Looks like big brother beats little brother up again. I like how the announcers were all mystified that the Czechs had "awakened" or whatever, and couldn't figure out the reason why. Dude, notice that it happened after they fired Vokoun? Players do better when they're not worried that their goalie isn't going to be able to stop an unscreened shot from the blueline.
Thank you, Canada, for scoring two softies on him, and making his bad play impossible to ignore and getting him fired. I hope his level of play stays that way for the rest of the season. :P (I actually like Vokoun and think he's a very good goaltender, but he's just not playing well right now for whatever reason. Maybe Nashville wore him out. Maybe Detroit traumatized him. *shrugs*)
I had tentative confidence in the Czechs because they seem to do well against the Slovaks for some reason. They interviewed Demitra after the first period and he was talking about how the guys were playing "afraid" and totally different from how they'd played so far. It's like the certain teams doing well against others in the NHL phenomenon, but on an international scale.
Oh, Nabby, Nabby, Nabby.
Thank goodness he signed that contract extension before the Olympics. :P
I'm very happy with how he's played so far; he's exceeded my expectations, but not wildly. He's been solid, made quite a few key saves, hasn't had to deal with his team abandoning him defensively, and had quite a bit of luck, too.
If the game had gone to a shootout, and Nabby had been fucking brilliant, I would want my money back.
Of course now analysts are going to be all "ooh" and "ahh" at his GAA and how he's all wonderful and how he's a surprise, and totally overhype him and stuff. Which I will roll my eyes at in a smugly superior manner!
Ray Ferraro was predicting a Czech Republic/Russia gold medal game and that would kill me. I'd be like that cartoon bear that's trying to run in two directions at the same time. Even today when I was excited about Ovechkin's goal, right after that I saw Bertuzzi coming out of the box and I was like, shit, they're going to blame him for that one. And like, Nabby stoned Joe Thornton!!! And a bit later, aww, Nabby stoned Joe Thornton.
I'm worried about Finland, though. IMO, they're the team that's looked the best so far. Nittymaki is not Brodeur, but he doesn't need to be, and he's very solid. Finnish defense has been the best I've seen so far, and that Selanne/Koivu/Lehtinen line is crazy good. All three players are fantastic and working well together.
Ovechkin and Kovalchuk are "make things happen" kinds of players, and they'll need to be on to beat the Finns. *hopes* I want to see Nabby come back with a medal. :P And then he can sit on the bench with his medal for like, 3 games or so, and them come back and play, hee!
An article that fills me with pride! :D
Nabokov the best goaltender on the best team at the Olympics
BY ANN KILLION
Knight Ridder Newspapers
TURIN, Italy - Evgeni Nabokov picked one heck of a time to get hot.
After struggling through the first half of the NHL season with the San Jose Sharks, Nabokov is suddenly the best goaltender in the world's most high-profile hockey tournament.
And you know what that means?
That when he comes back to San Jose he may be wearing a gold medal.
Hot goalies lead to gold in the Olympics. And Nabokov is molto caldo. Led by his stellar play in goal, Russia felled the Goliath of this tournament, shutting out mighty Canada and causing an entire nation to mourn.
"Obviously, it's huge when you beat Canada any time," Nabokov said. "We are not used to it."
North America is toast in this tournament. Within a few hours of each other on Wednesday night the United States and Canada both were eliminated from the Olympics. The chairs in the Olympic village have officially been warned.
Of the remaining teams, Russia is the favorite. The Russians have speed, size, skill, youth.
And they have Nabby.
"I'm just trying to do my best," he said. "I just want to be consistent."
Consistency is something Nabokov lacked through the first half of the NHL season. For the first time in his career, he hasn't been a sure bet in goal for the Sharks. He was even the subject of trade speculation before signing a four-year, $21.5 million contract shortly before the Olympic break.
"At the start of the season, I had a little bit of an injury," he said. "I was up and down. I tried to concentrate on my game and not pay attention to what else was going on.
"This sport is tough. The NHL season is so tough."
His new wealth and security seem to agree with him. Or maybe it's slipping on the red Russia jersey, which he said feels different than teal.
"Definitely," he said.
This is the first time that Nabokov has played for Russia in the Olympics. He was barred in the past because he once represented Kazakhstan in internationally sanctioned tournaments. Though he grew up in Kazakhstan, Nabokov is an ethnic Russian.
The Olympics are a matter of pride, and Wednesday's game was a matchup between two of the proudest hockey powers. Russia - which plays Finland in the semifinal - would like to reclaim the status the Soviet Union held as the dominant Olympic power.
They're celebrating today.
"I think everyone at the Olympics will drink a lot of vodka," said 20-year-old NHL rookie Alexander Ovechkin.
Reigning gold medalist Canada was a heavy favorite coming in and liked to boast that it could easily field two Olympic teams. But the Canadians had struggled offensively, were shut out twice and impotent on the power play.
"We lost because we couldn't score," said coach Pat Quinn.
And they couldn't against Nabokov. He stopped all 27 shots he faced, including a flurry in the final three minutes as the Canadians became increasingly desperate. One of those, by his Sharks teammate Joe Thornton, almost slipped past him.
"I was just concentrating on the puck," Nabokov said.
The breakthrough goal was scored on a Russian power play early in the third period when Chris Pronger couldn't clean the puck out for Canada. Former Shark Viktor Kozlov gathered it in and fed it to Ovechkin, who shot it past Martin Brodeur. That was all Nabokov needed, though Russia added an insurance goal in the final seconds.
"Nabokov and our defense kept holding, kept holding," said Alexei Yashin. "And we finally got a chance on the power play."
Nabokov has now pitched three shutouts in this tournament, against the best players in the world.
"There's lots of talk about how our offense is, but defense is something we've been working on," he said. "And the best defense wins the tournament."
And so does the best goaltender.
And right now that's Nabokov.
The announcers totally slashed Marcel Hossa and Marian Gaborik during the game! They said that they were "involved" with each other in the off-season and they'd go off to the mountains together (to their log cabin of manly love) and like, go cross-country skiing together or whatever.