The Olympic Hockey Tournament continued, and once again, Chicago Blackhawks players did not make much noise. It hasn’t been a very good Olympics for these players, despite scoring a few points and the success of their teams. However, their performance has been overshadowed by how their teams have been performing, and it seems as if those teams may have one or two questions they need to have answered.
Patrick Kane was scoreless for Team USA, but that did not matter on the score sheet. Phil Kessel scored a natural hat trick in their 5-1 win over Slovenia (thus avoiding the same fate the US Soccer team suffered the last time an American team faced Slovenia). The Americans did not have the dreaded hangover after the thrilling victory over Russia, and this allowed them to take the group and take the second seeding in the knockout stages. As for Kane, he did not get an assist or goal, but he did make his presence known. The United States will play the winner of the Slovenia-Slovakia game in the quarterfinal. With the way they’re playing, the Americans might just be the best team and most cohesive unit in the tournament.
Speaking of Slovakia, they pushed the aforementioned Russia to another shootout. This time, however, the Russians prevailed in a 1-0 victory. It should be obvious that Marian Hossa and Michal Handzus were also silent. The fact of the matter is, this has been a disappointing Olympics for Team Slovakia. They had a chance to be medal contenders, but injuries to key players have dampened their chances.
And finally, Canada survived a very tough Finland team with a 2-1 overtime win to seal up the third spot in the quarters. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp were separated in a bid by head coach Mike Babcock to generate some offense, but the only goals came from defenseman Drew Doughty, who has done well with Duncan Keith. Watching this Canada team, it’s becoming apparent that this team is not as good as the pundits claim they are.
In fact, they look like a collection of All-Stars thrown together instead of a team built to win on the larger rinks in Europe. It’s certainly possible Canada can get it together in the quarterfinals, of course. But if Sidney Crosby can’t generate any offense at all, then there seems to be a deeper problem with this team. Assuming they don’t pull it together, it’s not likely they’re going to medal.
It’s certainly getting frustrating to watch the Blackhawks’ Olympians struggle in this tournament. It’s certainly good to see them perform for their teams, and as Herb Brooks said, “The name on the front is more important than the one on the back.” The players can still pull it together and step up for their teams. It should be an interesting Medal Round, and there’s plenty of action yet to come.