Embarrassment

Not pictured: Effort.

Not pictured: Effort.

“I’m not proud at all right now. I don’t think anyone is. We were playing for a medal and didn’t show up.”

- Max Pacioretty

That says more than we ever could.

A deserved defeat of their own devising

Bew hew hew!

Bew hew hew!

As soon as Canada went up 1-0, anyone watching could tell the game was over. It was only 21:41 into the game, of course, but the precedent had been set pretty early. Canada was allowing exactly zero people to get through to Carey Price in their net, and the few shots the US was able to get through to actually trouble him were handled fairly easily.

But the lack of incision by the US forwards all day, the lack of menace by the defense, and the fact that Jonathan Quick had to be excellent to only give up one in the losing effort could have all been easily avoided had the Americans been their best selves. Sure, they piled up the goals this tournament and entered this semifinal against their archrivals as the scoringest team in these Sochi games. They did it by pummeling all the Slov- countries and then drawing Ondrej Pavelec on the second day of a back-to-back. This was a one-line team almost from the start, except for some spells here and there when it was not, and Phil Kessel and Co. were effective but not overwhelming in today’s game. The rest of the team, including the so-called Meat Line, was simply butchered by the Canadian forwards and defense for 60 full minutes.

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This is why you never start Ondrej Pavelec

Keep on rollin'.

Keep on rollin’.

The thinking behind giving Ondrej Pavelec the second consecutive start on a back-to-back against the Mighty United States was one that any human being with even a passing understanding of how water freezes into the ice on which a hockey game is played could have told you was questionable at the very best.

Then Pavelec proved every one of his doubters ever 100 percent correct. Four goals against, in just 29 minutes and change, each more hilarious than the last, and the game already belonged to the ages.

The U.S. advances to the semifinals, as predictably as can be. Thank you to all the goalscorers. There’s nothing left to say about this one. See you Friday for a big W against Canada.

Eat it, Putin

Mr. Bobrovsky, we tore down this wall!

Mr. Bobrovsky, we tore down this wall!

So that was pretty great.

Of course, any time the US wins is pretty great, but beating Russia, in Russia, with their shockingly-beshirted homophobe piece of garbage president Vladimir Putin watching, in a thrilling game that required not only overtime but eight rounds of a shootout, is even better.

The game was played so evenly for pretty much its entirety that it was easy to forget that Russia’s team is bad and America’s is great, especially because Pavel Datsyuk was doing all in his power to carve up the US defenses at any opportunity. He ended up scoring both of Russia’s goals, one on a partial break — in which he abused all three of Brooks Orpik (who just got eaten up by the speed), John Carlson (who put himself out of position and never recovered), and Max Pacioretty (whose backcheck was so soft it was mistaken for a Russian third-line forward) — and the other on a power play goal facilitated by an idiotic kneeing penalty by Dustin Brown and a beauteous screen by Alex Radulov, who seems to have put on so much weight playing in the KHL that the US penalty killers would have needed a John Deere to move him from the front of the crease, if they’d tried, which they didn’t.

Of course, Radulov had a far greater hand in the proceedings than just making that game-tying marker happen: He also committed two predictably dumbassed penalties that led to both American power play goals. Radulov is nothing if not an enthusiast for being a guy lazy commentators can hold up as the towering example of The Russian Stereotype being 100 percent true. It’s as though he delights in it. The only way he could have become more of a parody of the genre is if he’d also lazily backchecked on Oshie’s shootout game-winner.

That’s all, by the way, to say nothing of the beautiful work to set up both American goals. James van Riemsdyk’s work at the top of the crease to move the puck over to Cam Fowler was just magnificent, as was the bullet Phil Kessel put toward the net to make it all happen. (Kessel, by the way, has been revelatory through 125 minutes of Olympic hockey.) Then there was the Patrick Kane pass to set up Joe Pavelski’s goal, which came with a skill threshold so high and shining it was briefly mistaken for the Olympic torch.

