LIVE BLOG men's hockey: U.S. 6, Finland 1 (F)

On the line: a shot at gold, Jerry!

I met a Finnish guy last night at the bar at the Hotel Vancouver (I’m not staying there; I just like to stop by every now and then to stare at cashmere). The Finnish guy predicted a win for Finland in today’s men’s hockey semi-final. I’d had a few drinks so, what the hell, I agreed Finland was a mortal lock – and you don’t go back on that kind of a solemn commitment. I’m calling it: a Finland victory.

The game, assuming they decided to play it out anyway, begins at noon PT.

Twenty minutes til puck drop: Finland will be skating from left to right on your computer screen. Finland is in white, the U.S. is in blue and the crowd is in… red.

Breaking news: There are six players on the U.S. team named Ryan, and another with the surname Ryan. Seven Ryans. The best the Finns can do is two Jarkkos, two Samis, one Miikka and one Mikko. Not a good omen, Finland.

First Period

20:00 Canada Hockey Place is still filling up as the puck drops. Not especially raucous, but the bulk of the crowd is rooting for the United States – especially scalpers holding gold medal tickets and dreams of a Canada-U.S. final.

18:30 Pretty clear the Finnish coaches saw the U.S. standing around an awful lot against the Swiss and have instructed their team to push the pace. Finns are hard on the forecheck.

17:56 Kiprusoff, meanwhile, must have been watching tape of Martin Brodeur handling the puck. He passes directly to Ryan Malone, and it’s 1-0 U.S. (Like I feared – a Ryan!)

14:10 While Toews prospers on Team Canada and has been promoted to a line with Rick Nash, his Chicago teammate Patrick Kane has been knocked off the big line with Parise. He’s having a tougher Olympics than those of us forced to endure those Clara Hughes Cold-FX ads.

13:55 That cheap goal by the Americans seems to have discombobulated the Finns. They suddenly have very little bobulation. And now Niskala takes a penalty for interference.

13:38 Power play goal Parise: 2-0 U.S. Bad defensive coverage by the Finns on the penalty kill. The U.S. isn’t dominating the game, but they’re dominating the part of the game that matters (ie. those numbers up there). And now a frustration penalty on Lydman, who checks an American forward into the boards from behind.

11:24 Powerplay goal by Johnson: 3-0 U.S. Kiprusoff on his knees and out of position. The Finns looked completely disorganized on that penalty kill, prompting a timeout by Team Finland and chants of “USA! USA!” in the crowd. Meanwhile, scalpers rub their bellies in delight (I imagine).

10:08 The revised Finnish gameplan now seems to consists of making meek, half-hearted attempts at body contact. Memo to Finland: I tried this on girls during  high school parties and it never works!

9:52 Kane scores on another complete defensive breakdown by Finland: 4-0 U.S. Three guys standing there watching him score. Welcome to the game, goalie Niklas Backstrom. (Not that it matters, but the Finnish guy I spoke to in the bar last night was distressed about Kiprusoff. Was desperate for the Finns to start Backstrom.)

7:29 Another goal for Kane, this one on an odd-man rush brought to you by “We’re Down Four Goals and I’d Like to Go Home Now” – the new slogan of the Finnish national team. And before I can even finish typing, it’s 6-0 – Stastny. The Finland coach has already called his timeout. Time to pull the fire alarm.

6:42 Let it be told by future generations of hockey historians that on this day, at this precise time, Olli Jokinen of Team Finland actually checked an American player into the boards. And there was much rejoicing. (Yay.)

4:19 Sometimes I wish the IOC was still as transparently corrupt as it used to be. Those guys would have thought nothing about shutting this game down, giving the U.S. the win and bringing in some broomballers to entertain us for the next two hours.

2:21 How do you say “phoning it in” in Finnish. Oh, wait, I found it: Selanne.

0:38 I’m not saying this period was one-sided, but Jacques Rogge just took back what he said about women’s hockey.

