The Men’s Olympic Hockey Semi-Finals are set to get underway on Friday after the Quarter-Finals wrapped up last night. I’m not going to review the stomping Canada laid on the Russians because I’m sure every other blog and web site has already touched on it. I’m not sure I can offer any new insight either. Evgeni Nabokov easily played the worst game of his career and the Russian forwards were dreadful in the neutral zone. Full marks to Canada for their effort though. They played one of the best first periods I’ve ever seen.
Instead of game reviews today, I’m going to rant about some of the things that have really ticked me off over the last few days in the Olympics. Feel free to add yours below – I can’t be the only one with issues about the Olympics!
- Luongo’s familiarity with Canada Hockey Place – I keep hearing TV analysts and people online citing Roberto Luongo’s familiarity with the ice, boards, etc… of Canada Hockey Place (or GM Place). I think that’s ridiculous. Do you have any idea how much work went into this arena prior to the Olympics? The glass isn’t the same glass used in Vancouver Canucks games. The boards have basically been rebuilt. The ice is getting chewed up faster than free desert at a Britney Spears dinner. Very little of Canada Hockey Place should be familiar to Luongo or any other Canuck. In fact, the only the thing that’s the same is the doorway to enter the building. Luongo is a great goalie and has been solid for Team Canada, but this isn’t one of the reasons why!
- Christian Ehrhoff’s Team Canada Comments – Following Germany’s Quarter-Final loss to Canada, Christian Ehrhoff reportedly said he wasn’t very impressed with Team Canada. He went on to say “[The Russians] bring skill, but they also play very hard and physical. They have a great goalie and I think they have the complete package to pull it off here”. According to Chris Stevenson of Sun Meda, Ehrhoff agreed Canada isn’t yet at the level of team play the Russians and Americans have shown so far. Here’s my question: Was Ehrhoff watching the same tournament as the rest of us? The Russians didn’t look very impressive at any point in this tournament. Team USA looked extremely disjointed, prior to the great game they played against Canada. And Ehrhoff’s quotes came after the Germans were soundly beaten by Canada in a fairly dominant Canadian performance. Sounds like someone is bitter…
- Skates in Faceoffs – As everyone knows, one of the subtle differences between international hockey and the NHL is rules about using skates on faceoffs. In the NHL, it’s perfectly fine. In international hockey, it’s not. Having said that, I can’t tell you how many faceoffs I’ve seen won with skates. In yesterday’s Quarter-Final games alone there were 4 or 5 instances. I don’t really care for the rule, personally, but rules are rules, right?
- Evgeni Plushenko – OK, this one isn’t so much about hockey, but I found it hilarious. Following a great opening skate last week, the Russian Figure skater took a verbal jab at his competition saying “Without a quad it’s not men’s figure skating”. In other words, you aren’t a man if you aren’t pushing the figure skating boundaries. Uhh, Evgeni, you are still wearing tights, make up and glittery costumes that only Lady Gaga would wear… pretty sure that’s not considered “manly” either.
- Another Pierre McGuire Quote – No international hockey tournament is complete without at least one eye rolling Pierre McGuire quote. This one was pulled from Tuesday’s Canada-Germany game when McGuire discussed the infamous “Luuuuu” chants for Roberto Luongo. During the telecast, McGuire said the following: “A lot of kids cry, they don’t understand why people are booing Luongo… that needs to be explained to a lot of people”. *Sigh* Yeah, another great McGuire quote. When I heard him say this, I got the distinct feeling that millions of other hockey fans around the world were rolling their eyes just like I was. It was powerful! I anticipate more great quotes later this week given the size of his current Shea Weber man-crush.
- Terrible Reffing – I didn’t think the Olympic refereeing would be more inconsistent than the NHL, but wow, it is! How wrong I was. It’s everything, too. From penalties called (hitting, interference, holding or tripping – like last night’s Marian Gaborik penalty), faceoffs and even stopping play when goalies are hit in the head with pucks. There’s been several times this tournament where the play has been blown down and I’ve been completely lost as to why.
- Olympic Brackets – I realize this isn’t anyone’s fault, but prior to the Quarter-Final games yesterday, you could split the tournament brackets into two groups: top and bottom, with one team from each group making it to the Gold Medal game. The top brackets featured USA, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Finland while the bottom brackets featured Canada, Russia, Slovakia and Sweden. With all due respect to each Country/Team, the bottom bracket’s seemed way tougher. Than again, both Russia and Sweden looked pretty average all tournament… I’m completely confused why. This tournament has been weird…
- 2010 Miracle on Ice – This one drive me crazy. When you look at the American Men’s Hockey team, it’s a solid NHL team. On paper, perhaps it lacks the big names Canada and Russia boast, but it’s a very strong hockey team. Calling this team the “2010 Miracle on Ice” or even making the comparison is downright insulting to the quality players on the team. Although Team USA wasn’t considered the top team in this tournament, their success so far is hardly a surprise. TV broadcasters need to stop with all the “Ryan Miller played well because Jim Craig was watching” nonsense. Ryan Miller played (and is playing) well because he’s one of the best goalies in the world. End of story!
Stay classy, Olympic hockey.