And in the end the game came down to Oshie and Quick, who personally battled through six and eight rounds of the shootout, respectively, to secure this glorious W and cap a fitting end to the game that deserved to go America’s way if only because everything does. Quick repeatedly repelled the bids of Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk, who were presumably chosen to go so often because of their outright and tacit support of Russia’s disgusting anti-gay laws, and when the dust settled Oshie had scored on four of his six attempts. He did, however, leave Sergei Bobrovsky guessing on the full half dozen.

So now it looks for all the world as though the US is going to win its group, as a wholly unintimidating matchup with Slovenia looms (is that the right word here? Can harmless things loom? Like, say, can a mylar balloon for a toddler’s birthday loom? If so, the game with Slovenia looms. If not, it’s just next I guess).

When do the Olympics start?

"Can you believe we actually had to play these guys?"

“Can you believe we actually had to play these guys?”

In their final warmup game before the Olympics officially begin, the United States of America easily dispatched by a score of 7-1 an Albuquerque, New Mexico, high school junior varsity team that was chosen at random to play against some of the greatest talent in the wo…

What’s that? This was an Olympic game? Okay, well anyway, this was an Olympic game so it’s nice to see the Americans pad their goal differential against anyone, even if the opponents in question were a bunch of malnourished childr…

When you say, “This score came against a team with actual NHL players on it,” what do you mean by that? Chara? ZDENO Chara? Well that just seems like it can’t be right. Teams with Zdeno Chara on them don’t give up seven goals, I don’t care who else is on the rost…

Well no, you have to be wrong about that; how is Branko Radivojevic still alive? And what are you talking about when you say they only gave Chara 18 minutes? These are things that cannot possibly be true. You know what, buddy, I’m going to go check the box score and show y…

Oh my god you’re right. Well anyway the U.S. got two goals from Paul Stastny, and one each from John Carlson, Ryan Kesler, David Backes, Phil Kessel, and Dustin Brown. Jonathan Quick sleepwalked his way to 22 saves on 23 shots. This doesn’t feel as fun as it should.

Canada 3*, USA 2

That's where the puck was when the whistle blew. (from @WorldofIsaac)

That’s where the puck was when the whistle blew. (from @WorldofIsaac)

You might have noticed that to this point we have not posted about the United States and their dominant start to the 2014 Olympics, and the reason for this is that as far as we were concerned the 2014 Olympics only started this morning, following a pair of easy exhibition wins against the students at some 1970s Soviet boarding schools.

United States/Canada is the only matchup that matters in women’s hockey, and for all the evidence you need of this being the case, the supposedly-decent host Russians barely beat Japan yesterday. So we know full well just how bad the rest of the world is.

In fact, the rest of the world is so bad that even mighty Canada needed some nonsense officiating to pick up a quote-unquote win in this one that will, in essence, have to play Finland, which it already throttled, in the semifinals. Violent thug Hayley Wickenheiser “scored” the game-”winner” early in the third period on a goal that trickled across the goal line only about one second after the whistle blew. Which, as we learned in the 2013 World Juniors, is a perfectly acceptable way for Canada to score goals against the United States in international competition. The refs then reviewed the call, which it should be noted is not reviewable by IIHF rules because it involved a whistle stopping play, and then still got it wrong. Classic stuff, there.

The Canadians did their best to play anti-hockey for the remainder of the game, holding the U.S. without a shot for the vast majority of the third period by putting six and occasionally seven players in the neutral zone. It was only on the third of these most blatant violations that the officials finally hit them with a too many men call. Canada scored again, on a breakaway because the U.S. was being overly aggressive in trying to get the tying goal they shouldn’t have actually needed, to make it 3-1, and America pulled back within one on an extra-attacker goal that ended up not mattering.

(And remember, all Canadians right now are acting as though this was all on the up-and-up, but if the U.S. had scored in the way noted cheater Wickenheiser did — which it never will because the next IIHF screwup to go Americans’ way will be the first in recorded history — tomorrow’s National Post would be filled with thinkpieces about the necessity for greater quality in women’s hockey officials worldwide. Bet a toonie on that.)

Oh well. This, like every contest that isn’t the gold medal game between the U.S. and Canada, doesn’t matter at all. And no amount of corrupt officiating can change that.

Canada “beats” U.S. *wink*

Look at this lil guy tryin so hard. Adorable.

Look at this adorable lil guy tryin so hard.

If anything, this was a little too sloppily-executed for our liking.

The US clearly went into this game with the plan being, “Just let these poor illiterate kids see what it’s like to beat a real team,” like when college football teams let 7-year-olds with terminal illnesses rush for a touchdown and get carried off the field. But this just wasn’t good enough from the Red, White, and Blue.

When you allow someone win, you’re supposed to make it look natural, but Connor Carrick ruined any suspension of disbelief the average non-Canadian viewer might have had when he didn’t score on a late breakaway. I mean, did you see the goals Zach Fucale gave up today? That’s the kind of goaltending Canada typically deals with, not these spectacular toe saves. The plan, as relayed to us by our loyal operatives, was to make it appear as though he hit a rut and let the puck glide lazily into Fucale’s pads. People would buy that a netminder as low-functioning as him could stop a roller going five miles an hour. That toe save though? We’d believe Jon Gillies could do it, sure, but not Fucale. In fact, not any Canadian.

It’s like the scenes in early Godzilla movies in which you can see it’s just a guy in a cheap costume. Takes you out of your viewing experience and makes you think, “Oh right, this is all fake.”

The IIHF’s officials dutifully played their part as well, whistling the U.S. for three “penalties” in the third period, but they too messed up in not calling Canada for any. Again, this is all wink-nudge stuff, but it’s possible that even some of those Canadian kids can’t be dumb enough to think this went as well for them as the final scoreline would appear. The U.S. power play entered the game lethal at nearly 60 percent, but went 0-fer today. Yeah, okay, sure. The U.S. had taken the fewest penalties in the tournament through three games, then gives Canada five power plays?

All in all, just bad form from the Americans today. It’s like they weren’t even trying to make this believable. Canadians actually seem to think they earned it. Those poor, dumb sons of bitches.

Eight-nein

The rare German save in its unnatural habitat.

The rare German save in its unnatural habitat.

There’s not a whole lot to say about a game that the scoreline doesn’t scream already. This game was 8-0 and it could have been worse. Period.

Germany gave the Americans 11 power plays, including a pair of what would have been full two-minute 5-on-3s but for the fact that the US scored on both of them, and a five-minute major. So yes, the US had six power play goals and just two at even strength, but what were they supposed to do? Not score? That’s not The American Way. It seems that with the mighty US of A having now scored 11 power play goals on 19 chances (57.9 percent) in three games, the only advice we can give is never take penalties or you will go home crying.

It also helps if you dress a goalie who’s taller than a toddler, but apparently

Top of the group, with breezy wins coming from everyone against whom the so-called vaunted Canadians have struggled. A goal differential of plus-7 at even strength, and plus-15 overall.

This was a massacre. There’s nothing funny to say. Oh boy Canada’s next. Maybe they’ll get up for this one and keep it close. But we’re not counting on it. Make up a sausage joke or something if you want but we’re just kind of sad and bored with the goings-on in Malmö at this point.

US ‘pushed to the limit’ in three-goal win

Get used to it, commie!

Get used to it, commie!

You’re going to hear a lot of talk about how close this game was and based on certain metrics you might even be persuaded that this is the case.

This is the kind of claptrap you’d hear on TSN. Don’t believe the hype.

The Slovaks dove all over the ice early and often in drawing six power plays, of which only maybe one or two were in any way explicable apart from “gross IIHF incompetence/corruption.” They also scored a pair of goals on those six power plays, bringing low the mighty American penalty kill and cutting the lead from 3-0 to 3-2.

