OGDB Final: A nation watches and hopes for gold

Ice Hockey - Men's Semifinal - CAN vs SVK

In case we needed some more incentive for tonight’s game, a win on the ice by Canada will set a new winter Olympic record for most Gold medals in one Olympics: fourteen I guess Own the Podium wasn’t far off after all.

You’ve been captivated the past 15 days by the likes of Alex Bilodeau, Maelle Ricker, Christine Nesbitt, Jon Montgomery, Scott Moir, Tessa Virtue, Ashleigh McIvor, Kaillie Humphries, Heather Moyse, Charles Hamelin (twice), Francois Hamelin, Olivier Jean, Francois-Louis Tremblay, women’s hockey, Mathieu Giroux, Lucas Makowsky, Denny Morrison, Jasey Jay Anderson, Kevin Martin, John Morris, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert.

Or maybe you shed a tear and felt a great sense of Canadian pride watching Joannie Rochette perform so admirably after her mother’s death en route to a bronze medal, so maybe it is fitting that we get to watch OUR game against the United States.

I don’t believe that hockey has dominated these games, because we’ve witnessed so many other great and inspirational efforts, but it is fitting that today Canada has a chance to win gold in the game we love the most, and finish off the 2010 Olympic Games in style.

Tickets for the game are going for more than a Super Bowl ticket right now. Scalpers, and on-line ticket sites are asking, and getting, four thousand dollars for a ticket.

The Americans can pump their chest all they want about football and baseball being their game, but neither of those sports are in the Olympics, and neither captivates an entire nation like hockey does for Canadians.

THERE IS A “G” an “O” and “D” in GOLD

Before we get any further I think it is fitting, being Sunday and all, that we say a few words. Read them out loud and with some feeling.

Our Father who art in Vancouver, hockey be thy name. Thy will be done, the Gold will be won, on the ice for the men as it was for the women. Give us this day, our hockey wives, and forgive us our penalties as we forgive those who cross check against us. Lead us not into elimination but deliver us to victory. For thine is the Getzlaf, the Toews and the holy Crosby, AMEN…

Reader/listener, Derrick, sent this to me and who knows maybe a little divine intervention can’t hurt.

BREAK DOWN GOLD MEDAL

Even though the States have yet to lose in the tournament I still think Canada is the favourite. Ryan Miller has been spectacular for the USA and he’ll need to do it again if they want to win.

Canada is averaging 40.5 SOG in the tourney, and they had 43 on Miller last Sunday, meanwhile the States have fired an average of 31 shots in their five wins. Miller will be busier than Roberto Luongo and he’ll have to be better to stop Canada from grabbing their record-setting 14th gold.

The PPs are a saw off. Canada has scored on 29.1% of their opportunities while the USA is close at 28.5%. But Canada has a big advantage on the PK, with a tournament best 88.4% efficiency compared to only 76.9% for the States.

The most surprising stat is that these are the two most disciplined teams in the tourney. The States have only been shorthanded 13 times in five games, while Canada has had to kill of 19 penalties in their six games. Both teams have been physical, but neither has run into penalty trouble, excluding the 3rd period last Sunday when Canada took three consecutive penalties.

MILLER OVERHYPED?

It would seem the big advantage the US has is in goal with Ryan Miller. Miller has given up five goals in five games, although his GAA is just below one, because he didn’t play the final eleven minutes v. Finland. And is SV% is a sparkling .952.

But outside of the Canada game has he really been tested.

He faced 15 shots v. the Swiss, 11 v. Norway, 43 v. Canada, then 19 in the quarterfinals against the Swiss, before stopping 18 in the semi-final. He has played well, there is no doubt, but when you consider the bad games we’ve seen from Martin Brodeur, Henrik Lundqvist (Slovakia), Evgeni Nabokov (Canada) and Mikka Kiprusoff in the semis you wonder if it’s Miller’s time to lay an egg?

I hope he plays great and Canada still wins, because then there will be no excuses from south of the border.

HEROS ARE MADE

A big goal in today’s game will make a player famous for years to come. Paul Henderson wasn’t the best player in 1972, but he scored the two most important goals in that series, and he’s famous because of it.

Who will be a star today?

My money is on Ryan Getzlaf. Some questioned if his ankle would allow him to contribute, but those worries have been erased by a clutch performance from Getzlaf. He, along with Corey Perry and Brendan Morrow, has been Canada’s best line the past two games and I expect that to continue today.

Sidney Crosby has been rather quiet the past few games, so you can never count out the Kid, but I have a feeling Getzlaf’s line will be key in Canada’s win.

I haven’t been this excited for a game in years. Even though it was only eight years ago that these two teams met for gold in Salt Lake, this game just seems more hyped and more important. There’s a lot on the line, and I expect the Red and White to come through.

Canada wins 5-3, we set an Olympic record for most gold medals and we show the world this is still OUR game. GO CANADA.