Thursday, February 25, 2010

Gabby shocks Hank, US wins, Canada Rolls

Our first Ranger eliminated from the Olympic tournament this year is a shocker - defending Champion Henrik Lundqvist lost yesterday - and so he heads back to the Rangers. But advancing to the medal round are: Gaborik, Jokinen, Drury and Callahan.

A lot of great Hockey action on Wednesday. Four teams advanced - four more teams went home - and the quest for the Gold Medal comes down to its final days.

First up was the USA - Switzerland battle. The Swiss - on zero day's rest, played hard and well against the favored Americans. Despite a decided advantage in shots on goal - and three 2nd period power plays - the US could not break the 0-0 deadlock through two periods. The American's Miller and Switzerland's Hiller we both pitching shutouts.

Team USA actually beat Hiller at the end of the 2nd period - and the puck was in the net. But a review showed that time had expired before the puck crossed re line.

So to the third period they went. And finally - Zach Parise broke through with a lucky bounce two minutes into the third. Still - the Swiss team hung tough - finally giving up an empty netter in the last few seconds to complete the 2-0 score.

Drury and Callahan have looked good on the 4th line and penalty kill. And several reporters have noted how much happier and more productive Drury has been in Vancouver than he is on the New York Rangers

In game 2 - Canada vanquished the mighty Russian team 7-3.

"They had more focus" Alex Ovechkin said afterward. The Canadians certainly had more something. They scored in the games 3rd minute, came out of the first period with a 4-1 lead, and never looked back.

Ovechkin - possibly the best player in the world - was held pointless by the aggressive and physical Canadian defense - playing their hearts put for the home crowd.

The win puts Canada in the semi finals and re-establishes them as the favorites to win gold. And all this further damages the reputation of Marty Brodeur - who has been benched since losing to the US.

Next, Ollie Jokinen and Finland defeated Jaromir Jagr and the Czech team 2-0. The 38 year old Jagr has not been the same since Ovechkin knocked him to the ice earlier this week.

And finally - the nightcap - Henrik Lundqvist and the defending champion (and heavily favored) against Marian Gaborik and Slovakia. The first Olympic playoff match-up of Ranger versus Ranger. Could The Gifted One break through against Hank - who had not given up a goal in the entire tournament?

The answer: Yes he could. Gabby did score on Lundqvist, and so did his teammates as Slovakia defeated Sweden 4-3. It was a crushing loss for Henrik and his countrymen - who won the gold medal four years ago - but this year go home empty handed. And, unfortunately – it was something of a debacle for Lundqvist – who let up 4 goals on just 14 shots, for a save percentage of .714%. Hank needed just 12 saves to get his team to the medal round – and could not do it. Tough loss. But a least Lundqvist gets a few days of rest before the Rangers final playoff push.

And so the semi finals are set for Friday:

Olli and Finland take on the US with Chris and Ryan (a lot of Ryans actually).

And Gabby and Slovakia will play against the Canadians.

Should be good stuff.

1 comment: