Olympic Gold Medal Game: “At Least It Was Him”

That five-word phrase was the text I received from my brother shortly after Sidney Crosby’s Gold Medal-winning goal through the legs of Ryan Miller in overtime of Canada’s 3-2 win over the United States on Sunday.

I went into the tournament unsure if my vague patriotism would trump my desire to have Crosby not become forever villainized for failing to bring a gold medal to Canada, and all the message board Crosby-baiting and dirty looks from Tim Horton employees that would assuredly follow, but I ended up rooting for the US throughout the tournament, impressed and invigorized by just how legitimately awesome their collection of young talent was (the days of hoping for Doug Weight and Derian Hatcher to catch fire are long gone). I said going into the games that this was the strongest team the US had ever fielded, and that they had a great chance to medal, but the fact that I ended up actually disappointed that they lost in overtime to Team Canada in a gold medal game in Canada shows just how far they blew even my high expectations out of the water. I couldn’t think of lame sportswritery thing to replace “water” with in that sentence — blew my expectations out of the ICE! See? Stupid.

Of course, Crosby prevailed in the end, like the Lone Ranger if the Lone Ranger gave really measured, underwhelming interviews every time he saved a village. But despite the ashen faces on the US players while receiving their silvers (I know they lost a game, but did every player’s puppy simultaneously die between that final goal and the medal ceremony?), the US team can only be encouraged with their performance in Vancouver. Factor in that most of their team is still in their early 20s (except Patrick Kane, who’s an astonishing 3 years old), and the level of US talent in the hockey world at the moment is unarguably higher than it’s ever been.

Quick Blame Game and Opposite of Blame Game:

Drew Doughty, Shea Weber, Duncan Keith, Rick Nash, Patrick Kane, Brian Rafalski, Ryan Suter, Erik Johnson, and Ryan Miller were all extremely impressive.

Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, Phil Kessel, Joe Thornton, and both Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo were all extremely unimpressive.

The biggest loser of the Olympics, however, was Russia. Whether their decision to use half KHL players was based in actual hockey acumen or in a desire to prove to the world that the KHL players could hang with NHLers (it’s clearly the latter), they exited this tournament in complete embarrassment. They beat Latvia and the Czech Republic, then lost to Slovakia and got blown out with a quarter-assed effort against Canada in a first-round elimination game that could’ve been the Gold Medal game. Also, if I’m a Sharks fan, I am loving my chances with Evgeni Nabokov heading into the NHL playoffs…

Overall, I predict that this Olympic goal should forever end any and all criticism of Sidney Crosby, on the internet or elsewhere. Everyone agree?

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