Sunday, February 28, 2010

2nd Place Isn't Losing, It's Just Victory with a Small V

The game: US. vs. Canada gold medal game.

Final score: Canada 3, US 2, in overtime.

Why I chose it: Oh please. Even non-hockey fans were watching this one.

Best play/mais oui: Once and future wonder boy Sidney Crosby, after being famously spurned from the 2006 Olympic team, scoring the game winning goal in overtime. With a nice little assist from Jarome Iginla, who passed the puck as he was falling down.

Second best plays: Zach Parise with the game-tying goal and pretty much anything Ryan Miller did throughout this game and this whole Olympics.

Silver is not losing: 30 years after the still legendary US. vs. Russia game, the country could smell gold again. But let's not forget that Canada was the favorite here. And Slovakia wasn't expected to get anywhere near the medal round. But they showed us all that it was anyone's game, right until the final goal. To those who think the United States "lost" today, talk to the hand. In a better late than never act of generosity, NBC broadcast the game live, we got a medal and we got a nail-biting, don't answer the phone, stop whatever you are doing, stone cold awesome hockey game. Be happy fellow's a good day for hockey, no matter what team you rooted for.

As for the whole will they or won't they let the NHL go to Sochi in 2014: Note to Gary Bettman: 1) True hockey fans will get up or stay up until unholy hours of the morning to watch live hockey. If they are playing and we can keep our eyelids open, we're in. 2) Today's game was a rare live broadcast and was a matter of national pride for both teams. It's very likely that thanks to the Olympics, the NHL just picked up at least a few thousand new fans.

Speaking of fans: Right here in Portland, we are awaiting word on the return of our own little piece of Olympic history, Luca Sbisa. And we couldn't care less if he won a medal. We have a real Olympian and NHL player on our ice who went, played and did so honorably. And tonight, our ceremonial puck in the Prince George game is being dropped by former Winterhawk Cam Neely. Ooohh, and we're in the playoffs, we have a US World Junior Champion in our lineup (who scored the game winner last night in Seattle, thank you very much), a WHL player of the month, a two-time CHL goaltender of the week, four NHL prospects, two players already drafted into the NHL and a break out star from Switzerland. GAME ON.

But wait, the Portland Winterhawks didn't go home empty handed: Former Winterhawk Brenden Morrow played for Canada and Memorial Cup champions Marcel and Marian Hossa came pretty darn close.

If you don't live in a town with NHL, AHL, college or junior league hockey: Move to one. Today, if possible.

Never mind the rule, I'll get to that tomorrow: For now, wherever you are, remember this: just five years after emerging from the NHL lockout, hockey is back. With a capital B. Enjoy the ride.

Next up: I'll get back on track tomorrow as the NHL resumes play and I take a look at the rule that explains why all those boys in the World Juniors were wearing full face gear. Stay tuned.

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