Once again the Bruins found themselves on the ice representing their countries in the 2014 Winter Olympics. This time around, it was the Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and Team Slovakia taking on our very own Team USA. Team Canada had Patrice Bergeron(as a winger on the fourth line) taking on Team Norway. Finally, the Finnish wall Tuukka Rask suited up for his country in a battle against Team Austria. Two of our Bruins saw a win for their team, and the other saw a rather crushing defeat.
The victory went to Canada today in a 3-1 win over team Norway. I think it’s safe to say we all assumed it was going to be a cake walk for Canada. Canada could have fielded two teams in the Olympics. (I dare say the provinces could have each sent their own team and there is a solid likelihood that the provinces would have swept the medals.) Canada’s talent pool is so extensive (Bergeron is to team Canada as Jordan Caron is to the Bruins.), and the only NHL level player that team Norway had was Mats Zucarello of the New York Rangers.
Norway made a game of it though. While Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens did stop nineteen shots on twenty (.950 save%), Norway did a rather decent job defending against one of the best Olympic teams ever put together. Patrice Bergeron played an important role in Canada’s win. Patrice put up two assists for Canada’s first two goals, earned two minutes in penalty time, had a +2, won three out of four face offs, put in eighteen shifts, and did all of this in just under eleven minutes (10:59) of ice time. Perhaps its time to move Bergy up a line, eh Canada?
The US-Slovakia match had Zdeno Chara taking on another well constructed team. Ex-Bruin Phil Kessel was all over the place for Team USA. He played so well, that a lot of Bruins fans temporarily forgot how much he hated Boston and wanted to get out of the city. Phil Kessel had a three point game, Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks had a four point game. While the US only out shot Slovakia 33-23, Team USA chased Jaroslav Halak out of the net, and then put two more goals in on Peter Budaj less than a minute apart. It was a total rout of the Slovakians, and the US sailed to win its first game, 7-1.
There is something that needs to be said about Zdeno Chara though. If you look at the box score of the game, you’ll see -2, -3, and a few -4 on the plus/minus for Team Slovakia. If you look at Zdeno Chara’s plus/minus, you’ll see that he was even. He played eighteen minutes plus, had three shots on goal, and while he was on the ice, he kept the shooting gallery that Team USA had opened on his countrymen to a minimum. While it is not a win for his country, Bruins Nation can say our captain got himself a personal win out of that game.
Finally, the world got to find out what time it is, and in Sochi it was certainly ‘Tuukka Time’. Apparently Michael Grabner of the New York Islanders forgot to bring his watch and showed why we’ve had so much trouble against them this season. Grabner ended up scoring a hat trick against Tuukka. Thankfully, the Finns put on an impressive show of firepower that just overwhelmed Austrian net minder Bernard Starkbaum. They fired off fifty-two shots to Austria’s twenty, and took the match handily, 8-4. While Tuukka’s save percentage wasn’t exactly stellar (.800 save%), it was a win for the Bruins goalie and a solid game for Finland.