Olympic Hockey: Anticipation Peaks With Huge Games On 'Super Sunday'

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Olympic Hockey: Anticipation Peaks With Huge Games On 'Super Sunday'
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Can you feel it? Can you taste it? That palpable anticipation and excitement that is building in Vancouver and is echoing across the hockey world?

It’s growing. And with each minute that passes the anticipation will continue to build on one of the biggest, most important days in international hockey history.

With five hours before the puck drops on what is being called "Super Sunday" at the Vancouver Olympics, the six top hockey powers in the world prepare to clash in three separate games.

Today's games are sure to provide some of the best and most exciting hockey in recent memory as there is no shortage of dramatic and interesting storylines.

The warm-up match will see Russia taking on the Czech Republic, surprisingly sitting in first place in the Group B pool, in a game that will pit the reeling Russians against the surging Czechs.

The Russians, fresh off of their stunning defeat at the hands of the surprising Slovakians and with four points overall, will look to redeem themselves by defeating the streaking Czechs.

A regulation win by Russia will allow them to win their pool, with seven points, one more than the Czechs.

But how is Russia's confidence after the humbling loss to Slovakia? Will they be fragile or will they come out like lions?

The second game of the day is the highlight game of Canada versus the US, in a grudge match from the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. In 2002, Canada defeated the US on their home soil, to win the Olympic gold medal.

This year, however, both the US and Canada have looked a little shaky in their first few games. While the US leads the Group A pool with six points and zero losses, their defense has looked a little suspect at times.

Canada, on the other hand, looked solid in their 8-0 win over Norway, but were exposed by a tenacious Swiss fore-check resulting in a nail-biting shootout victory in their second match.

With five points in two games, Canada needs this win to capture the first seed in their pool.

The big question for Canada right now is who will play with Sidney Crosby? While that would seem like an easy problem to solve given Crosby's high skill level, it has thus far proven to be a bit of a challenge as Canada's coaching staff has been rotating wingers on his line in an attempt to find chemistry.

Will things start to click today versus the US or will Canada fall and suffer a moral as well as physical defeat?

In the final game of "Super Sunday," arch rivals Finland and Sweden will face each other to determine the winner of the Group C pool. With each team having six points in the standings and undefeated records so far, this is sure to be a spectacular game between the two bitter Scandinavian rivals.

Remember, that Sweden defeated Finland to win the gold medal in Turin four years ago. That bitter loss remains etched in the minds of Finnish hockey fans everywhere and, like the US with Canada, they want nothing more than to beat Sweden.

With Finland's Teemu Selanne becoming the highest scoring player in Olympic history, in their 5-0 win over Germany, he is sure to leave it all on the ice tonight.

Peter Forsberg too, who is making a return to the world stage playing for Sweden, is sure to elevate his game making for an outstanding show of skill.

Regardless of our allegiances to one team versus another, the incredible spectacle that we are about to witness will be some of the best competition of this still young Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

Today is bound to be a special day for hockey, whether you are watching the game by yourself, with your family or with friends. I, for one, will be savoring every hit, every goal, and every hero that emerges as the yet unwritten chapters in Olympic hockey history unfold before my eyes.

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