ADVERTISEMENT

Final Four: USA vs. Finland; Canada vs. Slovakia

  • Blog Post by: Michael Russo
  • February 25, 2010 - 9:52 PM

    

Coca-Cola, an American company, handed these out to all the gleeful Canadian hockey fans as they exited Canada Hockey Place tonight after Canada's women's hockey team won their eighth gold medal with a 2-0 win over the United States.

It's a gold Coke can that reads on the back, "Congratulations Canadian Olympic Ice Hockey Team on Winning Gold!"

Very presumptuous. No gender, meaning if the women didn't do it, Coke could hedge their bet with perhaps the men.

Locker-room material, I say.

I grabbed two gold Coke cans. Now I realize there's no way these two carbonated cans are going to survive my giant suitcase during my pressurized flights from Vancouver to Calgary, Calgary to Edmonton and Edmonton to Minneapolis coming up.

And since I don't drink soda (I get enough caffeine from another liquid), I'm sure I'll make a couple Canadian hockey fans very happy with a little keepsake on the trainride back to my hotel.

And yes, they'll be a gifts. I won't be selling them.

Rachel Blount will have you covered with all the women's hockey covering in Friday's Star Tribune. I wrote an advance on the Finland-U.S. game. Basically, I ran into a group of hockey fans on the train this morning that were all talking about how for the first time in this Olympic men's tourney, the Canadian fans will probably be rooting for the Americans against Finland because Canada wants a gold-medal rematch with the U.S.

As for the Hockey 101 portion of the advance, I wrote about how of all the European countries, the Finns are most willing to engage in a physical showdown. As Brooks Orpik said, unlike the Russians who were intimidated by the Canadians' physical game, the Finns won't run for the hills when the Americans come out hitting.

It should be an NHL-type, North American-style, north-south hockey game. The Finns are very defensively responsible, and if the Americans start getting too cute, the Finns could easily make the United States pay.

As for Slovakia-Canada, I wrote a story about Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra being reunited again -- and maybe for the last time. The Slovaks have 18 players on their team, I believe, born 1980 or before. This is an old team, and with all due respect, according to hockey insiders, nothing's coming out of Slovakia. In a few years, scouts say they might be in the competition level of Belarus and Norway.

Slovak players know this and had a huge meeting yesterday in which they discussed that this could be their last chance for a medal for awhile, and as Pavol Demitra said, "Go for it."

I didn't write about all this, but I did write about Gaborik and Demitra loving this chance to play with each other for the first time since playing for the Wild.

This has been outstanding tournament. Very unpredictable. I mean, who'd ever guess that none of Russia, Sweden or the Czechs would make the semifinals?

Especially Sweden -- the defending gold-medal winners. Henrik Zetterberg was their THIRD-line center. That's a deep team. And sadly, we probably saw the last of Nicklas Lidstrom and Peter Forsberg and Co. in this type of setting.

It's kind of the same way for Finland with guys like Koivu (the older one), Selanne, Peltonen, Lehtinen. This is it for these guys, so I'd expect some bigtime motivation vs. the Americans.

As for Russia, just brutal. As I mentioned last night, the coaching was terrible, the decision to bring over so many inferior KHLers was brutal, the way the Russians just quit was brutal.

Martin Havlat and Marek Zidlicky are on their way back to Minnesota to rejoin the Wild after losing to the Finns.

As for the Wild, I like the Clutterbuck signing for both parties. $1.4 million is a cap-friendly price. As for Guillaume Latendresse, I've been told they're not close yet, and there's no rush, so I wouldn't panic. Plus, he's a restricted free agent -- not unrestricted.

OK, I'm excited for Friday. Should be two awesome games. Heckuva tournament. Heckuva thrill to be here covering it.

© 2014 Star Tribune