Tuesday, September 07, 2004


[VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: This post was ready to go at 7:30pm last night, and Jeremy's post below regarding Ichiro was ready around 6pm last night. They are finally being published today (Wednesday) around 4:40pm. Who to thank for this? Blogger, of course. I know the hosting is free and everything, but I kept trying from last night to this morning at 9:30 before I left for work and the damn thing wouldn't publish. Basically, as you read these posts, imagine yourself wherever you were the night before.]

Before I get to the USA/Russia game, I must say that this morning's matchup between the Czech Republic and Sweden was not recapped by me because, well, it was my first day on the job again at ye olde electric warehouse that I've worked at for parts of the past three summers. I haven't seen much more than a linescore and a short clip, but I know that the Czechs won 6-1, Milan Hejduk scored twice, and Brian Burke thinks that the Swedes just lost confidence in their goaltending, and the roof fell in. As a result, it's the Czechs and the Finns in the European final, and one could argue that the Finns were one tip-in (Mikko Eloranta) from being upset by Germany.

But now, today's game. The Russians skated circles around the USA the first time, only being kept in the game by the stellar play of Robert Esche in net. Though Rick DiPietro netted the USA's only win (against the Slovaks), but coach Ron Wilson put Esche back out there tonight, and scratched Brett Hull once again. Yikes. Ilya Bryzgalov was in net again for the Russians.

Once again, times are approximate.

18:12 Aaron Miller was stopped from the right point
16:37 Viktor Kozlov (I'd had him confused with Vyacheslav in earlier posts) had his shot from the right circle meet the pads of Esche
15:57 Bryzgalov put his chest on a Keith Tkachuk breakaway shot from the right side. Don't worry about Tkachuk, he'd have a decent night
12:15 Bryzgalov stopped a bad-angle shot from the right circle by Brian Smolinski
**8:40 Mike Modano rifled a shot from the blue line which was redirected in front and into the net by Keith Tkachuk (USA 1-0)
5:08 Alexei Kovalev misfires from in close on the right side
3:06 Pavel Datsyuk misses from about 10 feet on the right side
1:34 Chris Chelios hooks Alexei Yashin on a breakaway
0:06 A flurry by the Russians yields a lump of coal. Esche chest-stopped a shot by Ilya Kovalchuk and gloved Daniel Zubrus' shot off the rebound

Russia outshot the USA 7-5 in the first period. The crew praised the early play of Tkachuk, and noticed that a bunch of people were fanning on the puck.

**18:04 Bill Guerin made a key pass from the end boards to Tkachuk in front of the net. He easily buried the shot from the right side (USA 2-0)
16:46 Chelios was unsuccessful from the right circle
16:01 With Russia shorthanded, Yashin's shot went off a skate, and Alexander Frolov smacked the puck out of the air and into the net. Problem? It was a high stick. Goal waved off
13:37 Esche made a blocker save on Yashin's shot from just beyond the circles
**12:46 Dmitry Afanosenkov took a pass from Artem Chubarov (Canuck) and beat Esche on the stick side from the faceoff dot (USA 2-1)
12:05 Chris Drury was stopped from the right circle
11:50 Jason Blake had a penalty shot. He tried to go five-hole on Bryzgalov, but the hole closed, and the shot hit Bryzgalov in the chest
11:45 Another chest stop for Bryzgalov, this time on Jamie Langenbrunner
10:10 Doug Weight was about a foot away from the net, but he couldn't squirt the puck through. Bryzgalov put a pad save on the shot and smothered the puck
9:40 A loose puck was covered by Bryzgalov
9:03 A redirection by Kovalchuk was stopped by Esche

At this point, the hard hits and checks were getting a little more plentiful as the level of physical play stepped up in the game.

6:13 Bryzgalov put the chest on a shot by Scott Gomez from beyond the circles
4:32 With the Russians shorthanded, Daniel Zubrus put a shot toward Esche, who put the stick on it
1:54 Alexander Frolov was stopped by the pads from the left side

After two periods, the USA outshot Russia 14-13.

**19:24 The USA gave away the puck near their own blue line, and Russia was on a 3-on-1 breakaway. Daniel Zubrus would beat Esche high to the glove side to tie the game and make it verrrrrrry interesting (2-2)
17:47 Weight's backhand shot was steered away
**15:35 Tkachuk jumped on a turnover, and his shot went off Alexander Khavanov's stick and in the air to Gomez, who potted his shot from the left circle to put the USA back in the lead (USA 3-2)
**15:13 A nice cross-ice pass from Bill Guerin enabled Tkachuk to beat Bryzgalov to the glove side (USA 4-2)
13:58 Esche madde a big stop on Kozlov
9:13 Esche made a left pad save on Kozlov's shot from the left side
**8:56 Kovalchuk on the one-timer from Sergei Samsonov put a puck under the pad stack of Esche to bring the Russians back within one (USA 4-3)
8:32 Kozlov was once again stopped from the left side
6:50 Esche came up huge again, this time on Kovalchuk
**0:55 The Russians pulled Bryzgalov for an extra attacker, but they couldn't keep the puck out of their zone. In swoops Thachuk for goal number four (USA 5-3). A golden sombrero for Keith Tkachuk in the best individual performance so far in the tournament
0:30 Bryzgalov put a belly save on Weight, but the game was over

CBC's three stars: Keith Tkachuk, Mike Modano, Alexei Kovalev

Total aside: has anyone else noticed that the backs of the Russian and German jerseys looked a lot like the backs of the San Jose Sharks' jerseys, except just switching the colors? The numbers look the same, and the nameplates look the same, though I think the Sharks do the semicircle thing with their names. Other completely unrelated backs-of-uniforms note, the pre-Juicebox Houston Astros had uniforms where the numbers and names on the back that looked exactly like what the Sonics that went to the NBA Finals against the Bulls had. I told you it was unrelated, so don't scoff.

The European final is set. It's (3) Czech Republic against (1) Finland. It's been said that the Czechs might have been lying in the weeds and waiting until the elimination round to strike, but even with Sweden's inept goaltending, I didn't think they'd put up six goals. Craziness.

The North American final will be (3) United States against (4) Slovakia or (1) Canada. Canada might go up in a ball of flame if they don't beat the Slovaks tomorrow night.

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