Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Scrappy Swiss give Canada a scare; Brodeur to start vs. U.S.

Posted by: Michael Russo under Olympic hockey, Wild news Updated: February 18, 2010 - 11:13 PM

Big sigh of relief by the sea of red inside Canada Hockey Place tonight and throughout Canada after the Canadians survived a scare from Switzerland. Four years to the day after the Swiss upset Canada in Torino, it almost happened again. Switzerland rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force OT but succombed in the shootout.

Jonas Hiller was spectacular for the Swiss, and Marty Brodeur stopped all four shooters in the shootout. He'll get the nod vs. the U.S. on Sunday -- a question after Roberto Luongo's shutout vs. Norway.

After nobody scored in the first three rounds, things reset and per Olympic rules, Mike Babcock was able to pick shooters again or go with new ones. He picked Sidney Crosby again, and this time Crosby didn't pick. After a fourth Brodeur save, the Canadians won.

If they had lost, they would have beaten the Americans in regulation Sunday to guarantee a bye into the quarterfinals. If Canadians lose Sunday, they'd have to play a qualifying game I believe because they dropped a point tonight. If the Americans lose, they'd be 2-1 and then it would be up to which is the best 2-1 team based on goal differential, I believe.

Four teams get byes. Eight teams play in the qualifying round. Like I said, the caveat here is, "i believe." As Brian Burke joked earlier this week, he went to Harvard Law School and he doesn't understand the format.

Obviously, if the Swiss won tonight, it would have been an upset. Canada could fill three teams if they wanted. But the Swiss aren't some weakling. This is a big, fast, solid, quality defensive team. This wasn't Belarus or Latvia.

In the Olympics, by the way, unlike the NHL, goals count in the stats, so Crosby actually scored a goal tonight. And Hiller actually gave up three goals.

Just a great atmosphere in the rink today for all three games. Russia-Slovakia is about to take the ice.

U.S. played a terrible second period, but they were the better team in the first and third periods in their 6-1 win over Norway. I still think at the end of the day, it will be the defensemen that derails that team. Not impressed with the blue line.

Some funny stuff today from the Ron Wilson presser, as well as the joint Gary Bettman-Rene Fasel pressers. That stuff can be found in the paper or on the web site, maybe even right now.

Lastly, regarding Roman's blog here, Don Lucia might have been told that the quotes in the Cam Barker trade story were old quotes, but that is false.

I called Tommy Thompson after the trade Feb. 12, I reached him in Vienna and the quotes used were from that phone conversation Feb. 12. I've been a sportswriter since 1991. While it's true I've had conversations with Thompson about this subject before, I would never hold quotes from a previous interview and use them in an article on a completely different context without identifying that as such.

With that, I'm out of here. I'll be back at the hockey Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I'll also be covering another what I'm sure will be very fun event Saturday, too -- ski jumping.

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