Tuesday, September 20, 2016

They Can't all be classics ...

The hockey on Tuesday wasn't pretty,
but the results came as expected
Tuesday delivered a double dose of less than breath taking hockey, with Team Sweden disposing of their rivals the Finns with little concern, while the highly anticipated match up of USA/Canada did not deliver quite the same level of firewagon hockey that the pre game bombast had suggested might be found.

The early game played out almost as though an after though to the day's prime time match up, the pre game oxgen was completely taken by talk of the US and Canadian game for later in the night.

Unless you had your schedule handy, you might not even have realized that there was an afternoon game.

As the Swedes and Finns got their play got rolling, only one team appeared to have received the memo that it was a key game for future plans in the tournament.

Team Sweden with Henrik Lundqvist back in the nets played a solid system game, taking their energy from their goaltenders 36 saves along the way to the 2-0 victory, the second marker an empty net goal to banish any further thoughts the Finns might have had of pushing the Swedes to overtime.

The thing with a European system style hockey game is that when a team has a 1-0 lead,  you can actually see the game be drained of any real offence, calling to mind the old Simpson's episode on soccer,  pass, pass, pass, pass .... pass, pass, pass.

The Finns once again struggled when it came to their scoring touch, Patrik Laine while getting a few chances could not find the finish required to give the Finns some momentum. At times it appeared that he was the only one moving his legs in a blue and white uniform, the remainder of his team mates giving every indication of not wanting to take any chances, lest they make a tourney ending mistake.

A strategy that while reducing the risk, never, ever seems to deliver a reward.

The Finns did provide for a final minute push, with Laine set up for what would have been perhaps a tournament changing goal, instead his stick shattered, much like the hopes the Finns might have entertained for advancing.

The path for advancement looks beyond hope now, the next game for Finland is against the suddenly rejuvenated Russians on Thursday, who have finally given their own indications that they might just want to stick around for the playoff round.

The Swedes next play the youngsters of Team North America on Wednesday afternoon, making for another strong test for the young guns who will be looking to take care of their collapse in period two of the Russian game.  Wednesday's afternoon showdown, makes for a battle for First place in Group B, with Goal Differential perhaps something to watch for as the sixty minutes count down.

For the Prime Time Show on Tuesady, the hype for the Canada/US game was such that some of the epic past battles between the two border nations were being channeled, with some suggestions that Tuesday might be one more for the memory book, leaving visions of a Gold medal game from the Vancouver Olympics dancing in many a head.

And for a few minutes in the first period, it did look like the USA was going to live up to their pre game bombast of the game being their championship match up, coming out with some early energy and grabbing the first marker on the night of the stick of , a lone American goal that would not be matched until very late in the third, the second one benefiting more from some lazy play by the Canadians than any dedicated plan of attack.

Canada quickly stomped on the US insurrection, with Matt Duchene making some noise collecting two goals for the Red and White, Corey Perry had one other, while Patrice Bergeron closed off the scoring on the night for the team with the Maple Leaf on its chest.

Carey Price outplayed his US counterpart Jonathon Quick, with the Montreal Canadiens goaltender stopping 32 saves, though he at times, like his team mates show some signs of losing focus in the third.

The game had turned into a rather plodding affair by that time, the Canadians mainly playing to the clock, waiting for it to wind down and offer the reward of two more points.

And while they didn't look dis-interested in the game, the vibe for much of the second period and first ten minutes of the third was one of a mid-season NHL game, there was little energy and even less inclination to turn up the offensive speed.

The Americans did break some of that lethargic play with one final push in a period when it would count for their tournament hopes, ringing three shots off a post and forcing a few turnovers in the Canadian end to gain some scoring chances all in the final ten minutes or so of the final period.

Price though would shut them down whenever it looked like they were about to make a run,  T. J. Oshie reduced the margin with a goal with less than three minutes to play.

The loss eliminated the US team, offering up a final game on Thursday with the Czech Republic, another team that doesn't have much more to do in Toronto now but pack their bags and move on.

The Canadian play wasn't quite the thing of the burning down of the White House of 1812, but the play of the Americans has certainly lit a fire ... under the chairs of the American hockey press who quickly were grabbing the torches and heading the way of John Tortorella.

Even before the final whistle had blown (and truth be told as far back as game one) reporters, announcers and pundits alike wasted little time in performing the autopsy of the American play at the World Cup of Hockey.

And if the court of hockey opinion is to see deliver its judgment, GM Dean Lombardi and coach John Torotrella would seem destined for a post tourney inquisition.

You can review some of that heated discussion, along with the game summaries from Tuesday's action as part of Game Day Archive.

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