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Back to the Grind

by Anthony Oliva / New Jersey Devils
After a much-needed day of rest, its back to the grind, as we head into the home stretch of 2010 Olympic hockey.  First, on the women's front, even to someone who has little knowledge of women's hockey (like me), it's no surprise that Canada and USA will meet for the gold on Thursday (6:30 PM EST).  This is preceded by the bronze medal game (2 PM EST), pitting Sweden and Finland against each other.

Today is a big day in the men's tournament.  Four playoff qualifiers include Switzerland vs Belarus, Canada vs Germany, Czech Republic vs. Latvia and finally, Slovakia vs. Norway.  Based on a blend of common sense and what we've seen thus far, I expect to see Switzerland, Canada, the Czechs and Slovaks all advance.  If I had to pick one team to pull off an upset though, I'd go for the Latvians, for no other reason than every Latvia crowd is overflowing with an abundance of high energy.  Plus, they've already seen the Czechs, and if not for some early breakdowns, they were only a shot or two away from putting in a good scare on Friday.


• Team Canada (women) has outscored the opposition 46-2 in four games.  In the same amount of games, Team USA has outscored their opponents 40-2.

• The spin du jour is that Team Canada (men) benefits from having lost to the Americans because now they have an extra game to gel.  The opposing view is that the team must face the daunting task of winning out the rest of the way.  I don't particularly understand that fear.  Everyone needs to win out if they expect a gold medal. 

In the NHL, only four teams have not been able to win four consecutive game during the 2009-10 season.  Guess who they are (answers below).  I know it's comparing apples to oranges, because I've been able to cherry pick a quartet of wins from a five-month span of NHL hockey, and Team Canada's four straight needs to happen right now, and not a handful of months later, but it's far from the insurmountable feat some of the local media seem to suggest.

• Tickets for Czech Republic vs. Latvia, obstructed view: $300 each!  (And that's at a legitimate ticket window.)

• A cheesesteak at Canada Hockey Place is $12.  Like the pizza in the northwest, it doesn't compare.  I should really stop eating food I love when I travel to faraway lands.  It yields nothing but disappointment.

• You can get a bottle of water for $4 at CH Place, and they let you keep the cap!  I was assured that at Canucks games, this is not the case.  So why the difference at the same venue?  Nearly everyone in the arena is a volunteer brought in simply for the Olympics (re: new at this job).  Crazy, right?

• Columbus, Dallas, Florida and Toronto are the only teams not to have won four consecutive games this season.

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