KSTZ2Hc

From /r/hockey

Unlike this morning, Wednesday afternoon’s games went as planned. Well, almost. There was that whole thing where Latvia, led by inhuman goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis, scared the living hell out of Canadian Hockey Twitter for 55 minutes of rego hockey. But the US put away the Czechs with a strong, evenly distributed scoring effort, and that was pretty cool.

The wins by America and America’s stupid hat set up a rematch of the 2010 Vancouver finals for Friday at noon. It’s going to be absolutely unbearable; I need you to start rationing your anti-anxiety drugs now.

But first: let’s delve into the recap.

Canada 2, Latvia 1

Let’s get this out of the way first: Canada has scored 13 goals on 168 shots. That’s a sub-par 7.7%% shooting percentage. That’s definitely below where they want to be, and it’s absolutely below the shooting talent of that roster. We know these things. What we don’t know is how the Canadians could “shoot better” or if they can do it in their next two games. If teams could reliably improve shooting percentages, they’d all be doing it always. But they haven’t, so we’re still stuck in a blender of hot goalies and slumping shooters.

Enter Kristers Gudlevskis, hot goalie and the undisputed star of the day. Gudlevskis stopped 55 of 57 shots on Wednesday, a 96.49% save percentage in a losing effort, a ridiculous shot total by the Canadians. Out of 880 games in the NHL system for this year, I see two that had that many shots: a shutout by the Oilers over the Sharks, and a 65-minute barnburner between the Senators and the Islanders. Gudlevskis did a remarkable thing. And though goalies can get hot without it meaning much, I gotta think Steve Yzerman is gonna extend Gudlevskis’ contract in Tampa on the basis of this game alone. I bet we’ll see him in the bigs before long.

Breaking Canada’s scoring torpor was Shea Weber, though perhaps we should credit Jonathan Teows for taking that late swing on Gudlevskis on the sequence right before.

GIF by Pete Blackburn

Then there was the no-goal/no-whistle earlier on. The Canadians were liable to stage their own version of Russia’s anti-ref protest after this one:

GIF by Steph

The puck got past Gudlevskis (that name, jeez, every time I have to check the spelling– I’m using this mnemonic: “god loves skiis?”), but a Latvian defender came up with a brilliant tactic to help out: cover the puck with his glove in the crease. You Can’t Do That. It should have been a penalty shot. It was not. The outrage on C.H.T. was palpable. The bezoar swelled.

Although Canada freaked out, they still pulled out the victory. They were, after all, the better team– even if they’re underperforming (though not as much as some people say). The question going forward is in two parts, and the second part is Shakespearean: 1) Who is gonna score? and  2) Wherefore art thou, Sidney Crosby?

USA 5, Czech Republic 2

Actually playing a good team today were the Americans, who did more of that depth scoring thing that has worked out so well for them so far. The US pulled out an early lead and held onto it throughout. I suspect that lead protection was the reason shots were so close (25 to 23), though I have seen otherwise smart people declare America a weak possession team that is winning due to high shooting percentages. The 20% they got on Wednesday certainly might draw some down that path, but I’m not so sure. I guess we’ll find out on Friday.

And to be fair, this win had more to do with Ondrej Pavelec in net than anything the Americans did. With some live bounces off the boards, the US feasted on unlikely shots that Pavelec couldn’t square to or chip shots that he was couldn’t face due to his pre-existing plans to lay belly-down on the ice like a beached whale.

Every goal looked like this (via Blackburn):

Bouncy boards, bad angle, nothing but net– except for when it banks off Ondrej’s pads or his skates or the storm cloud that follows him everywhere he goes.

Big ups to Oiler Ales Hemsky of the Czech Republic for getting two goals past Jonathan Quick, the second of which was a scary freaking skill shot. Without those two goals, this would’ve looked far more one-sided than it was. Despite all their flaws (age, goaltending, Jaromir Jagr), the CZE are a good team who played a good game. The question on my mind– another one that will be answered on Friday– is this: what does the US play like when they don’t have the lead and their opponent is better?


Just kidding. I don’t want to see what the US looks like when they don’t have the lead. Friday oughtta be one of those elimination-game blowouts where the outcome is in question only for a couple minutes.

When I say oughtta, I mean it in a subjunctive, this-is-how-the-world-should-be kind of way. Not in a predictive, I’m-not-actually-talking-out-my-rear-end-right-now way.  USA vs Canada is going to be the most intense hockey game we’ve seen since the last time we saw USA vs Canada playing in the Olympics.

I don’t want to talk about that game.

Instead, let’s discuss another match between two other teams. Those teams are USA and Canada– ladies edition. Quick: change all the uniforms to pink and put some condescending glitter and junk on it. The North American women make up two fantastic and fun-to-watch teams. They have dominated Sochi, and they’re set to meet on Thursday at noon. It’s going to be a bloodbath. I’m rooting for Amanda’s brother’s sister.

kessels

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  • themav80

    I was rooting for Latvia so hard. Stupid Weber. No offense to Canada, but the media meltdown would have been hilarious.

  • airbus1094

    If only Latvia had won . . .

  • Diller M

    My fav lines are America’s stupid hat and Amanda’s brother’s sister, both classic, thanks for that laugh!

  • Jeremy in Bethesda

    No offense to Canada? Let me tell you, today there was no offense from Canada either.

  • Jeremy Schooler

    Lets go the team that has Amanda’s brother Blake’s sister. Yes, there is a third Kessel.

  • RESmith

    So we know have as the semi-finals a rematch of the past two Olympic medal games. (Sweden-Finland in ’06, Canada-US in ’10)

    [And what is with all the hockey pundits acting so surprised about Finland? It's not like they have two Stanley Cup winning goaltenders on the roster or anything.]

  • themav80

    Haha, as I was typing that I was thinking the same thing.

  • Jeremy in Bethesda

    Which thought bubble for Ted Nolan is better?

    “What the hell is he saying?” (b/c he’s not Latvian and doesn’t know the language)
    OR
    “I wish the Sabres could play this well…”

  • RESmith

    “With some live bounces off the boards” -The US Women were on to that early into these Olympics: http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/fresh-take-usa-women-defeat-finland-3-1?ctx=nbc-experts-fresh-take (starting at 0:50 mark) Maybe the men took note.

  • Patrick Neimeyer

    The Team USA Vs. Canada matchup will be epic, almost borderline with Team USA Juniors Vs. Iceland.

  • RESmith

    “Holy Crap! Sandis Ozolinsh is still playing?!”

  • Spencer Zeitel

    Um Rask didn’t play when Boston won the cup…. :P

  • A_Shoe

    If I were a betting man, and the line was in favor of Russia, I’d have taken Finland to #thebank in a heartbeat.

  • RESmith

    Crap! I forgot about that. I hope the point isn’t lost though.

  • Graham Dumas

    …I would have run around my office screaming like an idiot. Just like Sidney Crosby. BOOM!

    http://imgur.com/jlYxh

  • Graham Dumas

    1972, yo. Holla back.

  • Sarah

    Sorry but I’m gonna be That Guy…if you want to say “where are you Sidney Crosby”, “wherefore art thou” is not the way to go about it. If you want to ask why he is Sidney Crosby, however, then you’re golden.

  • Shawn Murphy

    the truly sublime aspect of the #kesselbest hashtag is that it knows no gender bias. Amanda? Phil? internet-spawned sibling mashup horror creature? check, check and czech.
    KESSELBEST

  • Lawrence

    When the heck is the ladies game?? I can’t find the start time anywhere, what the heck!

  • yv

    12pm

  • yv

    A little thing can drastically change the outcome. I think Canada was saved by the fact that Latvian GT didn’t have water bottle in the net whole game. Just before the Weber’s goal he made another good save, 55th?, but after that he looked completely exhausted and dehydrated. He remained in the net and during next shift was not quick enough to cover right corner. Maybe it is International rule that not allowing bottles on top of the net, but USA GT should pay attention to this during semifinal. Fresh water for all!

  • Lawrence

    ty! <3

  • yv

    I see water bottle on top of Czech net and also Kovy hit it when he scored against Finns, so it is just simple overlook by inexperienced Latvians.

  • jbjlock26

    Gudlevskis looked exhausted and dehydrated in a shootout in Hershey about a month and a half ago. He stopped the puck though. Watching him more closely since then, he has more wacky mannerisms…maybe someone should ask him about his views on the universe!

  • Heidi

    If you are a student, unemployed, have long lunch breaks, or care more about hockey than your job, a viewing party (preferably near Ballston-ish) would be awesome!

  • Muskrat42

    Definitely not a rules expert (Olympic, NHL, or otherwise), but I didn’t see the Latvian defender “cover the puck” with his hand. He reached over and pushed it with his fingertips. He didn’t put his hand down on it to prevent it from being played. If a handpass in the crease is illegal that should have been called, but I wouldn’t call the penalty on the basis of covering the puck.

  • Jeremy in Bethesda

    aaaaaah yes. The team that went from representing team USA at a World Junior tournament to being a sucky JV team. Makes sense.

  • RT23

    She has a better plus-minus so according to the McSorley doctrine she’s a better player than her brother. Why isn’t she in the NHL?

  • Diller M

    McSorley, Millbury, Maguire, Roenick etc would all pick Amanda Kessel for their team over Ovi…

  • Robert Mattsson

    A finnish betting website had some proper odds for that game: 1,03 for CAN, 12,20 for x/OT and 22,00 for Latvia. I didn’t have the balls to bet on that game so I went safe and beted for FIN and USA and won some cash :)

  • Grant

    Clearly you are not.

  • Grant

    So what happened in the Women’s Gold Medal game? Waiting patiently for an update, thanks!

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

    http://i284.photobucket.com/albums/ll36/Bigsteve87/Gifs/Vomit.gif

    I was gonna recap it and then I realized I’m not physically able.

  • Muskrat42

    Seems like you know about the same as me or you would have answered. I looked up the rules. The penalty shot could have been awarded based on the “gathering” criteria. No covering of the puck req’d.

    “If a defending player, other than the goalkeeper, deliberately falls on, holds or gathers the puck into his body when the puck is in the goal crease of his team, the Referee shall award to the non-offending team a Penalty shot.”

  • Rhino40

    On closer inspection, it looks as if the Latvian defender tucked/poked the puck underneath Gudlevskis rather than covering it himself or closing his hand on it–either of which would quite rightly be a penalty shot. If this action could be assessed a PS, then (applying the same logic), one might also be expected a PS to be awarded for a d-man batting the puck out of the crease.