The men's hockey starts today so here's some bits and bobs to get you revved up.
1 W 2L 1T
That's Canada's record in best-on-best games played in Vancouver over the years.
vs. USSR ('72 Summit Series)
The infamous Phil Esposito rallying cry interview rant of 1972 followed an embarrassing 5-3 loss in which the fans here booed Canada off the ice. Weirdly Team Canada '72 outshot the Soviets 41-31 including 23-6 in the third period in that game so maybe Phil's rant was justified. They did play their butts off in that game but Tretiak stoned them.
vs. USSR ('74 Summit Series)
Team Canada '74 ( the WHA version) played a thrilling 5-5 tie here. Canada were up 5-1 after the 1st on the strength of a Bobby Hull hat trick. One of the best international games played ever.
vs. Sweden ('84 Canada Cup)
Only 9, 456 showed up at the Pacific Coliseum for this penalty-filled (50 minutes in minors) one. The Jekyll-and-Hyde Pete Peeters was sieve-like as Sweden won 4-2. Sweden were captained by Canuck Tomas Gradin and the other Swedish Canuck Patrik Sundstrom did Canada in with two assists in the game.
vs. Russia ('96 World Cup)
Canada opened the tournament here with a solid win. Our own Trevor Linden set up Vincent Damphousse shorthanded to tie the game up halfway through the first but it was the Wayner's two assists on the powerplay in the 3rd that did the Russians in.
Bring 7 or 8 D?
Seven teams are going with eight defencemen and 12 forwards. Five teams are going with seven defencemen and 13 forwards. Czech in '98 and Canada won in '02 with 7D. Sweden won in '06 with 8D.
I'm So Upset
In '98, despite having the best player in the world at the time, Dominik Hasek, the Czechs were the underdog who took it all taking out the USA, Canada and Russia from the quarter-finals through to the final.
In '02 Sweden with that Torpedo-style offence torqued Canada in the opener and looked a sure bet for Gold. Then Tommy Salo missed a line drive and Canada had the easiest of semi-final opponents in Belarus.
In '06 Canada was shut out in three games and Slovakia ended group play undefeated at 5W-oL only to lose to the Czechs in the quarter-finals. But it was Finland going 5-0 in their group, beating the USA in the quarter-finals and shutting out the Russians in the semi-finals thanks to (Holy Kipper!) Antero Niittymaki.
Don't Peak Too Early
So far through three Olympics with the pros, no team who topped their group has won it all.
Czech were 2nd in their group in '98
Canada was 3rd in their group in '02
Sweden was 3rd in their group in '06
A Leaf Is The Key To Glory?
Yes, all three past Olympic Gold Medal squads have a common theme--they all had at least one Make Belief player on them. They also all had one Flyer on them.
'98--Martin Prochazka (Tor) and Petr Svoboda (Phil)
'02--Curtis Joseph (Tor) and Simon Gagne (Phil)
'06--Mikael Tellqvist (Tor), Mats Sundin (Tor) and Peter Forsberg (Phil)
That streak will be broken as no team has both a Flyer and a Leaf on it in 2010.