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USA Invades Canada!... But!

by Bill Davidge / Columbus Blue Jackets

February 28

Will history repeat itself from 1960, 1980 to 2010 for the USA? It is the feisty, gritty speed and the goaltending of the USA.... vs.....the depth of the four lines and the inert physical ability of Canada. Playing in Vancouver, the national pride of the home country could put undo pressure on the home team.

The talk of Team USA and goaltender Ryan Miller is front and center. The underdog will come in and play hard, but it would be a tremendous boost to the culture of hockey in the USA if they were to strike gold. For Canada, it would be the first time in 30 years of Olympic Hockey; the home hockey team will take home the gold prize. That could be an epic final.

Steve Yzerman has been positive in his approach to this game. He enjoys the balance of his team; he does not get excited about playing a perfect game. He knows that his big forwards will be a determining factor in this game today. Babcock says this is what we are here to do. Keep the puck out of the net, but outwork the USA goaltender. Second and third chances will dictate success in and around the net. The first goal of the tournament is a big part of this game as 26-of-28 first goals scored in this Olympic game provided the game winner.

There could be a key match up today with Rick Nash against Zach Parise. Nash has accepted his role of a shut down winger as he has done a nice job against the Russian best Alexander Ovechkin and Slovakia's Marion Gaborik. The Hitchcock mystic will remain with Nash as long as he plays this game. The defensive mind set will take him to another level, and it is that hope today for #61.

Tickets for upper bowl seats at the start of the game are going for $2,000. For the lower bowl they are being turned away from $5,000-$10,000. The local bars in the Vancouver area are bursting at the doors with people trying to find a commercial establishment to share in the joy of the contest. They will most likely find a cubbie hole next to the entrance and that is it!! Now let the game begin!!!

First Period
• Pressure by the USA... good chances... defense joining the rush by Weber and Doughty of Canada. First five minutes. The Canadians had an actual 4-on-2 with Nash as the shooter it was stymied.

• The next five minutes, both teams are settling in and the shots are only 2-1 in favor of Canada. Nobody wants to make a mistake. Nash has another opportunity as Backes breaks his stick on a breakout and allows the opportunity. Minutes later, Backes takes it wide and drives to the net, the USA's best chance so far.

• Scoring chances now favor USA 4-1, but a Richards shot and a rebound goal by Toews allow the Canadians to take a 1-0 lead... Will this be huge? What a job by the Richards, Nash and Toews line. Strength on the puck and net presence by the big men a key. The turnover by Erik Johnson in the tight net area results in a goal.

• Breakouts by the Canadians have been easier with the middle of the ice option. The USA loves to pinch and this adjustment is helpful. Chances are now tied 5-5 but shots favor the home team 10-5.

• A cheap shot at the end of the period by Jack Johnson on Eric Staal as the whistle blew. Johnson finished his check. This will add just a little fuel to the fire to start the second... control the emotions will be a key!!

Canada 1-0

Second Period
• 1:15 in and Iginla gets a turnover on the backhand and has a good opportunity. The key for both teams is the ability to have quality line changes, because of the distance between the benches for changing players. The first PP of the game sends Malone to the box. Weber is in a class of his own on the PP... The USA has to pay the price in blocking shots... ask Drury and Callahan. The Canadians need to fake and then slide.

• PP now for USA. Nash doing a nice job on the PK and the Canadians only allow one shot on the two-minute minor. The transition by Getzlaf and Marleau and then the rebound by Corey Perry makes it a 2-0 game. Simple 3-on-2 center drive to the net by Marleau the key in creating the opportunity.

• PP again for Team USA and again it is the tenacity of Nash and the Canadian defense do a nice job. Only two shots allowed but the nose of the USA forwards continue to hound the net, even when the whistles have blown. It is end to end, but USA that needs a spark on a consistent effort to turn the tide... and they do!! On a deflection by Kesler on another center drive goal is the result. A simple shot by Kane is the answer... was the play offside? Dustin Brown was the far side winger, clearly a foot ahead of the play. No matter, the plays stands, 2-1 Canada.

