After 2 weeks of excitement, upsets and heart break the Olympics have come to an end. Though in every sport it’s difficult to watch when your country comes up short, in hockey the feeling is much more indescribable. For the Sweden and American teams it’s a crushing blow to the team and their countrymen. Sweden leaves with a Silver medal but they didn’t win Silver, they lost Gold. The American team left without a medal when most argued they were the favorites. An even worst fate for the hometown Russian team, they didn’t stand a chance playing only an offensive game.
In 2010 Canada won Gold, they decided they might as well win Gold in 2014 as well. This time around, every Canadian player was on the same page when it came to their game plan. During the preliminary rounds they weren’t exactly the most offensive team but as the old saying goes, defense wins championships. The United States of America, in simple words, steam rolled their opposition like it was nobody’s business, so when the world heard it would be Canada against USA once again, the Canadians were the underdogs.
From the start of the game it was evident the Canadians had the Americans beat in most attributes. They had the size, the speed, experience and flat out pure skill. The Americans did have Jonathan Quick in net, which might have been the only part of their game they had the Canadians beat on. No one could have guessed the game would have ended in a 1-0 score. Watching the game, from the ten minute mark in the first period on, the Canadians had the game in their pocket. They were winning on the boards, in the neutral zone, scoring chances, just about winning in every aspect, including the scoreboard. How were they able to do so? By playing as a team, not one player put themselves above the team and it worked.
Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf, players that are used to scoring goals and putting up points on a nightly basis in the NHL. The entire team is full of stars on their respective teams, but for this Canadian team they all played the exact same role and by playing as one, they were able to get past USA. It may not have been the most exciting of games you’ll ever watch but from a technical viewpoint it couldn’t have been any better. That is until they played Sweden in the Gold Medal game.
In the game against the US, the American skaters at least put up a fight. They created scoring chances, made it difficult to get to Quick for rebounds, and Quick himself was focused the entire game. The Swedish team couldn’t muster up anything, Lundqvist wasn’t playing as well as were used to seeing him play, it seemed that the only thing Sweden was doing right, is taking the Canadian defensemen out of rush.
By the end of the games it was extremely apparent that Canada was not more skilled or had more drive to win the Gold. No, what the Canadians had over every other country was stamina. As each game went on the opposing teams were worn down by the middle of the second period. Canada never missed a beat, never looked exhausted, and kept their foot on the pedal until the bitter end. You would have expected the Americans and Swedes to keep pace seeing as 49 of those 50 players play in the NHL. The truth is, even the stars on those teams ended up crouched over at some point, trying to catch their breath.
Canada wins Gold, Sweden settles for Silver, Finland wins Bronze. Great tournament.