BGDB3: SUPER SUNDAY

CalgaryFlames

EdmontonOilers2

Olympic question: Who is Canada ’s biggest rival when it comes to hockey; Russia or the United States?

We could sit here and argue until the 2014 Winter Games begin but there would be no clear cut winner. There are such different styles of play when comparing games against the US compared to those against Russia that the rivalries are almost completely different.

The North American games seem like a sibling rivalry. There is nothing worse than losing to your little brother and often the games become cheap and vicious as a result. When the Canadians play Russia on the other hand there is a greater sense of respect, taking into account the history of the big games between the two Northern Nations througout the past 60 years.

For years, the political maneuvering required to get the two teams to play almost overshadowed the game on the ice and represented one of the few glimpses Canadians would have into life behind the Iron Curtain. But even though the Cold War is now over and with many Russians playing in the NHL, there is still a lingering sense of a rivalry that is bigger than the game of hockey and bigger than the Olympics.

But until the Russians meet the Canadians, this afternoon’s game against the US will start the National Heart pumping for every true hockey fan in Canada, as well as the Yanks who think they understand the best game on the planet.

Make no mistake; Canada is the States’ biggest rival.

We are the little brother who has kicked their ass for years. Sure, they’ve had a few victories from time to time, but when the Red, White and Blue lines up against the Red and White they are always entering the game as the underdog.

This isn’t a position the Americans are used to being in and they will be looking to knock off the Canadians and reclaim top spot when the puck drops today.

COMPARE AS WE DARE

The American all-time leading scorer, Brett Hull, wasn’t good enough to represent Canada in international play, so he defected to the States. Eighteen Canadians have more career points than the traitor Hull , and the highest scoring real American is Mike Modano.

Only 24 Canadians have more career points than him, and even the Czechs, Swedes and Finns have a player with more points than an American and the Euros have only been in the NHL for 25 years.

Perhaps you think it’s unfair to compare the past. Fine, let’s look at the present. We have Sidney Crosby. They have Patrick “20-cent” Kane. We have Drew Doughty. They have Erik “I can’t-drive-a-golf-cart” Johnson. We have real beer. They have 3% tastes-like-something-else-altogether beer.

WTF

We have Marty Brodeur, the greatest goalie to ever play, not to mention he is so smooth off-the-ice that he can divorce his wife and marry her sister without much fanfare. They have Tiger Woods, who speaks like a robot and had his wife knock out his chicklets with his own 3-iron.

We have Shawn Horcoff (wait for it before you toss your cookies) sitting on a beach not playing. They have Chris Drury, with a worse contract, wearing an “A”. Is your depth that shallow that you need a $7 million boat anchor on the team? We have Crosby, Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Rick Nash and Jarome Iginla in the top-30 in scoring.

They have 20-cent, Zach Parise, Ryan Kesler and Paul Stastny. Hell, we have three guys in the top-10 in scoring, Steven Stamkos, Marty St.Louis and Brad Richards, who couldn’t make our team.

We have Mr. Class, Steve Yzerman.

They have Brian Burke.

And they have Johnny Weir.

When your fellow figure skaters think you are too flamboyant, you are raising the bar for your entire sport.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Mike Babcock stated yesterday he is happy that his team faced some adversity v. Switzerland , because he was worried that they wouldn’t have been challenged in the first two games and might have come in over-confident this afternoon.

That’s all fine and dandy, but Babcock needs to start coaching to win. He has struggled trying to get everyone involved. The extra forward and D-man make it hard to get guys ice time, but this is not the time to worry about hurting a player’s feelings. I say roll four lines and three sets of D-men, and maybe spot in a guy as a specialist on the PK or the PP, although putting a cold guy in on the PP wouldn’t be a great strategy.

IGINLA HURT

No one on Team Canada will confirm it, but with Mike Richards replacing Jarome Iginla on a line with Sidney Crosby and Rick Nash, you do wonder if Iggy is hurt. He only played two shifts in the 3rd period v. the Swiss after taking a hit to the shoulder/head area.

This might make Babcock’s life easier, because he can just go with four lines. We will see if Iginla slots in on the “4th line” with the likes of Patrice Bergeron, Brendan Morrow and Jonathon Toews. Mike Richards will have an impact tonight, because the States have a lot of guys who play on the edge, and Canada will need Richard’s to counter that. Patrice Bergeron has been a demon in the draws so he’ll be a factor and they will also need Morrow to counter the aggressive hitting of the USA .

