Tuesday, September 14, 2004


[Edit 21 Jan 2004 -- I used to have the archive of the World Cup tournament posts below the post of the final game, but I decided I'd move the archive above the final game, since I do have the archive permanently linked to the sidebar. So, if you want the Finland/Canada final, it is now located below the archive.]

Here is the archive of the games for which I scrawled together some recaps...

>>Pool play
30 Aug
Finland 4, Czech Republic 0 from Helsinki

31 Aug
Sweden 5, Germany 2 from Stockholm
Canada 2, United States 1 from Montreal

1 Sep
Sweden 4, Czech Republic 3 from Stockholm
Canada 5, Slovakia 1 from Montreal

2 Sep
Finland 3, Germany 0 from Cologne
Russia 3, United States 1 from Saint Paul

3 Sep
Czech Republic 7, Germany 2 from Prague
United States 3, Slovakia 1 from Saint Paul

4 Sep
Finland 4, Sweden 4 (OT) from Helsinki (outside recap)
Canada 3, Russia 1 from Toronto

5 Sep
Russia 5, Slovakia 2 from Toronto

>> Quarterfinals
6 Sep
Finland 2, Germany 1 from Helsinki

7 Sep
Czech Republic 6, Sweden 1 from Stockholm (outside recap)
United States 5, Russia 3 from Saint Paul

8 Sep
Canada 5, Slovakia 0 from Toronto (my short piece) (outside recap)

>> Semifinals
10 Sep
Finland 2, United States 1 from Saint Paul

11 Sep
Canada 4, Czech Republic 3 (OT) from Toronto

>> Final
14 Sep
Canada 3, Finland 2 from Toronto (or you could just scroll downward because that recap is right after the dotted lines)

Let it be said that the best team won the World Cup of Hockey this year. Canada was absolutely stacked before they had the rash of injuries, mainly to their blueline, and they were stacked afterward. Only this team could lose people like Steve Yzerman, Chris Pronger, Rob Blake, et al., and plug in people like Shane Doan, Jay Bouwmeester, Scott Hannan, and others. Also with this Canadian team, you had some players taking roles they weren't used to, i.e., Joe Thornton on a checking line with Shane Doan and Kris Draper (DDT line). All said, Canada came away tonight with a 3-2 victory to nab the World Cup in a good game, not a game as thrilling as the Czech Republic/Canada semifinal, but a good game nonetheless.

On to what happened.

The CBC telecast's opening montage featured a highlight package set to the tune of Moby's "We Are All Made of Stars." The final tournament-spanning montage had highlights set to "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears.

The scariest, most nightmare-inducing anthem singer alive, Robert Pomakov, sang the Finnish national anthem. He's actually really good, just haunting. Canadian singer Sass Jordan sang "O Canada."

[picture of Robert Pomakov found by user Darkside, who linked this post at a Finnish message board.]

Bob Cole and (I think) Greg Millen did the game from the booth.

After sitting one game to let his left (glove) wrist heal, Martin Brodeur took the net once again for Canada. Niklas Hagman dressed for the Finns in the game, and Ville Nieminen was scratched, and quite upset about it. Coach Raimo Summanen liked Hagman's speed, but what he didn't say (but what everyone probably thought) was that he didn't want Nieminen flying everywhere with high elbows and committing dumb penalties in crucial situations.

For this final recap, the same things apply as they did with all the others. Times are approximate.

**19:08 It didn't take long, as a Finnish defenseman failed to pokecheck Mario Lemieux heading across the blue line. Lemieux passed across to Joe Sakic in the right circle, who beat Kiprusoff to get the Canadians the early lead (CAN 1-0)
18:08 I didn't get the shooters' names, but Brodeur made two great saves off a shot and rebound in quick succession
16:02 Martin St. Louis was tripped up (no call) on a scoring chance
15:02 Lemieux batted an airborne puck toward the net and Kiprusoff made a huge stop
14:02 Thornton made some fancy moves fighting around checks along the end boards and nearly poked one in on the left side
**13:26 Collisions at the blue line involving Canadians helped the Finns tie the game. Toni Lydman fired a shot from the blue line, which was tipped twice before it went through Brodeur. Aki Berg tipped it first and Riku Hahl got credit for the goal by being the final tipper (1-1)
12:37 Jarome Iginla didn't get much juice on a one-timer from Lemieux, and the shot was easily gloved

A big gap in the time span here corresponds with the Finns executing a massive forechecking operation and slowing the pace of the game way down. Trapping and clogging the neutral zone were prominently involved.

