Notes and observations:
*I neglected to mention it yesterday but one of the best things about these Olympics is the uniform for the garbage people at the arena. They wear Islander jerseys without the crest. So every time I see some poor sod forced to mop up or pick up trash, I think Islanders. How appropriate.
*The atmosphere for the Czechoslovakia civil war was wild. Most likely it was because there were less Canadians in the building and more nationals for each team. Chanting, whistling, rising and falling with every play for the first two periods ... it was so much fun. I spoke to security and they said that there was only one minor tussle in the crowd, which I find surprising as rival fans were chanting and yelling at each other so much - especially walking out. Love the passion.
*Didn't love the result, a 3-1 Czech win. It was so incredibly like a Ranger game that it scared me - team gets a great breakaway six minutes in but can't score and gives up a power play goal. Team hits the post in the last minute of the second period and the other team comes right down and scores before the buzzer. Team comes out flat for the third losing by two, Gaborik draws a penalty and the power play can't even get in the opposing zone. Sound familiar?
*That breakaway I mentioned? It was by
*Jaromir Jagr on the other hand is still Jaromir Jagr. The big beast who steps up his game when he wants to and can change a game just like that. Why the Slovak coach didn't match Zdeno Chara with Jagr for every second of every shift is beyond me. Chara is just gimormous even in person and he really is an adept defenseman - shocking considering his Islander roots. When he decides he wants the puck, he simply takes it away.
*On the topic of top flight defenders, Nicklas Lidstrom wasn't all that impressive - much like the entire Swedish side. They were outhustled and won on two power play goals - one that shouldn't have counted with goaltender interference. The Germans played solid north-south hockey while the Swedes tried to be too cute and nearly paid for it with the result - the Germans hit a post and a crossbar so they were thiiiiis close from a draw with the reigning Olympic champs. Hank barely made a good save but he got the shutout so more power to him.
*Back to the Czechoslovakia game, in-game host Marc Denis interviewed NHL Hall of Famer Peter Stastny, who was just sitting in the crowd, a few rows off the ice. Denis spoke to Stastny in the first intermission, leaving fans to try to come over during the second break to get a picture or an autograph. Instead, Stastny was surrounded by five print guys for an interview that lasted the whole intermission. That's just not right; f-ing media.
*I'm bitter because I wanted the former Quebec Nordique to sign my game ticket. It would have topped the auto I got earlier in the day for sure: Jari Kurri on my Finland-Belarus ticket. Kurri was nice to sign and all but let's face it, he came to New York and took a paycheque when he should have retired. Kurri is still a Finnish legend but Stastny is a legend period.
*The current Finns were my darkhorse for a medal and only served to reinforce that in their 5-1 win over the Belarussians. They play smart, simple hockey and make few mistakes. Once Kipper loses his job to the better Backstrom or Niittymaki (who should be starting IMO), they will be a dangerous, dangerous team.
*Coming out of the first intermission of that game one of the linesmen ran onto the ice, made it a few feet and promptly fell. Twice. He had forgotten to take the skate guard off of one skate. Hilarity.
*There was nothing funny about the holding pen they kept us fans who had tickets to the next game. It was a small open space at the bottom of the stairs up to the arena and had a few port-o-potties and a whole lotta nothing else. So everyone just sat around and stared at each other for an hour or so before we were let back in. They had a "band" come in to play, four college kids. One with a guitar who sang, one with a snare drum, one with a bass guitar and one with a trombone and a tambourine... a trombone and a tambourine. Just imagine the horrible noise that resulted. I am pretty sure that the constitution bans cruel and unusual punishment but I guess the Canadians don't abide by basic human rights. Savages.
At least on Thursday I will avoid the pen and head to a pub to watch the Canada/Switzerland game. That comes after the U.S. vs Norway (Go USA, Go Cally!!) and before the Russians take on Gaborik and the poor Slovaks, who don't have a chance with jumpy Jaro Halak in net. But we will see!