UPDATE: My ears still hurt.
First Period in a Nutshell
Great to see Jonathan Toews given a chance to play with Rick Nash. He’s been very good but underused. Everyone in the rink standing for the opening faceoff! Incredibly noisy. Crowd’s “Let’s Go Canada!” chant fun but loud enough to cost me two fillings. You win this time, decibels! Boyle to Getzlaf at 2:21 of the first. 1-0 Canada. I’m sure there have been louder places to be: inside a jet engine, for instance, or across from Rosie O’Donnell at dinner. Canada utterly dominating the play and taking it to the Russians physically. This is the team we all thought we had. My ears are actually ringing. I look across the rink and see people coming back from the concession stand. HOW CAN PEOPLE GO TO THE CONCESSION STAND DURING THIS GAME??? IT’S CANADA-RUSSIA FOR CRISSSAKES!! Right now you get the feeling Brenden Morrow would run over an old lady if she had the slightest Russian accent. God, even Joe Thornton is playing well. Had Twitter on there for a minute and came up with a new rule: I’m no longer following anyone who tweets during the Russia-Canada game unless it’s about the Russia-Canada game. Cheap penalty call. If every hockey game were this good and this exciting, the Super Bowl would be the second-most watched sports event in the U.S. every year. Ovechkin fall down and go boom! The Russian defence seems slow and shellshocked – making a surprising number of bad or risky passes. Ten minutes to go. Volchenkov takes a desperate, well-earned penalty to stop Crosby from getting a break. With all the near misses, there hasn’t been this much “Ooooo”ing and “Ohhhhhh”ing in a building since last Wednesday on Charlie Sheen’s waterbed. Russians don’t seem to mind when Canada steps on, pushes around and otherwise feels up their goalie. Boyle scores a softie at 12:09 from Heatley and Marleau. 2-0 Canada. Canada passing noticeably less and shooting noticeably more. Nash! On a beautiful tic-tac-toe play at 12:55. 3-0 Canada. Well-deserved assists to Toews and Richards. Utter domination. Timeout Russia. I’m not saying Luongo hasn’t been menaced for a while, but he just came back wearing a Quatchi hoodie from the souvenir stand. Afinogenov just bodychecked someone, equalling the number of hits he has last season in the NHL. Kalinin scores from the point on a wobbler that somehow navigates a great screen. 3-1 Canada. Five minutes to go. Malkin blows a great chance and dogs it back to his own zone, looking to the sky. Energy ebbing a bit for Canada – need the Getzlaf line out there. Oh! “How did Nash just miss that?” to be added to universe’s eternal questions, along with “Who really killed JFK?” and “What type of witchcraft does Jim Belushi use to keep getting work?” Goal! Morrow scores on a wraparound stinker with 1:42 to go. Boyle and Keith assist. 4-1 Canada. The Russian fans down at the end of the rink look dejected. Crosby slams Volchenkov, one of the leagues’s best hitters, into the boards. The buzzer sounds.
