For those waiting on the Men’s Olympic Hockey Tournament to begin on Wednesday, I sure hope you’re getting your hockey fix with the Women’s Tournament, especially if you’re a fan of team USA or Canada. The two superpowers have been playing the part, each easily defeating opponents Finland and Switzerland without much struggle. I feel particularly bad for the Swiss, who fell 5-0 to Canada and 9-0 to the Americans. Finland put up a bit more of a fight, falling 3-1 and 3-0 to the US and Canada, respectively.
These one-sided displays are shocking to few, as the US and Canadian Women’s teams have long been the two overwhelming favorites for every championship in the sport. They have battled it out for years, each winning here and there, and now they seem poised to provide a gold-medal match preview with their group-play game on Wednesday.
For the Americans, speed has been their most effective weapon. Amanda Kessel scored a goal against the Swiss that resembled her brother Phil’s style of play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. She picked the puck up off the faceoff after a U.S. goal, played it off the boards around the Swiss defense, walked in and outwaited the goaltender for a highlight-reel goal. Throughout the game, the Americans skated circles around the sluggish Swiss defense.
However, Switzerland and Canada are two very different teams. The Canadians can easily rival USA’s speed and skill, and in many ways, the games these two will play are even more exciting than some Men’s games. Sure, half the excitement of hockey is the hitting, of which there is none in Women’s hockey, but the finesse and team play these women show is absolutely enthralling.
Without a doubt, this game is sure to be a classic. Plus, we all remember the brawl in the Olympic qualifiers, right? In case you don’t, here’s a clip of the incident. Skip to around 5:05 to see the fight.
Now on to the Men’s tournament. Excitement is building for NHL fans everywhere as their favorite players gear up to play in their native colors. For U.S. and Canadian fans, two very different images of the Vancouver games echo in their minds, one of jubilation, the other of sheer dejection and discouragement.
The Canadians will look to repeat their gold medal performance, even if it requires the blood pressure spike of another overtime championship, while the Americans hope to avenge their emotionally devastating loss in 2010. The two will only meet in the medal rounds, as they are in different groups.
As far as medal predictions go, I’d have to say it’s a toss up between USA, Canada, Sweden, and Russia. Any combination of the three could make it on the podium in my eyes, and the one who doesn’t will have been very close to making it. I’ll give Finland a chance as a dark horse, but just as that. I don’t believe they have the talent to beat two of the aforementioned 4 teams and take a medal.
So, while we wait for the Men’s tournament to start, let’s give the Women’s Tournament a look. I guarantee you will be impressed. And feel free to tweet me or comment your medal predictions, your opinions are welcomed.