The middle of any Olympics is considered to be the dog days of the games. That was not the case in the hockey rink. The fourth day of competition included one of the best games of the tournament so far, and it seemed as if it would be difficult for the other games to match the intensity. Once again, several Chicago Blackhawks players found themselves in the middle of these games.
The best game of the day was without a doubt the United States vs. Russia. With the Russians hoping to capture gold on their home soil, the Americans faced a steep climb. It was a back-and-fourth game starting from the second period, thanks to Russian captain Pavel Datsyuk. But the Americans stormed back and it looked as if they would win late in the third. Joe Pavelski put the Americans ahead thanks to a sick feed from Blackhawks star Patrick Kane.
However, Datsyuk did it again and tied the game for the Russians. In what looked to be the winning goal, Fedor Tyutin beat Jonathan Quick, but a review showed that the goal had been moved off its goal post, which is disallowed in international competition. Kane had a chance to win it in overtime, but Russian goalie Sergei Bobrovsky blocked it. In the end, T.J. Oshie was the hero, making four of six penalty shots.
The rest of the games didn’t come close to matching the intensity of the USA-Russia game and for the most part, the rest of the Blackhawks were silent. Michal Rozsival did not play a second for the Czech Republic in a 1-0 loss against Switzerland. Marian Hossa and Michal Handzus did not contribute much for Slovakia as the team suffered a devastating loss to Slovenia, setting up their game with the USA. Both of them were -1s.
As for Sweden, it cruised to a 5-3 victory over Latvia, with the power play being the difference. Marcus Kruger took some face-offs and Niklas Hjalmarsson contributed defensively, but other than that, they were all silent.
Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp and Canada play tomorrow against Finland. The Canadians can finish their group undefeated with the win.
Now that they’ve beaten Russia, the United States should be taken more seriously and Kane should step up. He certainly did today, but failed to end the game, looking visibly upset at missing his chance. In fact, if he did score, it’d be Kane being talked about instead of Oshie. Of course, he won’t have time to feel sorry for himself. The U.S. will face Slovenia tomorrow, the second time since 2010 that American and Slovenian national teams will face each other in a major international competition.
It’s certainly getting frustrating seeing Blackhawks players struggle in these Olympics. But as it keeps being said, there’s still plenty of time in the tournament. The Hawks’ players can break out of their slumps and contribute. But even if they don’t, the possibility of a medal is still alive and well.