Pick of the Day: Men's Ice Hockey

That's how the sport is listed on the official website of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. That's to distinguish it from Field Hockey, I guess, which is one of marquee events of the Summer Olympics.

Yes, again I jest. With the summer games, Field Hockey, outside of maybe a few hotbeds like India and Pakistan, does not enjoy a high profile. But when it comes to the winter games, Men's Ice Hockey definitely is one of the top draws. And today on CTV/NBC/Whatever Other Networks Are Involved in Broadcasting the Games at 6:30 p.m. there's a match-up between the United States and Canada that should be the highlight of the preliminary round (although Sweden vs Finland, and Russia vs Czech Republic, which are also on today, should be okay games too).

Lacking cable TV, I didn't see a millisecond of Canada's first game against Norway, an 8-0 spanking on Feb. 16. I did catch the last two periods of their game against the Swiss on Feb. 18 at a friend's place. Canada certainly had the better of the play in their 3-2 shoot-out win, but the Swiss were very definitely no push over. Led by goalie Ryan Miller, meanwhile, the U.S. recorded a hard-fought 3-1 victory over Switizerland on Feb. 16, and then dispatched Norway 6-1 on Feb. 18.

Against the Swiss, the Canadians had trouble finishing, and they also were prone to reckless giveaways on defence. I'm not sure exactly what playoff format the Olympics follow once the preliminary round is over, but regardless of the outcome of today's game both Canada and the U.S. will advance to the next round.

The men's semi-finals are set for Feb. 26, while the gold medal game will be played on Feb. 28. Will they meet again down the road? Perhaps. But both Sweden and Russia look to have strong teams too, so a gold medal appearance by either team is by no means assured (unlike in Women's Ice Hockey, where it would take an upset of seismic proportions for there to not be a Canada vs U.S. gold medal showdown).

1 comment:

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