The Olympics, The Wild and some random hockey thoughts…

Marc Elliott

2018 USA Olympic Team
2018 USA Olympic Team

ELY… It’s just after 3AM on Monday morning and I am about to devour the most perfect grilled cheese sandwich I have ever made. Scratch made thick sliced white bread with a nice medium cheddar cheese all toasted to a golden brown, pickle and chips with a little bit of soda and man oh man! This is living! On the big screen in front of me the 3rd period of the Team Switzerland versus Team Japan Olympic Women’s hockey tilt is about to commence. Yes sir, this is the life of a hockey junkie. The Swiss women are up 2-0 despite the valiant effort of the Japanese team. They have the scoring touch. The Japanese have the shots, the Swiss can finish. The collective heart shown to me by the Japanese team is immeasurable, I stand in admiration of them and their effort this morning but by gosh, at the end of 60 minutes the girls of the Alps have tucked in 3 goals for a final of 3-1 in spite of being outshot 38 to 18. This was a great and entertaining game to watch. My hat is off to both teams. 

In the wee hours the morning before I observed the Team USA versus Team Finland game and it wasn’t unlike this game. A 3-1 victory for the American squad, and they outshot the Finns by a total of 39-23. There was some excitement when right at the end of a scoreless first period the Finns scored with 6 seconds left to go into the room with a 1-0 lead. The USA club seemed to be feeling their way around this game in the first and then took matters over after the intermission. It too was a solid, entertaining game and I am totally in awe at how far the women’s game, skills and competitive level has come. There were a lot of familiar faces out there among the USA and Finn teams from their National teams and from NCAA competition here and it was good to see them on this huge stage. UMD Bulldog netminder Maddie Rooney was between the pipes for the win with a strong performance. This morning I got to watch the Yanks put on a dominating show over the OAR (Olympic Athletes from Russia) team in a 5-0 win. 

This game featured an Olympic record when American forward Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson notched two goals in the 2nd period 6 seconds apart. Her twin sis Monique assisted on the first of those. This game was never really in doubt, with the team launching 50 shots at the OAR net, but even in considering that there are some things the USA will need to be sharper at before their next tilt. The Russians had a tendency to play some skaters high in the zone when the Americans had possession in the offensive zone which disrupted that possession at times. The Canadians will be a much quicker club to contend with so that could create some odd man rushes or breakaways against that could lead to disaster. I believe the USA to have a fast team, but when I watch the Canadians they are fast as well, and the Yanks will have to play on their toes anywhere on the ice for this match. I can’t wait.

In about 12 hours the American Men’s team will finally get into action versus the team from Slovenia. Honestly, as I have said in previous editions, I have no idea what to expect. This game commences at about 6AM, so I’ll have to work out a breakfast menu of sorts! No experts at any level are looking for a medal for the American team so any successes will be welcomed. I am expecting the level of competition to be somewhere between high level NCAA and the AHL. The USA will have to get some breaks and come together quickly. I am looking for strong tourneys from Wild prospect Jordan Greenway, who I expect to turn pro after his college season concludes, last year’s World Juniors star Troy Terry, SCSU defender Will Borgen, in the net I look for Ryan Zapolski and Brandon Maxwell to scrap it out for the #1 position. Vet goalie David Leggio will line up behind them. The US club is in Group B with OAR, Slovenia and Slovakia. In the Prelims they will face Slovenia on Wednesday morning, Slovakia on Friday and then OAR on Saturday. In Group A there is Canada, Czech Republic, Switzerland and the host team South Korea. Group C features Sweden, Finland, Norway and Germany. The Quarters will begin on Tuesday the 20th. I’ll be taking some notes and doing so with crossed fingers. Let’s go Boys!

THE MINNESOTA WILD has just faced off with the New York Rangers and less then 7 minutes in already have a 3-0 lead. Wow! This team can be pretty good, or they can put your hockey mojo in the dumpster on any given night. Former Hermantown, Sioux City Musketeer and UMD Bulldog hockey hero Neal Pionk has suited up for the NYR this eve, but the bad news is he is a -2 already in what has turned out to be a rough start for the Blueshirts. For the week;

THE ATHLETIC, 15th with a 68% chance of getting into the playoffs. THE SAGARIN, 11TH on a 30-25 record, 11-11 vs top ten, 18-14 vs top 16. NHL STANDINGS by percentage of points available, 11th on a .600%-win pct., 5th in the CENTRAL with 66 points in 55 games, 8th and in the final WC playoff position, with LAK 65pts/55games, ANA 65pts/57 games and COL 64pts/55 games in contention. Any team below this level is eliminated in my view…

RANDOM THOUGHTS… In watching the women’s hockey portion of the Olympics and in reading the IIHF rules regarding contact in the women’s game, I am absolutely corn-fused. There must be some nuance to their game that I haven’t picked up on yet. Most of the players can bodycheck, set picks and run interference as good as any on the men’s side, with few penalties! WE KNOW that the Russian team has been officially suspended from the Winter Olympics due to their doping scandal from the Sochi games. But there they are! Most of their eligible athletes and/or teams are there in force and competing away minus maybe a waterboy or two. So, they can’t call themselves “Team Russia”, can’t bring their flag or play their anthem if they win. But outside of suspended individual athletes, there they are!! Just as if nothing happened! So, this is punishment?? Hmmmm, PEACE 

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