In praise of Bobby Ryan

In praise of Bobby Ryan
"The biggest thing is just his poise and his hands are unbelievable. I played with [Evgeni] Malkin and [Sidney] Crosby, and those guys are probably the two best in the league. Bobby's hands are right with those guys... He's a superstar in the making, it seems."
---Ryan Whitney, former Ducks defenseman

Friday, February 26, 2010

Team USA vs Team Finland Semifinal

Wow... action in the first three minutes of this game! Yours truly is blogging while watching, not always an easy thing to do, especially when the action comes as quickly as it has in the early minutes of the Team USA/Team Finland matchup.

Also known by Duck fans as: "I want to cheer for Team USA but I really want to see Teemu and Saku finally win gold for their last Olympics!"

Only two minutes into the game and Finnish netminder Miikka Kiprusoff makes a HUGE mistake. He comes out of the net to face a rolling puck, but turns it over to Ryan Malone just within the blue line, who slams it home to an empty net.

The Team USA bench bursts into cheers and elation.

The confidence is contagious, and you can practically see those young Americans swell with pride as they realize they might actually have a shot at this. My boy Bobby Ryan, as I suspected, is being used on a checking line along with other big boys David Backes and Ryan Callahan.

This is definitely an aggressive game. You need a big checking line when physicality counts as much as it does today.

I'm in awe watching this game. In the first period alone, it's a USA goal landslide.

Zach Parise...

Erik Johnson...

Patrick Kane... twice...

Paul Stasny...

And that's just within the first 13 minutes of this game. Of course, two Finnish penalties don't help Team Finland's cause.

Those of you watching this live with me, we are witnessing the complete disintegration of an Olympic hockey powerhouse. In a way, it's sad, because we have Ducks on this team too. And knowing this will be the last Olympics for Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne, a big part of yours truly wanted to see them finally win Gold.

I don't like faulting the goaltender, but in this case, I think it's hard not to. Kipper should not have started that ball rolling. He's pulled after the 4th USA goal, but the damage may have already been done. Niklas Backstrom takes over the Finland net, allows two more goals before the end of the first, but stops the bleeding at that.

The second period goes without many interuptions at all, and while Team USA has slowed some in their aggressiveness towards the net, they are still backchecking, still forechecking, still playing physically, and trying to stay out of the sin bin.

Team Finland is playing hard, but after being rattled so badly in the first, they can't seem to get many shots to Team USA netminder Ryan Miller.

Miller, by the way, is doing splendidly. Many have him pegged as the MVP for Team USA's effort.

During the third, the Finns come harder, but Miller denies every attempt. With about half the period to go, Miller is changed out for backup goalie Tim Thomas. Yours truly thought this a classy move, as Timmy has gone on record to say it has always been a dream of his to play in the Olympics. At age 35, one would suspect Thomas may not likely return in four years.

Miller is given high-fives and salutes on the bench as he prepares to watch the rest of the game with his mates. Bobby even retrieved a game puck to give to Miller as a token of his incredible 100+ minute Olympic shutout run.

A collective Duck-fan gasp sounded as Bobby was struck point blank by a puck to the left side of the head. He was able to get off the ice, and was shown hunched over on the bench with a bag of ice held against his ear. Luckily, the puck went off the helmet and there was no blood or broken bones.

Hey, we need that boy for our playoff run!

The Finns are rewarded for their efforts with a power play goal against Timmy with about five minutes left in regulation, but that's the only mark they'll make in this semifinal game.

The Americans trounce Finland in a 6-1 landslide and move on to the gold medal game this Sunday. Yours truly is happy... and sad at the same time.

Photo courtesy Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

Some stats and numbers:
- Bobby spent 8:44 on the ice and had one shot on goal.
- Ryan Whitney spent 11:06 on the ice.
- Teemu had one shot on goal in 13:44 ice time.
- Saku had two shots on goal in 13:36 ice time.


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