2010 Winter Olympics: A Look at the Fallout of Super Sunday

Kyle HollandCorrespondent IFebruary 23, 2010

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 21:  Canadian fans react after Canada lost 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 Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Sunday was probably one of the best back to back to back matchups in Olympic or more importantly hockey history. The past Sunday as we all know was a re-match of the past three Olympic gold Medal finals.

Russia and Czech Republic were having a hard fought battle, and the game could've gone either way until Alexander Ovechkin made a game changing tilt. No, for once it wasn't a goal, but a hard crushing open ice hit on Czech superstar Jaromir Jagr, and the turnover led to the game winning goal by Evgeni Malkin. With the 4-2 win, Russia successfully earned their number one spot in their pool like expected and the bye to the quarterfinals.

The big matchup, the biggest anticipated game thus far in the Olympics between USA and Canada, did live up to every bit of the hype. However, Team USA came up on top and not Canada. The Old guy on the team, Brian Rafalski, gave probably the best (player) individual performance in the tournament with two goals and an assist. Rafalski almost had a hat trick had his shot not touched Langunbrunner's stick, but I'm sure Rafalski could care less. The puck still went in the net.

Ryan Miller, with all the hopes of medaling in the Olympics solely on his shoulders, did not disappoint. He turned away 42 shots on net, 14 of which came in the third period. The final three minutes looked like a target practice, and Miller turned them all away successfully, holding their one goal lead until Ryan Kesler hustled his way to score the open net goal, successfully locking up the 5-3 win.

The standings shifted drammatically after the buzzer, which no one could ever expect coming into the Olympics: Team USA won their pool and got the bye instead of Canada. The team played successfully with a tremendous amount of luck and goal-tending that no adjective could describe perfectly and earned a bye to the quarterfinals, where they'll most likely play Switzerland. Not to get ahead of ourselves, but I think it's safe to say that Team USA will be in the final four battling for the Gold medal game.

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The same cannot be said for Canada, though, because of its loss to Team USA. Canada will now have to play Russia on Wednesday, since it's safe to say that Canada will dispatch Germany by a 10-1 win. Germany was blanked by Sweden and Finland, so I think they're due at least one goal on a power house team.

So Wednesday is do or die for Canada now. They could very well go home with nothing if they lose to the big red machines. Team USA changed the very narrative of how this Olympic tournament would turn out. Everyone expected that it would be Russia vs Canada for the gold. Now we have Russia vs Canada to go into the semifinals.

Sunday's loss could've done two things: killed all the mojo of team Canada or light one hell of fire under their a$$. We won't know until Wednesday, though, as Canada could have Chris Osgood on his worst night and still beat Germany short handed the whole game. Wednesday will be a block buster match that this guy is pissed he'll miss out on.

Everyone will be talking about how it's Canada vs Russia, Crosby vs Ovechkin. I'm going a different directions: Malkin vs Crosby. Two out of three of the best players in the world play for the same team. Crosby get's all of the attention; however, people often forget that the only Atlantic division title Pittsburgh has won since the lockout came when Malkin was carrying the team when Sid the Kid was hurt. Malkin has been living in Crosby's shadow since he came over in 2006-2007.

If Malkin was any other team, he'd be all everyone would be talking about. However, living in his shadow has benefited Malkin. Malkin is a very laid back quiet type of guy. It's known that he's very uncomfortable with the culture difference outside the rink, as he's had a difficult time learning English. If Russia beats Canada, though, Malkin will have a huge advantage. I look forward to the outcome of this game to see if Malkin tops Crosby.

I'm predicting that after this tournament, Malkin has a renewal of energy and gets 36 points in the final 20 games.

Finally, the closer for the night was Finland vs Sweden, the two finalists from the last Olympic tournament. However, unlike Russia and USA, Finland did not get retribution. Finland fell 3-0 to Sweden, as Henrik Lundqvist posted his second shutout. Sweden raised a lot of eyebrows with their 2-0 win over Germany, but this team is going with timely scoring, tight defense, and Henrik Lundqvist. With the win, Sweden now goes into the quarterfinals and is the only other team besides USA to go undefeated in the preliminary round.

Russia seems to be the most dangerous team, as they've already been tested early with opponents like Czech Republic and Slovakia. USA and Sweden had pretty easy rounds against opponents. They're only tests came Sunday against Canada and Finland. Russia has all its kinks figured out and have had better defense than most have given them credit for. Unfortunately for Canada, they have to get their kinks worked out against the worst team in the tournament. Even if it's a blow out, there's really no way to guess if their tweaks will work against Russia.

On a final note, I'm leaving it with this: Whoever wins Wednesday against Canada and Russia WILL win Gold.


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