Bracket Busters, Hockey Edition

How important was that hockey game last night?

Well, besides the fact that it means the United States has beaten Canada in the two biggest hockey tournaments of the year, it now means this:

To make the gold medal game, the US will likely have to defeat Switzerland and Finland.

To make the gold medal game, Canada will likely have to defeat Germany, Russia and Sweden.

So yeah, it was pretty important.  The US has already downed Switzerland once this tournament, 3-1, but they're still far from an easy game and closer in quality to the top 7 teams than 9-12.  Defeating a team backstopped by Jonas Hiller isn't easy but I think the US can do it.  Or Belarus may win and we'll have to play them and I bet that'll be tough.  Yeah, I'm real scared of the Belarussians- the Belarussos- those guys from Belarus.

After that, the Americans face either Finland or the Czech Republic.  Tough but winnable; or at least, more winnable than a game against Canada, Russia or Sweden, who all reside on the other side of the bracket.  Finland is tough because they can grind the shit out of you but I'm not scared of Miika Kiprusoff or their defense at all.  The Czechs are pretty good but they don't have the top-end talent they used to.  Either way, I'm cautiously optimistic.

Canada, meanwhile, is pretty screwed.  I still think they're the best team in the tournament but beating Russia, Sweden and whatever team comes out of the other side of the bracket is a pretty insurmountable task.  I almost feel kind of bad for Canada, but really, they put this pressure on themselves.  They need to adopt the same stance Americans take in basketball: "We're the best, fuck the world, individual tournaments don't mean shit... wait, we won the Olympics?  Fuck yeah, we rule!  Fuck all y'all USA USA USA USA!!!"  The problem Canadians have is that they admit the pressure is there before the game starts.  You fools, you only acknowledge it after you win.  That's the American way!

It's funny, this time yesterday I was convinced the US wouldn't medal and all I was hoping for was a match-up against the Slovaks or Czechs to at least make the semi-final game.  Now I'm thinking the US should be able to walk into the semis with a honest to God shot at a medal.  To be honest, I don't even care at this point.  Like I said to my roommate last night after Ryan Kesler made that amazing empty netter (around a clueless Corey Perry, no less): "Holy fucking shit, we just beat Canada!"

***

A few things that shouldn't get lost in the shuffle of last night's mayhem:

-Drew Doughty played the 2nd most of any Canadian defenseman.

-Jack Johnson played the 3rd most of any American defenseman.  And pretty well, too, although he did find himself out of position a lot.

-Corey Perry is a weenie and I'm glad everyone now knows it.

-Doc Emrick had the game of his life.  Seriously, I love that guy.  How can you not get excited when he's calling a game?  I thought he was going to spontaneously combust during those 3 consecutive breakaways.

-Shut up, Ed Olczyk.

-I really like cheering for Ryan Kesler.  It's a lot more fun when he's being a little shit to teams you don't like.

-Ryan Miller, American hockey god.

-Martin Brodeur, klutz.

-I love hockey.

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