USA Shocks World, Knocks Off Canada
No one gave the USA Men’s Hockey team a chance in this Olympics, and rightfully so. They lacked the offensive star power of their Canadian and Russian counterparts, and finished in 8th place in the 2006 Olympic Games. It was believed that they might have a chance to capture Bronze, and if everything went their way they could grab Silver. But Gold was unattainable, because no one was going to beat the Canadian team on their home ice with a roster full of All-Stars. Well apparently no one told that to Goalie Ryan Miller and the rest of the USA hockey team, because as we enter the medal round, it is the United States with the first seed after they defeated the Canadians last night 5-3.
“Defeat” doesn’t do the game justice, as USA was in control of that game from the opening minute until the clock read 0:00. Now looking at the stat sheet one would think that Canada controlled the tempo of the game, because they out shot the United States 45-23. But if you watched the game you would have seen the dominance of the USA team. Their shots might have been limited, but they made the most out of them and really got some good looks on the net, and goalie Martin Brodeur. Although defensively the USA team allowed a number of shots on goal, it didn’t really matter because Miller was an absolute wall in between the posts.
Ironically its Brodeur who is considered the top goalie in the NHL and best in recent memory, but Miller surpassed him last night. For awhile Miller had been knocking on the door of best goalie in the world, well last night he left no doubt. His performance was simply incredible. He stopped 42 shots against one of the best hockey teams ever assembled. This wasn’t stopping shots against some NHL team’s 3rd and 4th lines, Miller was stonewalling the likes of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Sidney Crosby and Rick Nash (and the list goes on and on). These are the best sharpshooters in the league. And its not as though they didn’t get plenty of good looks. The number of open or 2nd chance shots that he stopped was unbelievable. Against any other goalie Canada puts up 6-7 goals easily.
Miller wasn’t the only USA player that deserves credit for yesterday’s stunning win, (though surviving that onslaught was a big key). The USA forwards played a brilliant game as well. Their shots on goal might have been limited, but they made the most out of them. Not only did they score 5 goals, but a number of their other shots were really good looks, that seemed to force Canada to play a more defensive minded game, especially in the 2nd period. They put significant pressure on their Canadian counterparts, and really got them out of rhythm.
Overall it was a wonderful performance by USA hockey, but now they aren’t the underdog’s any more and no one will take them for granted. The bar is now set, for either Gold or Bust. If they can continue to play like they did last night (and Ryan Miller stays in net) it won’t matter what their expectations are, or how their opponents view them, because they won’t be stopped.