Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Quick Exit - Finland 4; USA 3

Well, that wasn't altogether surprising. I kind of suspected that we'd put it together for a game, and that we'd catch Finland on an off-day, but the Americans were outworked and outplayed until the final six or seven minutes, but by then it was too late. Undisciplined play, untimely penalties, and an inability to cover for those mistakes were the difference. Give the Finns credit. They play a boring style, but it's effective, and they beat us with their third string goaltender.

USA Hockey is really in a bit of flux right now. The heroes of the '96 World Cup, and even most of the guys that took silver in 2002, are no longer in peak form, and it really showed in this tournament. Somewhere along the way, there was a gap in the development of American born players, and most of our best talent is either over 35 or under 25. It's gonna be a few years before that talent develops to the world class level needed to compete with the best. Zach Parise, Phil Kessel, Eric and Jack Johnson, these are guys who may be ready in 2010, maybe not. Don't forget that the US won the World Juniors last year, and were favored to win it this year. Kings fans can probably look forward to seeing Tim Gleason and Dustin Brown on the next Olympic team, and quite frankly, Joe Corvo would have looked a lot better than Darien Hatcher in this one, especially with goal scoring at a premium.

One of the biggest deficiencies compared to the past teams the US has put together is between the pipes. Nothing against Rick DiPietro, who played admirably (and he *was* a #1 pick overall). He didn't cost the Americans any games, but he didn't steal any either. They don't have a Mike Richter. And that fact becomes clearer when you look at the goalies for many of the teams in this tournament. The Russians, Czechs, Canadians, Finns, Swedes, and Swiss all have better goaltenders than we do. Hell, the Czech, Canadians, and Finns all have at least two goalies better than we do.

The good news is that the US won't have to face any heat from the hockey press, because the Canadians just choked even harder than we did.

A regular 'ol comment thread broke out on the last post, so I might as well add that I have one crappy US jersey (Leetch), a crappy Ukranian jersey (Zhitnik), and a crappy Russian jersey (Zhamnov). I also have a Dynamo Moscow jersey (Maxim Kuznetsov). And that does it for the international jerseys. I'd still love to get a Slovakian jersey with #26 - Stastny on it. As for the NHL stuff, I have:
  • Predators - blue (no name)
  • Panthers - red (no name)
  • Senators - original black (no name)
  • Kings - old purple (#16 Dionne)
  • Kings - old white (#71 Timonen - worn by him in training camp)
  • Kings - old black (#15 Stumpel)
  • Kings - new purple (#28 Deadmarsh)
  • Kings - new black (#20 Robitaille)
  • Kings - new white (#17 Visnovsky)
  • Whalers - blue (#94 Shanahan)
  • Nordiques - blue (#26 Stastny)
  • Flames - white (#6 Housley)
  • Capitals - old red (#4 Hatcher)
I'm pretty sure that's all the authentics. I also have a cool authentic throwback Illinois jersey that the hockey team busted a few times when I was there that's Orange with Illinois and a retro Chief on the front with a tie up neck and blue and white striped shoulder patches. Even though I'm a bleeding heart liberal, I'm too jingoisitic in international sports to be buying all kinds of internation jerseys.

And I agree, our jerseys suck. The ones from the '96 World Cup were good, but ever since Nike started making them, they're for shit. And these more form-fitting ones they've been wearing this year are awful. And don't get me started on the socks. They look like they're wearing their shin-guards on the outside.

12 comments:

J. Michael Neal said...

A lot of similarity between the US and Canada games. Both of the North American teams played very undisciplined, clearly didn't have the speed to keep up with the Europeans, and couldn't even outphysical their opponents, though for different reasons; the US simply couldn't catch the Finns to hit them, and the Russians gave hit for hit. The Finns won battles along the boards with finesse, the Russians with strength. Kasparaitis had a massive and, surprisingly, for Darius, legal hit on Gagne. Yashin was a monster on the boards, as hard as it is for Ottawans to believe.

US and Canada also both waited until the last few minutes to show any passion or urgency. By that time, it was too late.

I'm sorry about the Slovaks, as I wanted to see them in the finals. It's hard to root against the Czechs, though, so I'm not overly disappointed. Finland-Czech Republic should be a great game. I really think that the Russians will beat the Swedes, but that's because I've always thought that the Swedes are guaranteed to choke in a big game. 1998 was a fluke; Byelorussia, anyone?

Seitz said...

I'm sorry I read your comment, as I had recorded the Slovakia game and was planning on watching it when I got home without knowing the outcome beforehand.

Russia has the most talent left in the tournament, and probably the best goaltending.

J. Michael Neal said...

Sorry. I thought that, since we were discussing results, that it would be okay.

Seitz said...

No big deal. I'd probably rather not watch them lose anyway.

J. Michael Neal said...

It was a good game. Slovakia went out on their shields, though they looked very tentative for the first period. They woke up a lot earlier than the North American teams did, though. Both goalies made some great saves. I have a hunch the Hnilicka (Christ, would the guy go buy one of those extra vowels the Finns are lugging around?) will be getting another look from NHL teams.

Ironcheffie said...

Canada played lazy hockey. And Stupid Hockey.

You will be hearing from me soon on my lame blog. There will be anger. And calls for summary executions.

Ironcheffie said...

I heard Derian Hatcher managed to out stupid Bertuzzi and out suck Chris Pronger the entire tournament.

Do you know how DIFFICULT that is to do?

J. Michael Neal said...

Oh, and Shredder:

https://www.icejerseys.com/cart/item_details.php?id=3143

Go for it. I'd get you one as a gift, but you're a lawyer and I'm unemployed, so bite me.

Seitz said...

I don't like those crappy form-fitting Nike jerseys. And the only ones they are selling are replicas. I don't buy replicas anymore. It's authentic or nothing.

Ironcheffie said...

Well, that's because you're a rich White Lawyer. The downside of that is that Dick Cheney might shoot you.

Seitz said...

Well, I'm a white lawyer anyway. Not too sure about the rich part.

J. Michael Neal said...

I've met Shredder, though. Dick Cheney would definitely shoot him, rich or not.