Now that we're into the semifinals of the Olympic hockey competition, some thoughts:
--Russia wasn't nearly the powerhouse everyone thought it was. (Easy to say that now, huh?) Sure, the Russians had phenomenal talents up top, but no depth. The NHL > KHL. And when those elite talents didn't show up, the team was lost. Russia was great in destroying hapless Latvia, but not too impressive otherwise. There seemed to be little to no chemistry.
--Brian Burke and Ron Wilson wish they could manage and coach Team USA all the time rather than run the Maple Leafs.
--The IIHF cares more about protecting its players than the NHL does. Witness Joni Pitkanen's major penalty, game misconduct and automatic one-game suspension after elbowing Sweden's Patric Hornqvist in the head. In the NHL, he probably gets nothing but a minor penalty, if that.
--Having said that, I'm pulling a 180 by saying the IIHF has some cheesy rules. If you lose your helmet, you have to retrieve it or leave the ice immediately. Imagine how Pavel Kubina feels, after he abandoned his defensive position to retrieve his lost lid (or abandon it to go to the bench per rule) only to have Finland score the first goal in their quarterfinal game seconds later by taking advantage of the vacated area.
--I sort of think the crease violation rule is a little iffy too, but at least the IIHF tries to protect the goalies. Nothing wrong with that I guess.
--Torn on no-touch icing. It'd cut down on potential injuries, but I've seen a number of plays recently where an offensive player would've gotten to the puck to cancel the icing and potentially lead to a scoring chance, but he never got the opportunity. Other than the injury limitation (which is good, don't get me wrong) I don't really see much of a benefit. But I wouldn't object to a switch. Not going to lobby for it either at the present time.
--Why couldn't the Czech Republic score goals? Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias, David Krejci, Martin Havlat, Tomas Kaberle, Tomas Plekanec, Tomas Fleischmann just to name a few... the Czechs had some quality NHL-level talent but couldn't put it together. They scored 10 goals in three preliminary round games, half coming against Latvia, the tournament's worst team, and needed overtime to beat that Latvia team later in a qualifying game. I like Milan Michalek, but he probably shouldn't be your best forward with names like those above.
--The scary thing about Canada's rout of Russia is we didn't hear a whole lot from Sidney Crosby, Joe Thornton or Jarome Iginla. Seven goals and that trio combined for a single assist.
--The Rick Nash legend grows. He, along with Shea Weber, was credited for shutting down Alex Ovechkin. Nash was already a stellar offensive talent, but apparently he can defend too. NHL teams take note: To shut down Ovechkin, make sure you get Nash and Weber on your team.
--Hell of a tournament from Switzerland. A team with a handful of NHL players, albeit good ones in Jonas Hiller and Mark Streit, and the Swiss put forth excellent outings in two games against the United States and a near-upset of Canada. Not a team to be trifled with. I sort of got a Miracle on Ice vibe from them, a team that wasn't as talented as others but got great goaltending and tremendous workmanlike efforts to hang with the big boys. They just didn't get their miracle.
--Doc Emrick is the best announcer ever. He should just be locked up in a booth somewhere and be forced to announce every hockey game. I think he'd be on board with the idea. It has to be better than watching the Devils play 30 times a season.
--Jeremy Roenick and Mike Milbury on the same set. Really? That's who you want analyzing Olympic hockey? A guy who once said the fans can kiss his ass and a knucklehead who went into the stands to fight fans once? Were Bob Probert and Dave Schultz unavailable? Roenick was a very good player and often provided colorful quotes, but he and Milbury are cut a little too much from the same cloth. I guess we count our blessings that Brian Engblom isn't involved.
--Three more games and the NHL can breathe a sigh of relief if no significant injuries occur. To an NHL-salaried player, anyway.
--Olympic hockey is fun.
--Now that I think about it, putting Probert and Schultz in the same rant with Milbury is probably insulting to Bob and Dave, so sorry guys. I take it back.
--How desirable is a USA-Canada rematch in the gold medal game?
--Not too much for Americans, I bet. Should that happen, what are the odds Ryan Miller pulls off a repeat performance? Then the Canadians can brag and say, "Ha, nice win a couple games ago when it didn't mean anything."
--I saw this note somewhere: Only twice has the host country won gold in men's ice hockey: 1960 and 1980.
With that, I bid you adieu. Until next time.