5:23 Kiprusoff smothers and Iginla shot in close; another weak shot, this time due to Olli Jokinen tying up Iginla's stick
4:16 Dany Heatley's shot from the right side was stopped by Kiprusoff's glove and the right post
2:57 On a Canada power play, Brodeur fended away a shot off the draw
0:08 Iginla was checked in front before he could get the stick down on a centering pass

Canada outshot the Finns 9-7 in the first period. Vincent Lecavalier's play drew raves from all of the crew (Ron McLean, Brian Burke, Kelly Hrudey) at the break. As mentioned, Canada had the pace of the game to their liking for much of the first half of the period, whereas the Finns used forechecking and defensive schemes to slow the game way down and try to take away any type of flow from the Canadian team.

18:28 Tuomo Ruutu missed the net in close
**16:45 Kiprusoff let in a soft goal. Scott Niedermayer shot from the left hash marks on a 4-on-2. The shot went five-hole, and it was partially stopped by Kiprusoff's pads, but it was merely slowed down as it crawled into the open net (CAN 2-1)
13:44 Simon Gagne was stopped from the left circle on a rush
11:08 Hagman was stopped by Brodeur's pads, and the Canadians got away with a trip on the play
9:56 Thornton was foiled from the left on a wraparound attempt
5:52 Once again, I didn't get the shooters' names, but the two saves that Brodeur made in a short amount of time were quite awesome
4:23 Thanks to a bad line change by the Finns, Iginla was given a good scoring chance, but was stopped close on the right side
2:37 Kiprusoff made two quick stops, the second of which was on Doan in close
1:34 Niedermayer had his shot from the left point stopped by the pads
**1:00 Tuomo Ruutu pulled off some very nifty moves in a 1-on-3 situation. The defenders all went for the puck and missed, and Tuomo beat Brodeur high to the glove side to tie the game once again (2-2)

Shots were 12 apiece in the period, with Canada ahead 21-19 through two periods in that department.

Canada was probably a bit tense thanks to the late goal by the Finns. Early and late goals in periods never go over too well with the teams not getting them, as I've found out. The talk during the intermission was mostly about the points of a basic collective bargaining agreement that analyst (and former Canuck GM) Brian Burke drew up. There may or may not be slight leanings, considering Burke was working in the league offices in 1994 when the last stoppage happened, but the ideas of a payroll threshold (which might sound a lot like "salary cap") combined with a minimum payroll seemed like something I hadn't heard of yet. If there's one thing I didn't mind out of what Burke laid out, it's probably the capping of rookie signing bonuses at $250k. Burke also would like to see a drop-dead date for player signings, a la the NFL. Anyway, instead of repeating the whole thing here, click on the link if you want to read more.

**19:26 The early goal strikes again. Only 36 seconds after the puck dropped, Thornton made a nice pass behind the boards to a wide-open Doan, who was behind the defenders in front of the net, and easily beat Kiprusoff to the glove side (CAN 3-2)
16:37 Kiprusoff put the blocker on a shot from the left side. The commentators were starting to think he looked a bit shaky in net
16:11 Sakic's backhander from the left side was stopped
12:04 Jere Lehtinen had the Finns' best chance at a tying goal, but Brodeur put the pads on the shot from the left side
11:01 Kiprusoff put the pads on Iginla from the left
10:51 Jokinen was victim to a pad save
6:55 Doan smeared Mikko Eloranta into the end boards
6:26 Kiprusoff gloved a point shot from the right side
4:02 Kimmo Timonen ripped a point shot off the faceoff but Brodeur flashed the leather
3:04 Kiprusoff came up with two quick saves, trying to keep his team within reach
2:50 Kiprusoff made a save with his leg on Brad Richards

What followed was Kiprusoff being pulled for an extra skater, and the Finns just plum running out of time. They had the puck in the Canadian one for about the final 30 seconds or so with the extra skater, and if they had maybe another minute, they might have been able to tie it. But it was not to be.

