Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Ah, the ages-old USA versus Canada hockey rivalry. Sure, people are more into it north of the border and in the upper midwest and the Great Lakes states, but dammit, we here at Sports and B's care about it, along with Jeff at Leone for Third.

Once again, I had the CBC coverage. I think it was Brian Williams (I'm probably wrong) and Sean Burke doing the studio duties for the morning game, and tonight it was Ron McLean, Brian Burke, and Kelly Hrudey. Sean Burke is more than solid for the early games. Needless to say, Don Cherry apparently is on vacation, so no Coach's Corner after 20.

Did anyone else think that ESPN's main over-the-ice camera was REALLY fuzzy tonight? I remember about five years or so ago, the CBC came over here on cable really fuzzy, and I just thought it was weird that the tables turned tonight.

Presea, the Rambling Hockey Fangirl, provided the explanation to Canada's goldenroddish (check your 64-crayon Crayola box) sweaters tonight in the comment boxes from one of Jeremy's posts, having to do with the Winnipeg Falcons being the first team to win an Olympic gold medal in hockey. The jerseys tripped me out because of, well, the color. Never do I imagine Canada having yellow on their uniforms. Secondly, the placement of "CANADA" on the back nameplates of all the jerseys, a la the PLU "LUTES" football jerseys. This screwed me up all night, especially since I'm not used to the numbers that a lot of the Canadians were wearing. Joe Sakic wearing 91? Yep, not used to that at all. At least the lone Canuck on the team was wearing his familiar number 55.

Okay, to the game. I just scrawled down some notes and stuff, nothing much.

Team USA started out quite slow. As Jeremy said in the post below this one, the only reason the USA stayed close was because of Robert Esche. Canada peppered Esche with 19 shots in the period, compared to Marty Brodeur in the other net facing only six. Martin St. Louis was fed by Joe Thornton and Scott Niedermayer on a power-play goal late in the period. There was definitely some physical play and some "friendly" words exchanged between the sides, as even ex-Coyote teammates Shane Doan and Keith Thachuk were doing some sparring. Of course, as a Canuck fan, I was somewhat disheartened to see Ed Jovanovski have to leave the game after Eric Weinrich sort of landed on top of him. I don't have any details on the injury, and Team Canada would probably say "lower body injury" anyway, but it definitely involved twisting. Jovo was on his hands and knees on the ice for what seemed like two or three minutes before being helped to the dressing room. He was to undergo an MRI.

Joe Sakic scored early in the period on a screened shot from two feet inside the blueline that was redirected twice (at least once by a skate). Needless to say, Esche didn't have a chance. Kelly Hrudey mentioned later that Esche has some issues with letting long shots in, and if I studied up on this, I could probably point to past incidences. My memory involving long shots: I remember listening to a Canuck game late last season where Dan Cloutier almost let a 100-footer get past him. Yikes.

The period was full of skirmishes and scuffles. Doan leveled Scott Gomez, but Doan didn't get far before being cross-checked by Chris Chelios. Later in the period, Steve Konowalchuk plowed into Brodeur and quite a few mini-melees broke out. Brodeur pulled Konowalchuk down right after getting plowed, then Mario Lemieux went after him. Jeff Halpern and Rob Niedermayer got into it, though Wayne Gretzky doesn't really want Niedermayer to be one who fights, or one who gets picked into fights. Also, Jarome Iginla and Keith Tkachuk got into it.

As for scoring chances I have written down, Tkachuk had the top shelf wide open with Brodeur going low to the ice, but Tkachuk didn't get enough air on the shot. Adam Foote shot one from 58 feet that went off a defenseman's stick and hit the post on Esche's stick side, which is probably what I was thinking of when I referenced Kelly Hrudey back there.

The Statesiders did manage to tally in the period, thanks to good ol' hard work in the corner by Scott Gomez, and his pass to a waiting Bill Guerin, who went high to the glove side on Brodeur.

I don't really have much written down for the 3rd. I do have that Brenden Morrow had a rush and was trying to find a passing lane on the breakaway, but couldn't. Then he decided a little too late that he was going to shoot. No dice.

Then the CBC guys told me something I'd forgotten about. Craig Conroy is now a Los Angeles King, which left me to wonder...who's going to take faceoffs for Calgary? I swear, every time the Canucks faced Calgary, Conroy took an absolutely huge percentage of faceoffs for them (the number 70% comes to mind).

It was bad enough news for me to know that Jovanovski had to go get an MRI, but it might be worse for the USA because apparently it didn't take long for Mike Modano to appear in street clothes. Not good.

CBC's three stars: Martin St. Louis, Robert Esche, Martin Brodeur

Overall, I'm just glad I got to see a better game than the first two Cup games, which were incredibly lopsided and bland. This one actually held my attention, which I couldn't say for when the Czechs got pasted two days ago, and when the Germans got worked this morning. Oh well. Yeah, it's totally the Finns and Swedes (advantage: Swedes) in the European Division, no doubt about it. Also, none of those games had actual skirmishes or roughing like this one.

Yes, it's the Czechs and Swedes tomorrow morning, and the Slovaks (or is it Slovakians?) and Canadians in the afternoon.

[Edit ~1:58p -- After presenting myself with photographic evidence, I think it was probably Scott Oake and not Brian Williams in the studio for the morning game.]

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