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The gold medal blog

Sunday, 28.02.2010 / 10:19 AM / News
By Mike Board  - CF.com Digital Content Director
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The gold medal blog
Content director Mike Board, from calgaryflames.com, will write a live blog during the Canada-US gold medal game with updates after each period. If you have a question for him, you can reach him at editor@calgaryflames.com

FINAL THOUGHTS
Posted at 4:05 MTN

Wow. Canada wins with an great feed from Jarome Iginla to Sidney Crosby, perhaps the two most maligned forwards lately. 3-2 and a gold medal.

We took our champagne, Canadian, of course, out on the driveway for a photo and the true Canadian spirit greeted us: Kids playing road hockey with their Canadian jerseys on.

Do I need to say any more?

Canada lives. Canada breathes. And Canada is hockey.

Congratulations to the players on Team Canada and congratulations to Vancouver. A marvelous Olympic Games capped by one of the best hockey games we, here, in Lake Bonavista, a small community In Calgary, have ever seen.

OH CANADA! The words never sounded so good.



THIRD PERIOD THOUGHTS
First thoughts? Oh, No! There is however too much firepower. Canada can take advantage of their depth in overtime to secure the win. They do, however, need to get back to the attack and not sit back. Go for the gold boys. Nobody remembers who wins silver.

Crosby needs to produce. But he is not the only one. Someone in the dressing room is taking charge right now and Canada will come out with plenty of  fire.

If the building in Vancouver is not alive, we have no heartbeat.

Preciction at the party I am at is that the Canadians still win.

Bobby Lou needs to stand on his head and the winner will come from a scramble.

Posted at 2:50 MTN


SECOND PERIOD THOUGHTS

Okay, we get the 2-0 lead but does it seem like we are hanging on a little?

Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Brenden Morrow supply the juice and the Canadian goal for a 2-0 lead.

But the pesky Americans (did we teach them this game?) come back with a Ryan Kelser goal on a tip. Can't blame Bobby Lou on the re-direct. He almost had it squeezed. He was tested in the second more than the first and is earning his Maple Leaf.

The latter part of the period was a little bit like river hockey and that's what the Americans want. Look for Canada to shut things down a little and play a more structured third period, at least as long as they have a lead.

Also expect the crowd to really get into this final 20 minutes. This is, afterall, the biggest medal of the Games on the lline.

Our two top lines are the Toews and Getzlaf lines. Rick Nash is a force. Eric Staal has also been strong offensively. Did we previously mention Duncan Keith's quietly effective play. If not, we should have.

Look for the Americans to bring the fort in the early part of the third. Canada needs to weather the storm and stay composed to win this one.



Posted at 1:55 MST

FIRST PERIOD THOUGHTS

Starting the Richards-Toews-Nash line is brilliant -- Richards drills two Americans on the first shift to establish Team Canada and the line then provides the only goal of the period giving Canada a 1-0 lead. Thank you Jonathan Toews.

The Americans are not going away though as they push back during the second half of the period with plenty of gusto. For Canadians, not a great sign as it is the first time the USA has trailed in this tournament and they handled it well.

Eric Staal makes a great power move on the power play but is foiled by goalie Ryan Miller but the  Canadians will need more of that type of play to wear down Miller and the American defence. The line with Staal, Jarome Iginla and Sidney Crosby din't always click in the first (and neither did the San Jose Connection). That means there is more to come from them.

Love seeing Scott Niedermayer and Drew Doughty (seriously how good is this Doughty kid?) jump into the play and crete offence.

Luongo has been steady but not truly tested yet, which is just fine.

And, a fashion comment. Does Anybody like white hockey helmets? Not in the household I am watching. It is unanimous that the Americans need a different colour.

See you after the second....



Posted at 10:00 MST


PRE-GAME RAMBLE:
The ups. The downs. The close calls. The sure things. The debates about player selection.

The Olympic Tournament has provided many thrills and many chills for Canadian hockey fans.

