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).