It certainly was a difficult loss for fans of the United States men’s hockey team to swallow, but it should not have been one that was very surprising. Discouraged, and still likely in a sense of shock, Team USA stuttered into the third period down 2-0. Rather than showing any sense of fight, or desperation even, they fired five shots on goal in the third period, rolled over and allowed their Olympic medal hopes to vanish right before their eyes.
Finland, for their part, should not be discredited whatsoever. They played the same great, consistent style that brought them to the medal round, and were once again led by Teemu Selanne who scored two goals in what is likely to be his final Olympic appearance.
For the United States, however, there was certainly an excellent performance amidst an overall lackadaisical effort, and it will bode well for his NHL team, the Chicago Blackhawks. Patrick Kane may have finished these Olympic Games without a goal to his name, but the opportunities he created today (and the momentum that goes with it) should be carried back with him once the NHL season gets back underway once again later this week.
Kane was easily the best American player on the ice, and it felt as if he was attempting to carry the team. He was credited with six shots on goal, a tournament high, and just seemed to be moving with more purpose than his teammates. A highly emotional tournament for Kane certainly ended in disappointment, but Kane was nonetheless mature and candid in his post-game interview.
Those endearing leadership qualities have emerged as Kane evolves into one of the more well-rounded wings in the entire NHL. With the Blackhawks poised to make yet another playoff run, it will be interesting to see if Kane approaches the end of this season any differently.
The Blackhawks certainly don’t need a locker room leader, but it is clear that Patrick Kane has become one of those unique talents who can absolutely affect every game with his mere presence. Now it’s just a matter of constructively using that determination and emotion, and turning disappointment in Sochi into elation in Chicago.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486.