Did you catch the very end of the U.S.-Finland game? I’m a little worried – not so much by the American victory, which was impressive, as by what I saw afterward.
When the buzzer sounded, the broadcast cut to the suite from which U.S. GM Brian Burke and his gang were watching – and we saw Burke and company exchange a series of double fist bumps. Both fists, tight together directly in front the body, touch the other guy’s two fists, boom!
Does Steve Yzerman have an equally manly victory ritual of his own that he shares with his underlings? Could this be our Achilles heel? Quick, send someone out to the team bus to teach Yzerman a jive handsake!
The day’s second semi-final in men’s hockey, pitting Canada against Slovakia, gets underway at 6:30 PT. See you then.
5:09 p.m. PT They’re showing the gold medal match in women’s curling on the scoreboard screen at Canada Hockey Place. A win for the home side would be historic, in that no other women’s team has ever captured gold on the same day that their skip has changed her hairstyle.
5:27 By the completion of the 10th end, we should have more people cheering on Cheryl Bernard in Canada Hockey Place than at the curling venue. We’re at a few thousand fans and counting, and they just cheered with vigor as the Swedish skip botched her final stone of the ninth. There have been hoots of “Vancougar.”
5:33 Forgot to mention: we’re getting video of curling, but not the audio. Instead, the arena soundsystem guy is cranking Flock of Seagulls. It’s the fourth time I’ve heard Flock of Seagulls this week. I am now prepared to officially wager that the arena soundsystem guy is the lead singer of Flock of Seagulls.
5:35 Despite my best efforts, I can not seem to make the women’s curling final sync up in any meaningful way with I Ran.
5:45 Canada Hockey Place, moving in on half-filled for tonight’s game, gives up a thunderous roar in anticipation of Cheryl Bernard and her team winning gold. And then an awkward “Ooooo” when Bernard’s clincher doesn’t pan out, and the Swedes tie it to force extra ends. On the bright side, men in attendance here can continue to harbor hopes of consoling a vanquished Bernard deep into the night. The dream stays alive.
5:55 Clash of priorities: Warmup beginning at Canada Hockey House. But curling still going on! Solution: Picture-in-picture technology. Curling relegated to bottom right corner of scoreboard screen. The players on the ice are going to be very confused if the curlers win and this place goes ballistic. Ziggy Palffy will be like: “My, how the Canadians love my groin stretching!”
5:56 Song that’s always played as Team Canada takes the ice for the warmup: Spirit of Radio by Rush. Better luck in Sochi, April Wine.
6:04 I have watched closely, and I have seen only one Team Canada player take a look up at the curling on the scoreboard: Jarome Iginla. Watched for about five seconds. (Wait – now Iginla has got Brodeur interested.)
6:08 Uh-oh. Bernard muffs a second straight end and loses. We won’t be seeing, or talking about, or thinking about the curling anymore. Let’s just hope Iginla doesn’t take it too hard.
20:00 I’m a little nervous. Are you nervous? I’m a little nervous. Spent a couple hours running from bar to bar, trying to locate a Slovak willing to declare his team a mortal lock so I could agree with him, thus reverse jinxing Canada to victory as I did earlier today with the United States. Best I could find was a Norwegian who’s pretty sure Elvis is still alive. Close enough?
19:22 Perhaps unsurprisingly, the atmosphere tonight is much less electric, at least at the outset, than for Canada-Russia. A few seats still empty as the puck drops. Crowd just a tad muted. Solution: Maybe play a little Flock of Seagulls?
18:41 Great early high-energy shifts from Toews and Crosby.
16:58 List of guys who’ve surprised me this tournament, in order of quality of play: 1. Shea Weber. 2. Jonathan Toews. 3. Duncan Keith. List of favourite Facts of Life characters, in order of quality of hair: 1. Blair. 2. Blair. 3. (tie) Mrs. Garrett/Blair.
15:15 Iginla is levelled by Chara, who would be very far down anyone’s list of preferred levellers. Meanwhile, it feels like Crosby has been reading his press clippings about being underwhelming during the Russia game. He is flying.
12:49 Getzlaf wants so badly to hit someone that he just slammed himself into the boards. Take that, me!
10:40 Brent Seabrook seems to have lost a lot of confidence. He’s waiting too long to shoot, almost as though he’s second-guessing the decision. I forget: is it the captain’s or the assistant captain’s duty to give reassuring hugs?
8:26 I promise I’ll stop going on about my awesome new boyfriend Jonathan Toews, but did you see that shift? Great steal in the offensive zone, good job of hustling back, gets the puck again and fires an awesome pass to Richards that almost leads to a goal. You heard it here first: He’s a lock for Prom King.
6:30 He shoots, he eventually scores! (A nice tip-in by Marleau off a Weber wrister). 1-0 Canada.
4:43 A great screen by Brenden Morrow pays off as he nets Canada’s second tip-in goal off a soft wrist shot from the point, this one from Chris “Hey Guys, Wait Up!” Pronger. 2-0 Canada.
3:18 Scoreboard shows two glum Slovakian fans. Even when they realize they’re on the big screen, they can’t force themselves to pretend they’re happy. They must have just checked the program and realized Ziggy Palffy is on their second line.
1:33 Bruce Arthur of the National Post and I were just debating when the Slovaks had their last good scoring chance. Consensus: against Sweden.
0:00 Good hustle. Good goals. Good lead. And nobody tripped over the Champagne bottles and cigar butts at centre ice. All in all, a good period.
20:00 I mentioned this during the U.S.-Finland live blog, but it bears repeating – because our national unity may be at stake. In the men’s washroom, where so many great and terrifying discoveries are made, I came across a sign that lists the official sponsors for the Winter Games. One category is for Contributing Provinces and Territories. Every province and territory is listed there. Every province and territory except for… New Brunswick. What gives, New Brunswick? Why do you hate Olympians, and Canada, and our troops, and puppies? I’m assuming everyone in New Brunswick is glued to the TV right now – watching Ghost Whisperer. New Brunswick: Not a province!
19:03 I’m trying to discern the Slovakian game plan: Right now it reminds me of when I’d take the doubles from my hockey card collection, walk out into the school field, throw them up in the air and yell, “Scramble!”
18:31 Doughty takes a hooking penalty. In other news, Team Canada coach Mike Babock reminds me of the James Spader character from Pretty in Pink. He may actually be the James Spader character from Pretty in Pink. I bet if I went back to his hotel room, the closet would be full of white linen blazers.
13:52 Chara takes a penalty for “doing what Zdeno Chara does.” (I think that one is actually in the rule book now.)
10:34 Both the crowd and the players seem just a little hesitant right now. It’s really quiet in here. And Team Canada seems more concerned with not surrendering turnover opportunities, instead of with pushing the play against the Slovaks. Also: several of the people in the arena who’ve appeared on the scoreboard appear to be wearing fake moustaches. Is there a fake-moustache fad I’m not aware of? Within the context of this fad, are fake handlebar moustaches considered “cool?” (Asking for a friend.)
7:24 Roberto Luongo has some free time. Anyone have any chores they need done in the kitchen? (Wait, he just went to the bench during the TV timeout to get a fresh sudoku sheet.)
5:14 The Crosby line is moving the puck really well tonight. And Nash is playing hard. If only Stills would pick up his game and start contributing.
3:06 Right after a penalty call to Zednik for holding the stick (fellas, we all do it), Getzlaf backhands home a rebound. 3-0 Canada.
1:55 The Slovaks finally get a scoring chance, but are so unfamiliar with the Canadian end that the whole thing slips away while they’re checking Google Maps.
0:47 Nash levels a player at the Canadian blueline. Just levels him. Unfortunately, it’s Brenden Morrow.
0:00 A three-goal lead. It would be wrong to count chickens just yet. But it’s a large enough margin that you should begin to invite them inside and line them up (makes it easier). UPDATE: I have just been informed that the “chickens” expression is a proverb. That chicken farmer was lying.
20:00 As this game began, my insides went through quite a progression: first unsettled, then highly unsettled, then John Hurt in Alien. Right now, though, I’m pretty much just hungry. True story.
19:21 During the intermission, they showed a bunch of Olympic highlights on the scoreboard – in super slo-mo! Question: If the asses of the world’s most elite athletes quake that much during physical activity, what hope is there for the rest of us?
16:05 Good news: so long as Team Slovakia doesn’t put on any sudden burst of pressure, Luongo is now better than 50-50 to finish weaving that macrame owl before the horn goes.
14:17 The precise time at which the first chant of “We Want USA!” goes up. Does nobody care what I want? (Hamburger)
11:07 I’m pretty sure I’m not the coach of the Slovakia team, but if I were I might direct my team to begin taking some risks in an effort to, say, get the puck over centre ice. That’s step one in attempting to score an actual goal. (We’ll cover step two, Crossing the Blueline, during next week’s class.)
9:49 The U.S. is in. Canada is poised to join them. That sound you just heard was a throng of international scalpers wetting themselves. (Yes, when that many do it at one time, it makes a noise, okay?)
8:25 With Morrow about to be called for a penalty, Luongo lets in a softie from behind the goal line. 3-1 Canada. Cue two days of goaltendery angst among commentators!
6:42 Canada has really drifted aimlessly through this period. They’re like the last three seasons of X-Files.
4:53 Less than five minutes to go and Slovakia scores again. 3-2 Canada. Has Cheryl Bernard taken over calling the shots on this team? (Just looking at the reply now: How many puck battles can Canada lose on one play? Answer: All of them.)
2:44 Slovaks suddenly controlling the play completely. Having turned it off, Canada can’t seem to turn it back on. (Same thing happened to Stephen Harper with his charisma in 1973.)
2:20 I like how Niedermayer didn’t even try to stop himself from knocking the net off. Savvy. (And ouchy.)
1:28 Dan Boyle, national hero. Kids, all you kids out there, that is how you hustle.
0:00 That last minute of the game: There hasn’t been chaos like that since The Who visited Cincinnati. My heart actually jumped, at which point I realized that it was bouncing on the desk in front of me. How did that get out there? The buzzer sounds and the crowd chants: “We want USA!” Speaking only for myself, “I want a drink.”
Folks: we are 39 hours away from the gold medal game: Canada v. United States. Anyone up for 39 hours of round-the-clock TV, radio, print and Internet punditry on the topic of WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED???