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'Super Sunday' puts hockey on Olympic center stage

by Greg Inglis
It's finally here. Super Sunday! Three great games, three great rivalries, six great teams.

* "Canada might dominate curling, excel in speed skating and carry medal hopes in figure skating. But the pulse of the nation races for the Olympic hockey tournament, and it kicks into gear with no small bit of excitement Sunday," writes Amy Shipley in the Washington Post.

* "The buzz around town surrounding what's being dubbed "Super Sunday" is palpable," writes Sarah Kwak at

"This seems to be all anybody's talking about, a back-to-back-to-back showdown of old rivals that is sure to get the nationalistic blood boiling and give hockey fiends a fix that should last for years. Not only will they play rematches of the three last three Olympic gold medal contests -- and in chronological order, to boot! -- but the games carry significance for the playoff rounds, which begin Tuesday.

"The marquee matchup of the day belongs to the U.S. and Canada, two teams whose distaste for one another has grown over the years, despite the fact they haven't met in Olympic competition since the 2002 gold-medal game. "Do I dislike them?" U.S. defenseman Jack Johnson says. "Yes."

* "Their game. In their barn, known during the Olympics as Canada Hockey Place, though almost any place in Canada is a hockey place," writes Helene Elliott in the Los Angeles Times.

"Sunday's preliminary-round finale between the U.S. and Canada has as many meanings as there are backyard rinks and ice-covered ponds on this side of the border. But at its heart is a pure and powerful competition between nations that have created a distinct style and exported it around the hockey world.

"Borrowing a saying from the late U.S. coach Bob Johnson, (Ron) Wilson predicted Sunday will be "a great day for hockey." It also should be a day for great hockey."

* "Sunday's crowd? Somewhat bigger than the estimated 700 who turned out for Canada's 2-0 victory over the United States in Antwerp in 1920," writes Alan Robinson of the Associated Press. "On eBay, two seats were selling Saturday for $1,500 to $2,000 apiece, depending on their location in Canada Hockey Place. And the medal round has yet to begin."

* Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail wonders if a Team Canada loss would include a silver lining: "The more hockey the better, so far as this unfocused, uncertain, still unassembled team is concerned - and a loss will mean four games, rather than three, to reach the gold medal. And if Team Canada remains a team in search of its identity come tomorrow, having that extra game to play, and win, might in the end serve a purpose."

* With the myriad storylines swirling around today's Super Sunday triple-header, the team offers the most complete coverage anywhere -- here's a summary:

Olympic Gear * Teammates Turned Enemies stands to be one of the major subplots of the battle to decide Group A between the U.S. and Canada.

* John Dellapina traces the evolution the Canada-USA rivalry.

* Dan Rosen reports on how Team Canada is dealing with the intense pressure, updates Canada's latest line combinations and speaks with head coach Mike Babcock.

* Shawn Roarke examines the challenge Team USA faces in dealing with Canada's imposing physical presence and how the team learned a lesson in team-building from its military.

* NBC and TSN's Pierre McGuire provides exclusive analysis for NHL All-Access Vancouver.

* Mike Morreale provides plenty of background on the Czech-Russia rivalry, while Risto Pakarinen does the same for Finland-Sweden.

* John Kreiser has a detailed summary of the standings scenarios for today's games.

* Also, check out the Super Sunday broadcast schedule and the frequently-updated Destination Vancouver blog with contributions from the entire staff.
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