Which, by the way, who cares? Again, this game was 3-0 about 24 minutes in, and while the Nervous Nellies and Naysaying Nicks out there might think that having the game be within a goal through 40 should be in some way troubling, the fact of the matter is that this, too, was as foregone a conclusion as Thursday’s breezy win over the Czechs.

After the game, NHL Network color commentator/possible double agent Dave Starman, said that the Slovaks “pushed [America] to the limit.” This after the mighty US tacked on not one, not two, but three even-strength goals in the third period. The Slovaks? Pushing the US to anything but the brink of comatose boredom? Don’t make us laugh and vomit simultaneously.

Let’s put this as simply as possible, so that even our Canadian readers can understand: Through six periods of hockey, the US has conceded one (1) even-strength goal, and that came in today’s contest because the team was up 6-2 and no one really cared, the definition of a garbage time goal. They’ve also scored six even-strength goals. Which tells you everything, really. Even excepting the American Superpower Play, which was once again gigantic in scoring three times on five opportunities (5 for 8 in the tournament), the US has outscored opponents by a wide margin. Jon Gillies was probably just giving up all those rebounds as a wink and a nod so that people don’t start thinking he’s too perfect.

And here’s the other issue for opponents as well: Even if all your diving works and you get power plays and the US can’t kill all of them, there’s no chance of competing with the Americans’ depth. Through two games, the US has scored 11 goals, and only one player on the team — captain Riley Barber — has more than one goal. That’s 10 different goalscorers in two games, and it’s not particularly nice or fair.

We could sit here for hours and write about the many ways in which this game was not at all close, because the US got a lead at 16:53, played pretty poorly for most of the rest of the night, and still never looked back. You want to talk about killer instinct? How about three goals in seven minutes to make it a two-, three-, and four-goal game?

If this is the US’s “limit” then someone’s going to die in the Germany game.

US lazily crushes Czechs with extreme disinterest

One of the few moments in this game everyone from America was able to stay awake at the same time.

One of a few moments in which everyone from America was able to stay awake at the same time.

The result of this game was never in question, as you might expect, but what was surprising is that the good ol’ US of A had this one wrapped up just 31 seconds into the game.

It was at that time the Czechs took their first penalty, ceding the one of three Superpower Plays, and 50 seconds later, there was a puck in the back of the net courtesy of captain Riley Barber. The rest of the game was academic, and served only as a curiosity; a simultaneous display of American muscle-flexing and largesse. It’s almost too bad Daniel Dolejs, who was actually pretty good in the Czech goal, had to be on the receiving end of this, but then Bikini Atoll had to be on the receiving end of some nuclear tests as well. All for the greater good.

The fact that the game ended only 5-1 has to be seen as a little disappointing, but then one has to keep in mind that this was asking a herd of elephants to do battle with an ant colony. For all intents and purposes, it was over quick — before it even started, if we’re being honest — but it still took time to mop everything up.

Two goals in the first, and again in the second, but the Czechs were either tied or within a single goal for a mere 122 seconds, which you’ll note is not very long at all. The second goal, also on the power play, was Will Butcher’s. Interestingly, no one on the US had more than one point in the game, because nothing says “equality” like spreading the scoring throughout the lineup. In all, 13 different guys had points for the Red, White, and Blue. Probably should have been more, but what’s the point?

The lone goal American Hero and Reigning Gold Medalist Jon Gillies allowed was on a soft power play called late in the game when it didn’t matter even a little, and only came because he really couldn’t be bothered to put down his book. He still finished the game with a .958 save percentage.

Again, it’s hard to get up for a game like this, or care about the result. Yup, it was a win. It never wasn’t one. You could write the postgame quotes yourself, the second the schedule was announced. “It was nice to get our feet under us. In a tournament like this you want to take every opponent seriously and zzzzzzzzzz,” wunderkind Jack Eichel probably said before falling asleep thinking about this pointless and vulgar exercise in power demonstration.

At least things will be a little more entertaining on Saturday when the US plays… Slovakia? Oh for f…