Second Period in a Nutshell
Deep breath – time for another 20. TV’s Pierre McGuire looks funny standing between the two benches, like he won a reality show entitled World’s Tiniest Bouncer. Toews is relentless on the forecheck. I think Babcock is just realizing this guy is for real – gave him almost six minutes of ice in the first. Crowd mood subdued to open second. Either people are anxious that the next goal will be pivotal or everyone’s succumbed to a nacho coma. If Dan Boyle isn’t quite having a whale of a game, he’s definitely having significantly more than a porpoise of a game. Junky play. Neutral zone tedium. And then – goal! Perry scores at 3:50 off a Getzlaf whiff. That bounce makes clear that even the hockey gods have taken sides in this one. 5-1 Canada. Goal! Weber on a rocket off a pass from Toews. 6-1 Canada. Goaltender change for Russia. Nabakov out, Bryzgalov in. I’m feeling warm all over. Ovechkin, too, though that’s because he just wet himself looking at the scoreboard. Afinogenov scores on a nice rush. 6-2 Canada. Never thought I’d type these words but Afinogenov is playing better tonight than Ovechkin, Malkin and the ultra-invisible, see-through Kovalchuk. Never thought I’d type these words either: Canada’s curling skip kind of turns me on. (Not the bald one.) Nash rolls out Korneyev, then makes delicious shortbread cookies from him. Afinogenov also surprisingly leading the Russian team in whining to the refs. Ten minutes to go. Goal! Perry again, and again a beautiful setup. Getzlaf’s pass to Staal was especially inspired. 7-2 Canada. We’ve now surpassed the over-under of most Oakland Raiders games. Nash just misses on a tip-in, but red light flicks on anyway. Force of habit. I’m not saying the Russian defence is phoning this game in, but they’ve just used up all their roaming minutes. Penalty to Thornton and, within seconds, goal by Gonchar at 11:40. 7-3 Canada. It’s like an All-Star game, but enjoyable. Watched Ovechkin closely on last two shifts: completely lacklustre, no physical element to his game. Even worse: terrible beard. Kovalchuk floating. Refs miss a too-many-men penalty to Russia. I’m not saying the Russians have become conditioned to the fierce Canadian attack, but they’re now routinely engaging in premature backpedaling. (Solution: think about baseball.) Doughty hasn’t scored tonight but his shots from the point are lasers (and not the stormtrooper kind that always miss the target). Penalty to Keith. I don’t think the Russians have hit a Canadian solidly this period. The buzzer sounds.
Third Period in a Nutshell
Interesting ice-time stat: Duncan Keith has almost 17 minutes in the first 40. Chris Pronger has less than nine. Mike Babcock, come pick up your Order of Canada. Twenty minutes to go. Flag-waving, noise, anticipation. Russians still on PP. Bergeron getting some rare ice time on the kill. Scoreboard shows pretty blond chick. Novel. Penalty over and Canada back on the rush. Staal outskates Volchenkov to a puck in the corner, takes a check to the shoulder and goes hard into the boards (wind knocked out?). Gonchar throws his hands into the air as tries to stop Richards from speeding past – universal sign of “I deserve a penalty.” He gets a penalty. Iginla just misses while Getzlaf takes vengeance on Volchenkov. San Jose line very quiet tonight. Bryzgalov is making some big saves. Later tonight, in a brief ceremony, IOC officials will file them under Too Little, Too Late. We’ve entered the cheap shot portion of tonight’s game. Russians raising the elbows. Russian penalty – too many men (aka the Kate Hudson penalty). Quick, someone, alert the media: Joe Thornton just hit someone. Datsyuk get all dipsy-doodley in the Canada zone. Back, forth, up, down until Weber gets bored and just flattens him. First taunting chants of “Ovie! Ovie!” with 11:05 to go. Canada doing a nice job of bottling up a Russian team that’s desperately looking for long passes. Ten minutes to go. On the scoreboard, Canada’s gold-winning ice dancers show up and get a rousing ovation. From hockey fans. I’m going to go out on a limb and call that a first. Toews dumps in a puck that hits Ovechkin on the hand. He reacts as though winged by a sniper. I would not want to face off against Brenden Morrow in a battle for the last red-hot Christmas toy left at Toys R Us. If they scored hockey hits – which, by the way, they should – Morrow would get 0.0 for artistry and 11.0 for inflicted pain. Penalty to Pronger for “doing his job.” Ovechkin, miraculously healed, is on the ice. A Canadian defensive boner gives Malkin a break but Luuuuuuu stops him – best save of the night. First chants of “We want Sweden!” come with three and a half minutes to go. Winding down now. Rousing cheers. Boyle gets nailed, cleanly, by Semin and then chases him down to retaliate, throwing him to the ice. Fans think it’s manly but you can be sure Babcock doesn’t. (Hilarity: Boyle climbs onto Canada’s bench, thinking he’s escaped a penalty. Umm, no. Even more hilarious? Russian waiting until 58 minutes into the game to start hitting.) Ninety seconds to go. Wild cheers. People standing. Fat guys finally get some scoreboard time (ran out of pretty ladies). Crosby just misses on a near break. Pandemonium. 7-3 Canada. I speak only for myself: I want Canada to win gold – but if we do not win gold, this game just might be enough.