Olympic Hockey: Thoughts So Far

James SheehyCorrespondent IFebruary 21, 2010

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 21:  Drew Doughty #8  in action during the ice hockey men's preliminary game between Canada and USA on day 10 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at Canada Hockey Place on February 21, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The Round Robin play will conclude shortly, and as shocking as it is to those who know me, a few thoughts are beginning to bounce around in my head. Due to the rarity of such an event, I figured it be better to write them down as proof of the occasion. So hope you're ready for some rambling qualities that would make Dennis Miller blush. 

— The field is becoming more level. While I definitely wouldn't pretend there is parity, I would argue that the number of competitive teams is on the rise.

Going into the tournament, the general consensus was that Russia, Canda, and Sweden would dominate, with countries like Finland and the Czech Republic taking steps back.

The games thus far have shown just the opposite. Russia and Canada have been nowhere near the god like expectations placed upon them, and teams like the Czech Republic, Finland, Slovakia, USA, and Belarus have not only been competitive, but have been winning a few as well.

— Canada has had trouble finding chemistry, which is a surprise considering how many of the players have experience with each other.

— Anybody else think it's really cool to see Vladislav Tretiak?

— The Swiss played an extremely physical game, quite unexpectedly, against Canada on Friday, taking the play to the heavy favorites for long stretches in the 3rd period.

Many of the European teams have adapted to the more physical North American game this Olympics.

— Canada's commercials have been better than the US's were in 2002. The Tim Horton's commercial is my favorite so far.

— This was supposed to be Sydney Crosby's international coming out party, and though he has played well, the player that has stood out for me from Canada has been Drew Doughty.

The 20 year old, who was somewhat of a surprise pick for the team, has been absolutely phenomenal.

Not only has he at no point looked remotely out of place or nervous, I would argue that he has been Canada's best defencemen the last two games, and in my opinion, the most impressive of the entire tournament thus far. Considering his company on the blue line, I can't give a bigger compliment.

He's carrying the puck and jumping in on the rush, as well as playing lights out one-on-one and positional D in his own zone. 

In case there was any doubt, there isn't anymore. This kid is for real.

— If I had to pick a team that has looked the best so far, I would go with Finland; however, that may change depending on tonight. 

— Not sure why everyone is so surprised by the US. Going into the tournament, they were considered (inexplicably to me) a major underdog. They have the best goalie in the world (this season at least) in Ryan Miller and a great balance of speed and strength among their forward corps.

Zach Parise, Jamie Langenbrunner, Dustin Brown, Patrick Kane, Ryan Kessler, Bobby Ryan, and Phil Kessel doesn't exactly scream mediocrity to me.

The Defence is the only weak link in the team on paper, but that hasn't translated to the ice, on which they have played well as unit. Beyond Ryan Miller's play, limiting rebounds has been the main factor in USA's success. 

— Speaking of Patrick Kane, anybody else think he was going to take over this team? He has been a major disappointment for me so far, as have Ryan Getzlaf, Duncan Keith, and Alex Ovechkin (though Ovie looked better today). 

— Canada losing to the US isn't the travesty many are making it out to be. They didn't play great through the round robin in 2002, and look how that turned out.

And on the topic of that game, Ryan Kessler's goal is the greatest empty netter I've ever seen.

—I want to punch Michael Landsberg every time I see his annoying, pretentious face.

—I want to punch Pierre Mcguire every time I hear his annoying, pretentious voice.

— Sweden, despite being crazy deep and undefeated thus far (barring tonight's outcome), hasn't looked as good as I think they should be. Maybe I'm just nitpicking here.

— Jarolsav Halak has continued his hot play from the NHL, and Slovakia could be dangerous as a result.

— Russia hasn't been the offensive juggernaut I thought they'd be. Good yes, but with Malkin, Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, and Markov I was expecting fireworks.

— Unrelated to hockey, but I have a growing obsession with some of the female curlers.

Others... not so much.

— I'm not drawing the comparison, but in tonight's game Ryan Miller had me thinking about Jim Craig.

I'm not saying, I'm just saying.