Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Quarterfinals are set

I haven't watched the US game from today yet, but while the result stayed the same, we did manage to actually score 3 goals, which is more than we scored in the last two games combined. Anyway, the quarters are set, and here are my predictions:

USA over Finland
Canada over Russia
Slovakia over the Czech Republic
Sweden over Switzerland

Canada over USA
Slovakia over Sweden

Bronze Medal
USA over Sweden

Gold Medal
Slovakia over Canada

I think we'll see a lot of great hockey, but I think the Slovakian stars will rise to the occasion and frustrate the Canadians. It's pointless to say that I think the Slovaks have more talent, because they don't. But Canada has stuggled for much of the tournament, and the Slovaks have been playing great team hockey, and they have the best line in the tournament with Demitra, Hossa, and Gaborik. Their power play is excellent with Lubo along the blue line, and I think they're finally ready to show the world how good they are. They've been screwed by the format the last few years, forced to battle it out in the preliminary rounds with less than a full team, as most of those games would come before the NHL began it's break, and as a result, they inevitably failed to get into the secondary round robin. But they're loaded not only with NHL talent, but with NHL all-stars, and in some cases, superstars.

Of course, the man responsible for the whole thing is the greatest European player in the history of the NHL. Peter Stastny not only put this together as its general manager, but he's responsible for inspiring many on the Slovakian roster, as he was the country's first true NHL star, accumulating more points in the 1980s than anyone not named Wayne Gretzky. If they can continue their excellent play and take the gold, no one will be prouder than Stastny.


J. Michael Neal said...

Eh. Right now, I don't buy the US over Finland. The US may have scored four goals, but three of them were on the power play. The Finns have taken the fewest penalties in the Games, and have looked fantastic killing off those they have taken.

Meantime, the USA made some horrible turnovers today, and still looked really sloppy. That isn't going to cut it against the Finns, who feast off of turnovers, and have a lot more team speed than the Americans.


Anonymous said...

I second JMN - the US will not beat Finland.

almost as certain as the Illini not making it to the Final Four this year (hell, after tonight's DEBACLE, they might be a stretch for the Sweet 16). All is not well here in Champaign tonight.

Seitz said...

When did you get to be all Finnish? Then again, last I recall, you were enough of a traitor to own a Canada jersey, so I'm not surprised to see you sell out your countrymen like that. I jus think we're due for a good game, and they're due for a bad game.

I'll be disappointed if we lose, but I'll have a rooting interest as long as the Slovaks are playing. Their talent is off the charts. Speaking of which, who does Paul Stastny play for when he's good enough to make a national team?

J. Michael Neal said...

As I said in comments to a previous post, that I suspect no one read, I like the Finns because, in all the time I've been watching international hockey (though not as much as I'd like, since no network in the States shows any), the Finns have never mailed in a game. I've always gotten the sense that they simply want these games more than anyone else. Granted, the Slovaks may have equalled them in the desire department, but I think that the Finns deserve the reward for all their heart. They've never won a major international tournament, because they don't have the same talent level. Check out the number of non-NHLers, or marginal ones, on their roster.

So, I'm rooting for a Finland-Slovakia final.

4-2 Suomi!

Ironcheffie said...

The Team Canada Anger has reached a boiling point. I blogged it

J. Michael Neal said...

Oh, yeah. I have a Canadian jersey (Yzerman), a Swedish jersey (Lidstrom), a Czech jersey (Hasek), a Soviet jersey (Larionov), a Central Red Army jersey (Fetisov), a Russian jersey (Datsyuk) a Michigan jersey (Rick Willis), two Gopher jerseys (John Brill and Nate Miller), a German jersey (no German Red Wings or Gophers) and a Finnish jersey (ditto).

I'd get a Team USA jersey (Chelios, of course) if only they weren't so damned ugly.

Ironcheffie said...

I have a Team Canada Jersey (Red one with Retro Logo) (Used in Salt Lake), but I haven't paid for it beacuse i haven't been back to Canada to pay for it. My friend has it right now. I'm probably going to get Smyth 94 or Richards 39 on it. I WOUDL have gotten Neidmermayer, but he didnt' play this tourney. Sakic I also thought about but he plays for the Avalanche.

a Swedish jersey (Lidstrom)

That is SWEET

a Czech jersey (Hasek),

What a piece of diving Eurotrash

J. Michael Neal said...

4-3 final. The US made it closer than the overall level of play indicated it should be. They were terribly undisciplined, taking a lot of stupid penalties. What a surprise; Tkachuk was at the top of that list. Niittymaki finally looked human, and the US got a lot of friendly bounces. DiPietro made some huge saves that kept the Americans in the game long after the eighteen guys in front of him had tried to concede it.

Oh, and I have to change my mind. My Team USA jersey, if they ever get a decent one, will have to be Jordan Leopold. my Gopher loyalty is stronger than my Red Wing loyalty, though it's close.