The Final Four
The Final Four of the medal tournament was decided last night. We are down to the United States vs. Finland and Slovakia vs. Canada.
This tournament has been full of things I wouldn’t have believed would happen if you told me. I really can’t say I expected this to be the final four. If someone would have told me before the games started that Sweden and Russia would both finish without a medal, I wouldn’t have believed you. Add to the fact that the U.S. got the number seed and I would’ve thought you were downright insane. It’s funny how things happen though. Just a few days ago, Team America beat Team Canada and everyone and their mother began to panic north of the border (except for Steve Yzerman and Mike Babcock, of course). Now, the Canadians look like the big, bad dog they were supposed to be when this whole Olympic gig started.
On the first edition of The Good Old Hockey Show, we made some predictions before the games started. I picked Sweden to win it all. Not many people were talking about them. It was all Canada or Russia. I felt like the Swedes could sneak up on some people. I was looking pretty smart until last night. Slovakia took it to the Swedes and won thanks to a game winning goal from Tomas freakin’ Kopecky. Really Sweden? You let Tomas Kopecky beat you?
The Fins? They’re good. We knew they’d have a shot to compete. I think they might be the only team that hasn’t surprised me. Before this thing started, I could believe the Fins would make the final four and I also wouldn’t have been shocked to see them out in the first round either.
And then there is the good old U-S-of-A – the young kids who are just playing out of their minds and having a good time…and winning. I didn’t think they could hold up defensively after they lost Paul Martin and Mike Komisarek, but they’re playing as a team out there. Unlike the Russians who looked like a bunch of individual all-stars against Canada, the United States looks like a team when you watch them. The kids have heart and they’re thriving in their role.
Can’t you just feel where all of this is headed? Last Sunday, the world watched the U.S. beat Canada. Arguably the biggest win for the U.S. in hockey since the Miracle on Ice. The Canadians were on life support. Now, just four days later, the Canadians have found their swagger and are probably the gold medal favorites once again. We’re on a collision course for one of the biggest re-matches in the history of the game of hockey and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m extremely glad that Canada absolutely crushed Russia last night. Team USA needs to be the underdog. That’s their role and they can play it to perfection. I don’t care if they’re technically the top seed. The U.S. needs the underdog label. I sincerely hope that Canada crushes Slovakia and the U.S. gets by Finland in a close game. Then all the pressure goes back on the Canadians and the U.S. will have them right where they want them.
Then again, this tournament has been full of things I wouldn’t have believed, so I guess we should expect to see Finland vs. Slovakia for the gold, eh?