• Pressure and confidence is on the side of the Americans. The Canadians are trying to right the ship. Puck management along the wall and getting pucks from low to high has been in the cards in the last few minutes for the home team again.

• A surge by the Americans is now the norm. They are outworking the Canadians and getting things to the net with traffic. A turnover creates a great chance for Nash and Richards, but Miller is the difference as it goes off the glove. Face-offs in the offensive zone by the Americans have dominated in this period.

• With less than a minute Staal misses a breakaway, but the USA turn up the heat to finish off the period!

• Kesler says "we are going to keep coming... Louie looks like he is fighting the puck so we are going to keep firing pucks at him."

Canada 2-1

Third Period
• A post to start the period for Canada by Weber, then another post by Pronger in the first two minutes allows the USA to stay in it. Doughty and Keith are making transition look easy. The Duck contingent Getzlaf and Perry with Morrow have a great opportunity because of puck protection. Nash still grinding doing the same thing. The Canadians have had the better part of the period, but the Americans are still hunting.

• The Canadians have to close the gap on Kane. He is so dangerous as he enters the zone. He could be a key in the one goal deficit.

• Nash continues to work along the wall and uses the defenseman for a screen. He has been exceptional doing the little things today. There have been few odd man rushes given up by both teams but a turnover by Kane in his own zone almost is converted by Marleau and then again by Heatly.

• Ryan Suter is not shy. He takes precedent knowing he has support tries to force the front of the net from his defensive position.

• With eight minutes to go, Parise shows his individual efforts as he creates something out of nothing on a 2-on-2.

• Line changes are quick and furious, but the Americans are getting great play by Rafalski and Kesler, as they remain dangerous every time out.

• Crosby just missed a pressured breakaway as the arena was on its feet. The effort by Kane defensively the difference.

• Face-offs 27-26 Canada, and won by the USA in the offensive zone... six attackers follow suit... should be the time for a timeout. The Canadian telecast is quiet as the analysis of Olyck is pure coaching during the timeout... they let the arena breath in Hockey Canada Place.

• Zach Parise SCORES to TIE... wow... what a finish.... Luongo does not covet the glove shot as he fought the puck. Kane again has time to shoot and Parise picks up the rebound as Weber and Neidermayer are positioned in front of the most dangerous man on the ice... 24 seconds left... a lack of composure by the Canadians result into this being an OT game!!

At the end of regulation it's 2-2... now to overtime!

• Now 4-on-4... do you remember the WJC for Team USA... the defense joining the rush. What philosophy would you take? Go for the gold... or... wait for a mistake? The long bench change could have an affect. Face-offs are a must by both teams.

• Both teams are cautious until Iginla, Marleau have opportunities on the same shift. But then work by Iginla and the quick shot by


How deserving for Canada that #87 scores the GWG and secures Olympic Gold for Canada. The face of the future in Canada does it!

Congrats to our own Rick Nash, who brings home the GOLD. Congrats to Hitch who helped lay a foundation in Columbus!

I have been fortunate to watch both TV feeds today. The Canadian feed on TSN and the American feed on NBC. I continue to jump back and forth between the two. In this presentation I give the advantage to NBC and the USA. Doc and Eddie work so well together as they feed off of each other well. The analysis, the stories and not just play by play is the main difference between the broadcasts. The "no commercials" on NBC really set the stage for the third period and overtime. Born in Canada and now an American citizen, I am proud to be part of this great game. What a thrill to watch and observe what we all call the Olympic Games. Congratulations CANADA!!!!!

*Throughout the season, AAA will bring you the Broadcaster's Blogs - "Bobby Mac's Blog," "Davidge Dishes" and "Rimer Ramblings." The Columbus Blue Jackets radio and television analysts will try to keep you updated on all the season action through their blogs, especially when the Blue Jackets are on the road.

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