Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sportsology: Gold medal hockey game preview

Posted by Rick Morris

Game Day is here! USA USA USA! While fighting the rational part of my head that sees a Canada 3-2 win in today's huge gold medal showdown/rematch (50 years ago today we saw the gold at Squaw Valley, though!), I greatly enjoyed this preview from our good pal Russ Cohen of Sportsology and we're happy to reproduce it here.

USA vs. Canada -- The Pressure
By Russ Cohen

Hockey Canada has been waiting for this moment. Their entire country will be watching and the players know that. The players can feel that. Team USA has been happy-go-lucky the entire time. GM Brian Burke made sure of that from Day One.

"I'm extremely honored to be asked," said Burke, who is the top general manager in the National Hockey League according to The Hockey News. "We'll have one goal. And that's to put together a team that can bring home the gold medal. The journey starts today and I very much look forward to it.

“We are grateful for the media coverage and the buildup to the Olympics,” he said in a very honest way. “It’s an opportunity to attract a new fan base. We’re excited. Now that we’ve named the team, we have turned the page generationally and that didn’t come without agonizing about it.”

When Burke and the management team decided that Ryan Miller was the goalie, the plan was simple and they never wavered. Coach Ron Wilson set the tone early.

“I would tend to look for consistency and ride the hot goalie,” he revealed. “This is about going to Vancouver to win a gold medal. We’ll see when the time comes.”

Team Canada unceremoniously pulled Martin Brodeur in favor of Roberto Luongo.

Miller has been getting himself ready for this moment for a year.

“I’m just very excited to wear the colors back for the country and have it be the greatest tournament that we have in hockey,” Miller stated. “It definitely comes down to preparation and evolution (of his game). It’s been a focus getting to be at the highest level that I can.”

If the Americans capture gold it will be an unexpected pleasure. If the Canadians capture the silver it will be a bitter disappointment.

Ryan Kesler knows that the local fans in Vancouver are likely to give him a mixed welcome when the NHL season starts back up.

“They’ll probably be mixed and they will probably hold a grudge because of [the previous game],” he pondered. “Hopefully they will be happy that I’m on their side again.”

Now we wait…

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