"It's not just a game. It's our Canadian fabric. It is what we are," my friend likes to say.

Today, it comes down to one game for the coveted gold medal. Super Sunday for a nation of passionate hockey fans whose country can already be proud of winning 13 gold medals, the  most of any host nation.

But without a win in hockey, there will always be a caveat. "We won 13 gold medals but we lost the gold in hockey."

This is a replay of the 2002 Olympic final in Salt Lake City. On that day the Canadians spoiled the American party, bringing home the gold medal with a 5-2 win. This time it is on Canadian soil and the United States would like to return that favour.

Current Canadian players Jarome Iginla, Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer and Martin Brodeur were on that team in 2002 and will be able to help those who have not been on this frenetic stage.

Canada enters the game after a close call with the Slovaks, who scored two goals in the third period and missed a glorious opportunity to tie the game in the dying moments, on Friday night.

"When we got scored on, it was amazing how we couldn't make a pass or a play," Babcock said. "I thought we really showed a lot of nerves. The Slovaks stuck to their plan and kept pushing, and in the end we feel real fortunate to have the opportunity to do what we came here for, and that's to play for the gold medal."

It was eight years ago Canada won its first gold medal in 50 years with a 5-2 win over Team USA on American ice in Salt Lake City.  While the margin was three goals, Martin Brodeur was excellent and, really, the game was closer than th score. The Americans will be looking to win their first gold since the Miracle on Ice in 1980 in Lake Placid.

Team USA defeated Canada in this tournament by a 5-3 margin last Sunday, but Canada felt it won that game in every which way but the scoreboard. The Canadians outshot the Americans 45-23 in that game. Sounds a little like Satl Lake City.

But it is now about one game. The past is in the past. A nation will gather in its church today and across the country we will pop out of our seats at every scoring chance, on just about every rush.

"We've been building up for this for years," Jarome Iginla, who scored two goals in the gold medal game in Salt Lake as a 24-year-old, told the Calgary Herald. "We've talked about it as Canadians and hockey players and wanting to be part of this team, wanting to get a chance to win a gold medal."

The chance is now here.

There are so many keys to success in a one-game showdown: discipline, emotional control, systems, battles within battles. Too many to list in their entirety here. But here's some of the keys as we see it:

GOALTENDING: American Ryan Miller was outstanding against the Canadians in the round robin. His counterpart in that game was Martin Brodeur, who has not played since. Roberto Luongo, playing in his own rink, will get the nod. The goalie who comes up with the big, timely save, will likely lead his team to the promised golden land. Figure on the Canadians to put everything on the net early and often.

SPEED: The Canadians can skate but the edge in speed has to go to the Americans. That puts the onus on Canadian players to play strong all over the ice. No coasting will be allowed and, if you think the coaches have been quick to sit lines throughout the tournament, it will be even quicker today. Look for young Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith and captain Scott Niedermayer to play big shutdown roles simply because of their skating.

INTANGIBLES: Depth and determination. The Canadians have four lines, all of whom can put the puck in the net. They also have a nation behind them? Seriously, the arena known as GM Place during the NHL season, will be so loud at the start of this game that it will send chills down the spines of fans on Canada's east coast.

KEY PLAYER FOR THE US: Zach Parise might be one of the most underrated players I have ever watched. Good skater with a nose for the net who will never quit. Honourable mention: Patrick Kane

KEY PLAYER FOR CANADA: Sidney Crosby has six points and doesn't lead Canada and that has caused some debate among Canadians. Forget it. Sid the Kid is the best we have and it will show today. We would just like to see him shoot more. Honourable mention: Jonathan Toews.


UNSUNG HEROES: For the US, Chris Drury is steady and has a knack for winning at every level. He is a big game player. Honourable mention to Jamie Langenbrunner.

For Canada, Mike Richards is a big body not afraid to crash the net for that rebound goal. He's been quiet at times but this is a big stage. Honourable mention to Brenden Morrow.

See you after the puck drop!