Vancouver 2010: Pucks Drop Today

13 02 2010

(Updated after the jump.)

At long last, Olympic hockey starts straight away.

Today’s matches:

(Women) Sweden vs Switzerland
(Women) Canada vs Slovakia

If you haven’t had a look at Team Canada yet, now is a good time to scope them out. Team USA has played some competitive games against them during the pre-Olympic tune-ups, and while I am pulling for USA to take the gold, Canada is looking incredibly tough.

More information may be found at the official Vancouver 2010 site or by checking your local TV listings. Both matches are live on CNBC (standard definition channel) today locally.

Update 2/13/2010: My reaction as I told a friend over IM that Canada scored 3 goals in the first 5+ minutes:

I think Slovakia will scrap their women’s hockey program after 7:30pm CT

write women out of the constitution by 8pm

burqas by 9pm

7-0 Canada after one. Your move, Team USA.

Update II (same day): 18-0 Canada, final. Single-player goal record broken with 4, most goals in a game record broken (formerly 14).

Despite the soul-crushing rout I am giving major props to the (US TV) announcers for finding the silver lining for Slovakia, and to that point I am singling out Slovakian goalie Zuzana Tomcikova as my hero of the game.

Wait, what? What part of 18-0 am I not taking into consideration?

Well, as the announcers rightly pointed out, it’s incredibly demoralizing to lose 9-0, let alone 18-0. I was waiting for some sort of slaughter rule to take effect and it never did. I learned after the game that this game featured the largest crowd that Slovakia had ever played for (19000+), and it’s the freakin’ Olympics, man.

So knowing all of this, Tomcikova showed incredible poise and resolve to do her level best in goal even though Canada scored almost at will. Almost at will. Tomcikova made saves that I’d be thrilled to see Marty Turco or Alex Auld make on those days when the Stars are losing the goal battle. The thing is, the Stars don’t face the NHL All-Stars every game. Team Canada is so deep that right now in the wake of this statement game of theirs, I hope that USA made the right roster moves, really.

Slovakia couldn’t even get shots off during a power play. Canada (relative to Slovakia, for absolute sure) is too dominant to be fazed by being short-handed against a lower-ranked opponent.

So I don’t lay the loss at the skates of the goalie. Other teammates were on the ice and Slovakia wouldn’t have fared much better 6 on 3 with an empty net.

While I hoped that Canada would have used their comfortable lead to focus on other areas of their play such as maintaining possession of the puck for extended periods of time – I am thinking that could be a useful game plan further into the tournament – Slovakia too did their level best to make it a learning experience. As for the goalie, she got a ridiculous number of opportunities to practice defending a rapid-fire, aggressive attack.

So, yeah. Your move, Team USA. I wonder how well Team China is sleeping tonight.

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