Any Given Sunday

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Any Given Sunday
So it's the morning after the big day in Olympic hockey, and there are a few observations that cannot be ignored:

Canada screwed Canada

There is no other way to put it. By losing to the Americans, not only does this Canadian squad have to play an extra game tomorrow against the Germans, the road to an Olympic medal, let alone the gold, just got a whole lot tougher.

The loss to Team USA, coupled with a shootout win against the Swiss, gives Canada the 6th seed in the tournament. Now, the bracket has gotten more trickier, as with a win against Germany, the Canadians would then meet Alexander Ovechkin and Team Russia in the quarterfinals. This was supposed to be the big dream final that all hockey fans were eager to see. The Russian superstars against the host country. Now, this contest would be taking place four days too early.

If Canada gets by Russia, next up would be Sweden, the defending goal-medal champions, and considered by many to be the other big superpower in this tournament because of the NHL star power the club possesses.

Beating Sweden would mean a Gold Medal final against either these same Americans from yesterday, or possibly Jaromir Jagr's Czechs, or Miikka Kiprusoff's Finnish teammates.

No matter how you look at it, Canada is not in an envious position right now.

Team USA is now a medal favourite

By beating Canada, and Russia's loss to the Slovaks earlier in the tournament, the Americans have set themselves up for an easier road to get to the Gold Medal game, and is probably the only country that has a good shot at least reaching the podium. The team gets a bye into the quarterfinals, and then faces off against either Belarus or Switzerland. Neither team should be taken lightly, but it's a far different story than a Canada-Russia matchup.

The semifinals would bring either Finland or the Czechs. Again, neither is a guaranteed win, especially with Kipper and Tomas Vokoun the likely goaltenders. However, it's still a better matchup than any of Sweden, Canada or Russia.

Team USA's win also guarantees that only one of Canada or Russia even has a shot at a medal. There is no possible way that both can hit the podium now.

Goaltending has been crucial

Although Ryan Miller was sensational last night, Canada's failure to earn a bye can actually be traced back to the game before, when the club went to a shootout against the Swiss. That game should have been a regulation win, but it was the stellar goaltending of Jonas Hiller that kept that game close.

We've also seen Jaroslav Halak come up big, as well as other stellar performances from Henrik Lundqvist, Ilya Bryzgalov and Niklas Backstrom to name a few. The netminders are so strong for a lot of countries, that a hot goalie can carry a team for a game, maybe two. That is probably the main reason that there is no clear-cut favourites to make it to the semi-finals, because with 6 games remaining before we hit that stage, it is still anybody's game.


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