The San Jose trio has looked good, and I’d expect Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Eric Staal to remain a line, although Babcock loves Toews so we might see more of him tonight.

PRESSURE RISING

With Canada not coming close to “Owning the podium” the focus on the Men’s hockey team will be even bigger now. If Canada had 15 or so medals at this point, the focus wouldn’t just be on hockey, but now with no chance of “Owning the podium” Canada will look to the hockey team to salvage these Olympics.

Sorry Denny Morrison, but blaming the Own the Podium’s decision to not allow Shani Davis to train with you as the reason you tanked it in the Olympics is the lamest excuse I’ve heard. Why couldn’t you push yourself? Are you saying that you needed him to push you to get better? If you thought you were losing a step (stride) in the last year, why didn’t you do something to alter it?

Call him? Get a better coach? Blaming the program as the reason you struggled in Vancouver only makes you look like a choker and a whiner. I’m sure you are better than that, but you came across as someone who wants to blame others, rather than yourself, for your disappointment.

That’s not the Olympic spirit.

FINALLY

Do Nancy Greene (CAN) Gold medalist in the 1968 giant slalom in  Grenoble, France proud fellas.

Let’s get at ‘er.

  • Dan the Man

    I'm not gonna blame Pronger for being so lousy tonight, I mean he must be exhausted. Just think about how many female reporters are in Vancouver right now.

    Seriously though when is the Oilers next game? At least I don't care when they lose.

  • Jason Gregor

    Super Sunday, indeed! Super for who? Certainly not for Canada and its sorry, non-performing Olympic athletes, most of whom have produced terrible results. God bless the Vancouver citizens who have decided to win the Gold Medal for partying and having fun. And as for 'Own the Podium,' it has been the biggest all-time bust of the Canadian Olympic Committee. Heads should roll in the executive offices. Roger Jackson and Ken Read, both of Calgary, who are the authors of 'Own the Podium,'should move on in disgrace and let real pros take over.

    Now on to U.S.A. 5 – Canada 3, here we have the Canadian boys playing against a team with one of the worse GMs in the NHL (other than Mr. Tambellini), and Ron Wilson, obvious THE worse coach in the NHL. Our $100 million boys lose to the Americans! It is time for Hockey Canada to give its head a shake when it comes to picking the management group for Team Canada for major international hockey tournaments. Last time it was Gretzky and company that screwed up in Torino. This time it is Yzerman and Lowe (Lowe of the infamous Edmonton Oilers).

    Help!

    • Seriously man. Do you really think management is much more than a decorative aspect in a tournament like this? Its pretty simple actually. You just gather the best guys you can, have a practice or two and have at 'er. Fact is, Miller played his nuts off and Brodeur not so much.

      Perhaps we all overvalued the quality of this team. The Slovaks would give us a hard time at the level we're playing right now. Maybe this will be a wake-up call for our guys. It might actually help that we're in to win going forward. No more pissing around.

  • The coaches need to keep Iginla with Crosby and quit messing with that line at the beginnings of games, sit Chris Pronger down, and put Luongo in net.

    Brodeur doesnt have it right now, go with the guy who DIDNT let in 2 goals on 5 shots.

    And Cheryl Bernard is attractive like that super repressed Soccer-Mom kinda hot. Like your buddy's hot mom who didnt mind when she caught you checking her out kinda hot. Or something.

  • Sammy D

    Re: Cheryl Bernard

    Her book is called "Between the Sheets," she yells "Hurry Hard" and rubs the ice gently to slide things in just so. Every once in a while she calls to slam one in there to "take it out, TAKE IT OUT!"

    Yeah, curlers are hot. Anyone see the chicks of curling calendar a couple of year ago. Ice melter.

    Good news is I can't get the hockey on TV or the interweb here in the UAE. Didn't have to live through the pain. Looking forward to living vicariously through the second guessing that will go on between now and the end of the tournament.

    One thing on the matter – loss may be the absolute best thing for this team. It was the embarrasment of losses in '72 and '00 that lead to big wins.

    Hey – it ain't over till Rita McNeil sings…

  • Cheryl Bernard is not at all hot… horse face.

    Canada had to beat the Russians at some point, so why not right after the German's? There's no easy route to Gold, boys. What's 1 extra game? Nothing, to me. Adversity builds winners. It won't be easy, but Canada is not out. Not by a long shot.

    As far as the Americans, they were underestimated by most. Miller played outstanding. I'm sticking with my prediction of American Bronze. Unfortunately, one of Canada and Russia won't be around for the Gold medal game.

    BELIEVE…