0:00 I haven’t been this happy to hear a buzzer since Angelina Jolie showed up at my front door with a flat tire. (This hasn’t actually happened, and if Mika Kiprusoff succeeds in making a time machine from my ethernet cable and this Snickers bar, then this first period won’t have happened either).

Second Period

20:00 Consensus in the men’s room during the intermission: Finland had a very good first 30 seconds.

19:44 Liveblogging (or, as Chris calls it in the comments below, Fake Liveblogging That Isn’t Actually Liveblogging, Stupidheads!) may be more sporadic in the coming two periods owing to reasons that contained in the new edition of Duh: The Magazine. Also, there’s that nap I feel coming on. But I’ll be back full force when this sucker goes to overtime!

17:47 Guergis… Guergis…. That’s Finnish, right? Just saying these Team Finland guys could use a little “talking-to” in the locker room during the next intermission.

14:26 You’ve heard of the “dump and chase.” Watch the Americans now and you can witness the “Dump and wait patiently, then start skating backwards.”

12:08 The last time there was a crowd this silent, Stone Temple Pilots had just asked if people wanted to hear an encore.

9:52 A bad period for hockey, but a good period for science, which can use the footage to kill lab animals even less humanely.

5:12 Thoughts that cross your mind during this type of a game: Does Jacob really need to act so cryptically in his dealings with Jack? And why doesn’t anyone on the island talk about the fact that Sayid might not have died (temporarily) if they’d brought him to the temple right away instead of pausing for 40 minutes of exposition and heartfelt emotional exchanges while he was bleeding out in the back of the van?

3:40 Put your hands up in the air. Put your hands up. In the air. Put your hands up in the air. Put your hands up. In the air.

1:17 I’m not saying the Americans are laying back and saving their energy for the gold medal game, but Ryan Suter just blocked a Finnish shot with a parasol.

0:00 That period was electric. By which I mean I could hear the arena lights humming.

Third Period

20:00 Loudest cheer of the past hour: for a scoreboard interview with Vince Vaughn. Vancouver? Great city. Vancouverites? Great people. You’re now up to date.

19:44 During the intermission, I came across a sign that listed all the official sponsors for the Winter Games. One category was for Supporting Provinces and Territories. Every province and territory was listed there. Every province and territory except for… New Brunswick. What gives, New Brunswick?? Maybe if New Brunswick didn’t pony up, New Brunswick shouldn’t get to watch a certain hockey game tonight.

18:12 Rest easy, Team Canada fans. I have it on good authority from the arena sound system that “Tonight’s gonna be a good night, that tonight’s gonna be a good night, that tonight’s gonna be a good, good night.” You go ahead and P-p-p-party everyday.

16:04 You know what would make this game more interesting? Killer whale.

15:44 As a patriotic Canadian, I’m thinking of paying Jarkko Ruutu $20 to shiv Ryan Miller. Good idea?

15:12 Wait – is shivving still tax deductible?

12:02 The U.S. defence is getting a little sloppy (understandably) which means Miller is getting more shots, which means Miller is making more saves. The guy is always exactly where he needs to be. Idea No. 1: Extend Canadian citizenship to him tomorrow. Idea No. 2: Extend a lead pipe to his femur tomorrow.

10:30 With a little more than 10 minutes to go, Tim Thomas replaces Ryan Miller in net for the American side. Also with a little more than 10 minutes to go, tedium replaces ennui as the prevailing sentiment in the crowd.

8:41 U.S. forward Bobby Ryan takes a puck to the side of the head. That puck was meant for the side of Ryan Miller’s head, dammit! Wrong Ryan! Reload!

5:14 On a powerplay, Finland finally scores: Miettinen with a shot that deflects off an American defender. Now all they need to do to get back into this thing is change centuries of numerical convention so that 6 becomes 2.

0:00 Cheers from one end of the rink: “We want Canada!” A very impressive performance from the Americans. A historic stinker for the Finns. A happy dance for scalpers. Finland completely fell apart after the first two U.S. goals. For all the veteran presence on the team, no one was able to rally the players. The U.S. team will be playing for gold on Sunday afternoon. And they’ll be coming in with momentum.

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