Now we're into the meat of things, aren't we? The tournament is down to the final four, and all six Blackhawk Olympians are still involved. I think it's obligatory at this point that we say we hope no one gets hurt, so I'm just going to throw that out there. So here's a look ahead at today's games, BOTH of which are on the big boy network, as shocking as it sounds.
2:00 PM - Fightin' Finns vs. America (Fuck Yeah!) - I know I'm with Sam on this one when I say I would have preferred a matchup with the Czechs for the Freedom Fighters. Finland is a team that plays NHL-Playoffs grade nasty hockey in these tournaments, and it's usually why they do well. Solid netminding from Miikka Kiprusoff, balanced if unspectacular scoring from the Koivus, Ruutus, and all-time Olympic scorer Teemu Selanne, and an underrated d-corps led by Kimmo Timonen make this a daunting task for the Americans. All is not gloom and doom, though, as the US has quite a bit of sandpaper of their own, and the solid play of Ryan Miller between the pipes. Patrick Kane hasn't been a factor to this point in the tournament, though he certainly hasn't been a liability. But over the last two years, he's pretty much done nothing but pull the Belmont Transfer on Kipper, so look for him to have a breakout effort. Nostradrunkus (me) says this one goes to OT.
8:30 PM - Slovaks vs. Hosers - Slovakia's upset of Sweden meant Canada's road to gold got slightly easier, but the Slovakians are not to be looked past. Marians Hossa and Gaborik are world class game breakers against world class competition, and a re-animated Pavol Demitra has been helping to provide some more balance to the offense. Look for Jonathan Toews and his line to be matched up against either Hossa or Gaborik all night long, and conversely, Sidney Crosby is going to be seeing a lot of Zdeno Chara, which means Joe Thornton won't be, but he'll still buckle like a belt in this one. Canada should take this on paper, but how well has that worked out for them in the past? This will be the track-meet yin to the afternoon game's meat-grinder yang.
Come get a taste.