One Hell of a Day of Hockey

Gabe in Vancouver

Justifiably unwilling to part with Canada-Russia tickets, and unable to sell USA-Switzerland and Sweden-Slovakia tickets, I saw all three games today. Miscellaneous thoughts:

USA vs Switzerland: closer than the shots would indicate, but not that close overall. The puck went in the net five times; the final score was 2-0. The Swiss seem to have no fear on offense at times - they'll pull toe-drag moves that you only see in pickup hockey, and they'll work. Jonas Hiller was, as usual, phenomenal, but the chances of the US not prevailing, even in front of a somewhat hostile crowd of Canadians chanting for Switzerland, were quite low.

Canada vs Russia: what can I say? This was literally the game of the century as far as everyone in Vancouver was concerned. Tickets were going for unfathomable amounts of money, and the atmosphere inside GM Place was nothing short of electric. When Canada scored - and it happened seven times - the arena went berserk. I honestly have never been to a game that was anything like this. The only downside, I suppose, was that there was no drama - Canada pulled so far ahead so quickly that the outcome was never really in doubt.

Sweden-Slovakia: after Canada-Russia, anything would have been a let-down. There were thousands of empty seats for the 9 pm game and both teams looked asleep for the first half of the game before putting together some nice shooting displays. The Slovak team was overjoyed to have pulled off a 4-3 upset, but by that point the crowd was looking forward to going home.

A few general things:

1. Except for the Canada-Russia game, there were tons of empty seats. Some sections were clearly comps to the various olympic committees, and they were often completely empty.

2. You get almost no replays on the scoreboard at the Olympics. Anything remotely controversial and lots of things that were not were excised after two seconds. It makes it a real pain to watch the game from the upper deck.

3. Someone decided that every announcement should be made in French, and if it was sufficiently important, in English too. I suppose it might make sense if they used Canadian expressions (particularly hockey expressions) in French, but everything sounded like it was written by an awkward and ultra-polite person in French. You don't need to dance around and call Canadians 'vous', and it sounds incredibly stupid to politely ask people to MAKE SOME NOISE!!!!!

4. Further to French: there is a ridiculous intermission interviewer who asks questions in English to people who speak French. They answer in English, and then he translates to French.

5. When was "Too Many Men on the Ice" replaced with "Too Many Players on the Ice"?

All in all, one hell of a day!

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