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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It's not often games live up to the hype, but I can't imagine covering a more exciting hockey game. Between the atmosphere and the type of hockey played and the mounted American comeback and the overtime winner, it was just a tremendous final display of these Olympics.
Just a thrill.
The Americans were obviously overwhelmed with disappointment, and most weren't taking solace in the achievement of winning a silver medal. Erik Johnson, for one, called it a "complete disappointment."
As Patrick Kane said, "You come here and you think of the feeling that it’s going to be winning gold, you don’t get it and then you’ve got to wait another four years to even have a chance at it. It stings."
But during this two-week tournament, behind great goaltending from Olympic MVP Ryan Miller, young, fast forwards and an unsung blue line, the Americans came together marvelously as a "team," and that's why today could have gone either way.
As for detailed coverage on the game, I direct you to the newspaper stories. That's why I write em. Jim Souhan and I will have a final webcam up soon.
It was an amazing experience to cover this men's hockey tournament, and all of the Olympics quite frankly. I found the luge fascinating, especially documenting Tony Benshoof for three days. I marvelled over the ski jumpers and I enjoyed standing in a snowstorm waiting for Lindsey Vonn's first downhill training run to be cancelled.
Now, it's back to covering the Wild for me. And, ugh, on to Calgary. Normally I love Calgary, but man, I've been gone since Feb. 9. I want to go home.
Guess what? At 11 p.m. Sunday night, the NHL trade freeze will be lifted, so I'd suspect we'll see some deals consummated Monday that were agreed upon during the embargo. The trade deadline is at 2 p.m. CT Wednesday.
I talked to GM Chuck Fletcher Sunday morning and he said, "We have nothing imminent. Whatever we do, I think it would be closer to the deadline, assuming we even do anything."
You can read the story in Monday's paper, but if Marek Zidlicky isn't signed by Wednesday, it would be absolutely shocking if he is not traded. The priority is to sign him, but Fletcher made clear that Zidlicky is a significant asset in the same category as Kim Johnsson. And as you know, he traded Johnsson in the Cam Barker deal.
Lastly, all Olympics long, I've heard the English version of the Olympic theme song, "I believe," by Nikki Yanofsky. Lately, I started to hear the French version. I remembered back in December when we were in Montreal, Guillaume Latendresse told me his girlfriend, French Canadian pop star Annie Villeneuve, was in Calgary buried inside a recording studio taping the theme for the Olympics.
I looked it up, and the French version is indeed sung by Villeneuve. Here's both versions.
Well, the last two practices of these Olympics are over, and Sunday's 2:15 p.m. CT dream gold-medal matchup is a few hours away.
Like they did against Finland, look for the Americans to go right after the Canadians. Said coach Ron Wilson, "If Canada comes at us really hard, we'll have counter measures. But we're not going to survive if we hide in a foxhole, I can tell you that. We're not going to sit in a foxhole like we've seen some teams do in this tournament and wait for Canada to make a mistake (see Germany, Slovakia)."
Check out Sunday's paper for all the preview and advance material for the game.
From the NHL, here’s a closer look at the opponents -- a game which features the NHL’s brightest
stars on the world’s largest hockey stage.
Avg. Height : 74.1" (6'2"); 72.7" (6'½")
Avg. Weight: 208.6 lbs.; 203.7 lbs.
Avg. Age: 28.0; 27.0
GP (skaters): 11,155; 7,602
Goals (skaters): 3,148; 1,609
Assists (skaters): 5,284; 2,765
Points (skaters:) 8,432 ;4,374
Hat Tricks: 47; 13
Stanley Cups: 14; 7
Height :6'3"; 6'2"
Weight: 207 lbs.' 174 lbs.
Age: 30; 29
Hometown: Montreal, Que.; East Lansing, Mich.
GP: 596; 316
Wins: 261; 176
Shutouts: 51; 17
GAA: 2.55; 2.58
Save Pct.: .919; .914
* The average age of both rosters combined (27.5 -- Canada 28.0, USA 27.0)
is younger than that of the NHL League-wide (27.6)
* 70% of the players on both rosters are under 30 (32 of 46)
* 90% of the players on both rosters are under 35 (41 of 46)
* There are eight players aged 23 and under (Drew Doughty, Patrick Kane,
Jonathan Toews, Erik Johnson, Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby, Bobby Ryan, Jack
Johnson), all of whom were picked among the top five their respective draft
years (Crosby-Ryan-J. Johnson went 1-2-3 in 2005; E. Johnson, Toews and
Kessel went 1-3-5 in 2006; Kane went 1st in 2007 and Doughty went 2nd in
* Only one player on the Team USA roster ranks among the top 50 U.S.-born
players for career NHL games (captain Jamie Langenbrunner is 37th with 945)
* There are only three Team USA players among the top 150 U.S.-born players
for career NHL games (Langenbrunner, Chris Drury, Brian Rafalski)
* The average age of the gold medal finalists from the USA and Canada at
the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City was 31.55 (USA 31.7, Canada
And ... exhale.
Not just the premature-celebrating Canadians in this hockey arena tonight who were chanting, "We Want USA!" the entire first 10 minutes of the third period, but NBC. You can bet the network was especially holding its breath those last frantic few minutes as the Canadians nearly got tied up.
With a few seconds left, NBC came one Pavol Demitra shot away from a United States-Slovakia gold-medal game. But Demitra, twice in the last few minutes with the game on his stick, couldn't bury the equalizer, and the gold-medal rematch everybody wanted is here:
Sunday at 2:15 p.m. CT, Canada vs. the United States
And while the Americans waxed the Finns even though they took their foot off the gas the last few periods, the Canadians showed some real vulnerability tonight when the no-risk Slovaks finally decided to try to score. Playing the most conservative game in the history of the sport -- and I know conservative games -- the Slovaks finally forechecked in the third period and the Candians spent 10 minutes on its heels and nearly collapsed.
Canada can be forechecked, and as the Americans have shown during its 5-0 run to the gold-medal game, its got the speed to forecheck with the best of 'em. The Americans are confident, they haven't trailed in the tournament, they haven't been scored upon first in the tournament.
Who knows where this game would have ended if Marian Gaborik had played the third period? The oft-injured scoring stud didn't play the final 20 minutes. As of right now, it's unknown as to why. He came into the tournament with an injury, and told me two days ago that he was getting injections to be able to play. Did he reaggravate his injury or suffer a new one?
We will see if he plays in Saturday's bronze-medal game against Finland. Miikka Kiprusoff is supposed to get the start over Niklas Backstrom, by the way.
As for U.S.-Canada, it should be a classic. Can't wait.
As for details on the US now, here's Saturday's game story/big picture look at the team
Some good American one-liners from today:
This is raw, with typos, but here you go:
Please note: Chip just put a fresh Wild blog right under this item.
Onslaught here in Vancouver after the US took a 6-0 lead into the second period on Finland. Miikka Kiprusoff surrendered four goals on seven shots in 10:08 of play.
Niklas Backstrom, in relief, gave up two on six shots.
Antti Miettinen and Niklas Hagman were minus-3's in six shifts. Mikko Koivu was on for one goal -- the sixth.
Through one period, Patrick Kane's got two goals, Ryan Malone one goal, one assist, Zach Parise one goal, one assist, Erik Johnson one goal, Paul Stastny one goal, one assist, Brian Rafalski two assists.
Kiprusoff started it off with terrible giveaway to give Malone an open-netter, and the rout was on.
More to come later
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