Joe Sakic and Joe Thornton each had six points apiece in the tournament. Vincent Lecavalier was named the World Cup MVP. He finished one point behind Fredrik Modin (who had 8 points in two less games) of the Swedish team (and the Tampa Bay Lightning) for the scoring lead in the tournament. Martin Brodeur, whose name came out of my mouth immediately after the Toronto PA announcer said "...the World Cup MVP," had 27 saves on the night and was 5-0 in the tournament. For the record, Adam Foote was a plus-7 in the tournament. Martin Havlat (Czech), Bill Guerin (USA), and Eric Brewer (Foote's Canadian teammate) all tied with a plus-6 in tournament play.

Seeing a team win a World Cup in international play was a bit different than seeing a team win the Stanley Cup. For one thing, the World Cup trophy itself looks like some brainchild of Dale Chihuly. Secondly, players tonight weren't taking laps around the ice with quite the euphoria that they would with the Stanley Cup. Needless to say, there were no moments tonight coming anywhere close to Ray Bourque or Dave Andreychuk hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time. That doesn't mean this wasn't important. Canada will be partying a bit tonight. Much of the nation of Finland watched the game start at 1am local time, and many won't be showing up to work the next day. The Finns' victory over Team USA was hailed as the greatest moment in Finnish hockey history, if that gives any hint as to how much Finland loves hockey.

And with the end of this highly entertaining tournament, we are left with the uncertain future of NHL play. A lockout seems imminent, with both sides saying they're not entrenched, when in fact they both really are. Players don't want a salary cap. Owners say they don't want a salary cap, they just want cost certainty. Players say that's a lot like a salary cap. Rinse and repeat.

What else is there left to say? I hope this crap gets straightened out, and sooner rather than later. I've suggested this before, but if NBC is smart (whenever hockey comes back), they could have a gold mine if they find a way to make hockey appealing to the American public. It's a big challenge, sure. I just think they should be hungry to do something. They lost the NFL when CBS got it back. They were lucky enough to get half of the NASCAR season, but they don't have any other major sport (no, I'm not counting Arena Football). They just have some tennis matches, a couple golf tournaments, some Notre Dame football...it's weak. I'm just saying that if they manage to find the same recipe that worked for the NBA on NBC for quite a few years, they could go a long way toward making hockey watchable and respectable stateside.

Oh man, was that a rant? I guess I just don't want the pucks to stop dropping.

That said, to all those that get the CBC, the Making the Cut show will air next Tuesday at 8pm. It's a big, Canada-wide tryout, and six winners get an invite to an NHL training camp for a Canadian team (of which there are six). Scotty Bowman and Mike Keenan are involved. The promos look good, but sadly, I might not even be in town to see the first two episodes.

"Only one team can wear the crown, but the game...she rules." -- Don Cherry

Into the great unknown...

[Edit Wed ~7:46a -- Seeing all the hits from Finland in the referrer log made me think, "do they just want information, or are they complaining in the message board about something?" I convinced myself it was both. I totally forgot to congratulate the Finnish team in any way. They had a great team all tournament long, reminiscent to some of the Calgary Flames in that they were a team that bought into one system and played as a team. Miikka Kiprusoff had a good tournament, even with the soft goal in the final game. Saku Koivu rules. His brother Miko Koivu also looks like an up-and-comer. I thought Toni Lydman had a good tournament as well. Teemu Selanne wasn't in Winnipeg Jet form or anything, but I think he was a little better in the tournament than what we've seen in his NHL play the last couple years. Of course, I'm a bit partial to the Canucks on the team, Sami Salo and Jarkko Ruutu. Of course, the Canucks don't have the more skilled of the Ruutus, and that is Tuomo Ruutu of the Chicago Blackhawks, who had a great tournament. Olli Jokinen of the Florida Panthers also had a great tournament, getting his nose into a lot of plays. The Finns just need a little more depth on the last couple lines and they'll be a juggernaut in international play in the coming years.]

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