Maybe I'm writing this because I know the other guy who runs this site when he's not avoiding it is on record saying he doesn't like Olympic hockey with NHL players and that he wasn't looking forward to this tournament. Maybe I'm writing this because I was luke warm at best before it started. Maybe I'm just still excited form the Minor Miracle Team USA pulled against the host Canadians Sunday. All I know is the 5-3 win was one of the most fun hockey games I've seen this season.
There's something about watching this team that I realized as they matched up with the Canadians. Look at the guys in read and you'll see Sidney Crosby and Martin Brodeur and Chris Pronger -- some of the most well-known players in the game today. You'll see Stanley Cup Winners, Hart Trophy recipients and past Olympic gold medals. On paper, Canada has one of the best rosters in the tournament. They also have the pressure of an entire country of hockey-loving freaks on their shoulders.
Team USA on the other hand is young, averaging 26 years old. Only a handful of guys have played in the Olympics before or are lucky enough to have their names engraved on the Cup. This is a roster built on young determination and the concept of team. To score goals, they have to bring physicality and resolve, pressure and pain. If they don't force the issue, the opposition is going to skate around them and fill the net. Brian Burke built a team, not an all-star team. And it's fucking working.
I'm officially on the bandwagon. The jerseys Sunday were spectacular. They played a physical style against Canada and converted some really dumb mistakes Brodeur made playing the puck outside the crease. They got shots through from the point. They saw Ryan Miller sustain the victory during a hectic finish to the game. It was fun watching the favorites and their loud-mouthed fans deal with some adversity.
I got a text from a buddy who is a casual Blues fan at best. he makes it to one or two games a year. He knows some of the players but has never been a big fan. He wanted to know why every hockey game wasn't as intense and as entertaining. My brother is a casual fan. He called and wanted to talk about the end of the game. This team and that performance are infectious. While with the current setup, we won't see another Miracle on Ice, Sundays game gave us a glimpse of what this team can do and what it could feel like.