703) February 16, 2014
So I’m gonna keep using it until you threaten to unfollow or stop reading.
Everything changes next week. Plus, the women’s final approaches. That is gonna be so much fun. Or nauseating. Possibly both.