By Jay Zawaski-
(CBS) — I don’t think, in all my years watching hockey, I’ve ever seen a bigger drop from absolute excitement to complete embarrassment than I did Saturday morning. After getting dominated in their 1-0 loss to Canada on Friday, Team USA had two options. Come out and win the bronze from the strong, but inferior Team Finland, or roll into a ball and go home. They chose the latter.
When it was all said and done, Teemu Selanne and the Finns destroyed the Americans 5-0, capturing their second consecutive Olympic bronze medal. Meanwhile, Team USA leaves Sochi empty handed.
USA captain Zach Parise told NBC, “It wasn’t a good effort by us.” There’s the understatement of the Sochi games. The most damning moment in the game is Finland’s 2nd goal. Three American skaters watched Jussi Jokinen score.
The effort wasn’t there. It wasn’t about bounces, momentum or “puck luck.” It was about getting outworked.
During NBCSN’s post game show, analyst Mike Milbury suggested Patrick Kane needs to look himself in the mirror. He missed two penalty shots in the game (one went wide…one hit the post), and took two bad penalties in the 3rd period. Kane told the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc, “No excuses. I wasn’t good enough to help the team win a medal. I was expected to do more.” While Kane’s numbers (3 assists in 6 games) certainly don’t look like much, I disagree with his statement.
Kane was Team USA’s most effective a possession driving skater in the tournament, and especially in the medal round. The unfortunate reality is that most will just look at his stat sheet, his missed penalty shots, and penalties and use those as tools to rip his performance and effort. In truth, USA looked strongest when Kane was on the ice.
Regardless, it’s a hugely disappointing and embarrassing end to the Olympics. 24 hours before their 5-0 loss, USA hockey fans were preparing for a gold medal game on Sunday. It’s amazing how quickly a powerhouse like Team Canada can expose the truth about a team.
We’ll never know how good of a team the Americans really were. Friday, I thought they were the 2nd best team in the tournament. Perhaps I need to reconsider that opinion. I just wonder what the outcome would have been if Team USA played Finland with the same effort they put forth vs Canada and in their preliminary round game vs the Russians.