February 21 2014 01:00AM
Today, the outcome is all that matters.
It doesn't matter if only Drew Doughty and Shea Weber score, as long as Canada wins.
It won't matter if Sidney Crosby is held pointless, as long as Canada wins.
Shots totals won't matter, as long as Canada wins.
It won't matter that through the first 4 games USA has 20 goals and Canada 13, as long as Canada scores more today.
The WIN is all that matters.
All of us hockey fans love to analyze the game, especially in Edmonton where we've had to suffer through eight seasons of losing hockey. Man's natural instinct is to solve a problem, and that is why OilersNation is the busiest site of the NationNetwork family. You've been focused on finding a way to end the losing, but today is one of those rare occasions where your inner fan will block out the need to analyze.
At 10 a.m. MST we will sit down and watch "our boys" dominate the United States of America.
Today's game is all about pride for our country and enjoying every heart-pounding moment.
We could break down shots for/against, powerplays, penalty kills, goals and more, but the previous four games have zero impact on today's game. How Canada played against mainly inferior opponents means little in how they will attack the Americans.
I've thoroughly enjoyed the Sochi Olympics. I'm an extremely proud Canadian, and I've had a mixture of emotions watching the games thus far.
I was pumped watching Regina's Mark McMorris win our first medal, Bronze in Slopestyle.
Later that day, I almost teared up watching the Dufour-Lapointe sisters, Justine and Chloe, win Gold and Silver in moguls. It was the first time two Canadian siblings stood atop the podium, while their older sister Maxine finished 12th, but she beamed with pride when her younger sisters received their medals. Sharing that moment with your sibling must have made it incredibly special.
Kevin Reynolds had the skate of his life to help secure Canada a Silver in Team Figure Skating. It was great watching athletes who usually compete on their own or in pairs, get to be in a team atmosphere. You could tell they loved being part of a team and cheering for each other.
Charles Hamelin raced to Gold in the men's 1500m in long track speed skating. Many felt it would be the first of many medals for Hamelin, but sports can be cruel and Hamelin never reached the podium again. He fell in the 1000m and 500m and his brother slipped in the 5000m relay. You realized afterwards how special the 1500m win was for him.
Then Alex Bilodeau made history by becoming the first person to win back-to-back Gold medals in moguls. Watching him brought back fond memories of his 2010 victory in Vancouver. He was the first Canadian to stand at the top of the podium on home soil, and I remember his interview with Brian Williams where he talked so passionately about his inspiration; his older brother Frederic, who has Cerebral Palsy. Winning a Gold medal is incredible, but to defend your title four years later is truly amazing.
Bilodeau's teammate Mikael Kingsbury won Silver that night, and he will be a favourite in 2018. It was special to watch the present and future of men's moguls share the podium.
Our Gold medals kept coming as Dara Howell won Slopestyle skiing and her teammate Kim Lamarre won bronze. In the first four days we had multiple winners on the podium in three sports. It was awesome.
The great stories kept coming. Gilmore Junio made a very selfless decision by giving up his spot in the men's 1000m long track to teammate Denny Morrison. Morrison didn't let him down and won Silver. Afterwards Morrison suggested Junio should carry the flag in the closing ceremonies. I agreed then and I still do now. He was the ultimate teammate.
Patrick Chan won the Silver in figure skating, but he missed a great chance to win our first ever Gold in men's singles. I felt for him, but I thought he handled the post-skate pressers and subsequent interviews with class and maturity. I'm sure he was devastated inside, but it never showed, and for me that illustrated his character. Top notch.
February 15th: Morrison was back on the ice and won his second medal, this time a Bronze in the 1500m. The Dutch have dominated the long track events this year, except when Morrison was on the ice. Hopefully he inspired some young Canadians to put on a different pair of skates.
February 16th: Dominique Maltais had a great race in my favourite winter Olympics sport, Snowboard Cross, and won a Silver. It is like Nascar on ice. The crashes are spectacular and you need to be fearless to win. I love this event.
Jan Hudec ended a 20-year drought for men's Alpine skiing with a gritty Bronze medal effort in the Super-G. Hudec could barely walk a few weeks ago due to a herniated disc, but he persevered and restored the "Crazy Canuck" title.
February 17th: Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue skated beautifully and won a Silver in Ice Dance. They could have bought into the conspiracy theories of fixed judging, but instead chose to relish their medals and congratulate the winners. Classy.
February 18th: Sherwood Park's Mike Riddle won Silver in the inaugural ski halfpipe. He won his medal in snowy conditions and he scored a 90 on his 2nd run facing immense pressure. It is always inspiring to see athletes embrace the pressure rather than let it beat them.
Marie-Eve Drolet, Jessica Hewitt, Valerie Maltais and Marianne St-Gelais raced to a Silver in short track 3000m relay. St-Gelais and Maltais had crashed in their individual events, but they responded when their teammates needed them most.
February 19th: Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse defended their Gold medal in bobsled. They were 2nd heading into the final run, but they put down a great time and put the pressure on the American team. They couldn't match Canada's consistency and finished .10 behind. It turns out this wouldn't be our last repeat performance.
February 20th: Jennifer Jones and her team of Kaitlyn Lawes, Jill Officer, Dawn McEwen and alternate Kirsten Wall went 11-0 en route to their Gold medal in curling. It was Canada's first gold medal in women's curling since the late Sandra Schmirler won in 1998. It was nice to see Canada's curlers back where they belong: at the top of the podium.
Our women's hockey team completed the 4-peat with a dramatic come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the USA. The best part about sports is how unpredictable they can be. USA led 2-0 with less than four minutes to play, but the women scored twice to send it to overtime, before Marie-Philip Poulin scored the OT winner. Poulin scored the tying goal and she had two goals in the Gold medal win in 2010. In hockey circles we call that "clutch."
February 21st: For the 3rd time in Sochi we won Gold and Silver in the same event. Marielle Thompson and Kelsey Serwa led from start to finish in women's ski cross. They dominated their preliminary heats as well, and this was one of the rare times in ski or snowboard cross that you could relax and see Canada skiing to victory. Thompson and Serwa had great starts and were never in trouble.
Hopefully it was foreshadowing to what will be a great Friday for Canada.
I honestly won't feel more pride when (yes I said when, not if) we win Gold in men's hockey, than I did watching our other athletes win, but I do admit it is a different feeling.
In the other events there is a massive rush of nerves and excitement for anywhere between 30 seconds and five minutes, but in hockey your angst and excitement lasts over two hours. That is what makes it so exciting and nerve wracking. I don't rate the hockey medals any higher, but due to the length of the games they have a way of penetrating our system for longer periods of time, and I think that makes the victories feel bigger.
We have already won 22 medals, and Brad Jacob's curling team should have another Gold before puck drop, and we have four Canadians in contention on the last day of short track speed skating.
I've really enjoyed these Olympics so far, but the passion, excitement, nervousness will intensify once the puck is dropped, and I can't wait.
I don't see any reason Babcock should juggle his lines now. He will shuffle during the game, mainly to get St.Louis involved, but as Theo Fleury told me earlier this week, "This is an easy game for a coach. Don't give the players too much information, just let them do what they do best. Motivation will not be an issue."
The main reason Canada wins today is because their blueline is significantly better than the Americans. It isn't close.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Canada wins. That is all that matters.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Canada wins.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After another tough loss to Canada at the Olympics the Americans decide to change from Fahrenheit to Celsius. They realize that in order to be a true hockey Nation you have to experience minus temperatures, not 10 or 12 degrees Fahrenheit.
RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR