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February 22, 2010

Miracle On Ice...30 Years Ago Today

If you are too young to remember it, there's really no way to explain what it meant. We were in the depths of the Carter malaise and the Soviet Union seemed to be on the rise. Then in the pre-professional player (well the Soviets were pros), pre-internet, pre-cable tv era a bunch of college kids did the impossible. They beat the Soviets. It would be nearly a full year before Ronald Reagan took office and the light at the end of the tunnel appeared but this was something to hold the nation over until the cavalry showed up.

Trivia...this was not the gold medal game. The US had to comeback 2 days later and beat Finland. They were down going into the 3rd period of that game and had to mount an amazing comeback to complete the true "Miracle on Ice".

Now about the 2010 USA hockey team...

Wow, did not see last night's game and the #1 overall seed coming.

Take a look at the brackets and you'll see the USA has a very reasonable route to the gold medal round. Not an easy one but a reasonable one. They will likely play the Swiss on Wednesday and that won't be an easy out by any stretch and then a semi-final against either the Czech Republic or Finland. By securing the number one seed they are on the other half of the draw from powerhouses Russia, Sweden, Canada and Slovaka. Those teams are going to kill themselves getting to the gold medal game.

tmi3rd has more thoughts on last night's big win.

Well, I actually called this wrong. I keep expecting this team to be a counterpunching team, and instead, they're very run-and-gun. It took two games for Ron Wilson to figure his line combinations out, and once he finally did, here's what we're now seeing.

Grit and size on the top three lines, and all-balls grit on the fourth line/ penalty kill.

Defensive responsibility that we didn't see in the first two games. Patrick Kane can't be bothered to play defense? No problem. Put him on the third line (almost interchangeable with the second), and have him handle all the forechecking. Not enough size and grit on the first line? Move Langenbrunner to the first line and let him destroy anything in his path.

And where the hell did Brian Rafalski come from? Good God, the guy's remarkable. He's like five-eight and all of a buck eighty soaking wet, and playing out of his mind. Ryan Suter is playing up to his family pedigree (father Bob was on the 1980 US team, uncle Gary was on the 1996 World Cup-winning team), and there's no lack of continuity among the big six defensemen. The Johnsons are playing better than their young age should allow them to, and the third pairing of Tim Gleason and Brooks Orpik have been remarkable.

In net, Ryan Miller is doing exactly what we knew he could do. That doesn't stop him from being Paul Anka-esque amazing, as only Morons could praise him. He got beaten on a bunch of very hard-working goals that he had little chance on.

In the meantime, Russia played a very complete game, and will face Canada in the second round (assuming, of course, Canada knocks off Germany). The Canadians are going to have to play infinitely better against Russia in order to to survive the Russians- and the best thing that could possibly happen for the US is a huge, physical, beatdown style game. Tire both teams out so that they have no gas left in the tank going into the semis.

This has truly been a great day for hockey.

Keep Canada in your prayers...they must be suicidal today. Oh and enjoy the sweet, sweet taste of their tears.

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posted by DrewM. at 12:46 PM

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