The Daily Bongo
2010 Winter Olympics: Vancouver
Sunday, February 28, 2010 -- Evening
How Time Flies
When the Olympics start, you wonder what the Games will bring. Before you know it, two weeks have flown by. History has been made. Dreams have either been realized or crushed. The stars of Vancouver's Olympics have been Bode Miller, Apollo Ohno, curling, and the Canadian hockey team. At last those are the stars for me. Now is time for the closing ceremonies, and all I wish is that the fun could just continue. It's time to look forward to the 2012 Summer Olympics, and this summers World Cup. I find myself joyously anticipating the future, loving the present, and embracing the past. Ain't life and sports grand?!
Sunday, February 28, 2010 -- Late Afternoon
I watched the Finland and Slovakia bronze medal game through to the second intermission last night. At the point, Slovakia had a 3-1 lead with goals by the two Marians: Marian Hossa and Marian Gaborik. I went to sleep thinking that Slovakia would hold off Finland to get the bronze. Boy, was I wrong! Now I know I say "Hossa Chokes," but you really have to wonder. It seems whatever team he is on, the prize goes to the other. Two Stanley Cups and an Olympics later, you would have to say that Hossa is the jinx. Finland came up with four goals, two of them power play goals, in the third period, to win the bronze. Absolutely amazing! The bronze medals were handed out right after that match.
Canada versus USA
The gold medal game was this afternoon. Team USA had to reschedule their flights out of the city because the NHL had scheduled their flights based on last year's world championship performance. What I think is sad is that means that the players really didn't have a say in whether or not they wanted to stay to experience the Olympic atmosphere or the closing ceremony, especially since they missed the opening ceremony. Supposedly the players' flights were rescheduled for tomorrow, so maybe they will attend the closing ceremony. The air waves were buzzing with analysis of what it would take for either team to win. Ryan Miller would have to stand on his head. Roberto Luongo would have to keep his head and keep the pucks out of the net. Sidney Crosby would have to raise his game to the next level to ensure a win. Most seemed to agree that the first team to score would have an advantage in the nerves department. The first team to score was Canada with a goal by Jonathan Toews, midway through the first period. After Corey Perry scored the second goal for Canada in the second period, both Luongo and Miller started to come up aggressive attack by the players. At one point, the US players were beating away at Luongo even after the whistle had been blown. As Eddie O was saying during his color commentary, net crashing was an NHL thing, and since both teams are populated with NHL players and the refs are NHL refs, we are seeing an outbreak of net crashing. Towards the second half of the second period, Ryan Kesler scored with an assist by Patrick Kane. The action really picked up in the third period. Both sides were anxious for another goal: the US to tie, and Canada to attempt to seal the deal. Zach Parise scored with 24 seconds left in the game. The game went into overtime. With Olympic/International hockey rules, the overtime is 20 minutes with a shoot out if necessary. Each team could only have four players on the ice in the overtime. It was getting nerve-wracking, but then it happened! Sidney Crosby scored for Canada to give them the gold medal! Poor Ryan Miller! After playing a great game and tournament, he just fell to the ice in disbelief. Miller was definitely not looking happy in the hand shake line. He really didn't make eye contact, but he did smile when Lindy Ruff (his coach in the NHL) congratulated him on playing well. At one point, while the players were waiting for the medal ceremony, the crowd started to chant "Crosby!" Obviously, the US players did not look very happy during the ceremony. As I keep on saying, it's hard to get silver in the Olympics because you feel like a loser, not a winner. Marc-Andre Fleury stood by Martin Brodeur and got a medal. Crosby was the last in line, and when his name was called everyone started to cheer. IOC President, Jacques Rogge, encouraged the cheers. BTW, the final score was Canada 3 - USA 2. Ryan Miller was named tournament MVP.
Saturday, February 27, 2010 -- Evening
Curling is an interesting sport. Like most Americans, I know little about the sport, but watching it in the Olympics, I found myself becoming fascinated with the sport. Of course, that means that I was glued to the TV for this evening's men's gold medal game between Norway and Canada. My first thought is that the pants that the Norway team was wearing were very distracting. They had on a white, red, and grey argyle pattern on the pants. (See the photo.) Of course, I was cheering on the Canadians. They are a very good team, and had disappointment in the last Olympics. That did not distract from hunky, good looks of team lead, Thomas Ulsrud. The first few ends of the game were scoreless, and then they got a point. Once they had the lead, Canada played a good offensive and defensive game to get the win. In the last frame, when Canada was up 6-3, the crowd started to sing the National Anthem. Ulsrud stood behind Kevin Martin, the team lead for Canada, and smiled. I thought that Ulsrud was very gracious in defeat. As Ulsrud said after the match, he would probably be happy later about getting silver, but he was disappointed in losing the gold. That's the huge problem with head to head competitions. You feel more as if you lost the gold than that you won the silver. Right after the match ended, the medals were awarded, with the Swiss team getting bronze.
Hockey's Bronze Medal
Finland and Slovakia are playing an hour from now at 10 p.m. Eastern. I guess that I will be rooting for Slovakia. At least Marian Hossa can get a bronze for all his troubles. Tomorrow's gold medal match between the US and Canada is scheduled for 3 p.m. Eastern.
Friday, February 26, 2010 -- Late Evening
Canada versus Slovakia
The Canadian men's hockey team has really solidified its play over the last few games. When they met up with Slovakia, they came prepared to make it to the gold medal round. Patrick Marleau and Brendan Morrow got goals in the first period, and Ryan Getzlaf got another in the second period to give the Canadians a 3-0 lead at the end of two periods. Things changed in the third period when Slovakia came up with goals by Lubomir Visnovsky and Michal Handzus. With a minute to go, Slovakia pulled its goalie to get an extra man. Marian Hossa almost got lucky in the final five minutes, but it was not to be. Canada goes to the gold medal game against the US with a final score of 3-2. Roberto Luongo did a good job in goal, and will obviously be back in goal on Sunday. Tomorrow will be the bronze medal game between Finland and Slovakia. I hope that Hossa and Miroslav Satan, playing for Slovakia, get the bronze.
Friday, February 26, 2010 -- Evening
I forgot to give some updates on hockey yesterday. Needless to say, Finland eliminated the Czech Republic on Wednesday evening with a score of 2-0, and Slovakia eliminated Sweden with a score of 4-3. Today the US men faced off against Finland. Finland had a break down in the first period. Ryan Malone scored first for US 2:04 into the period. Zach Parise scored at 6:22 to give the US a 2-0 lead. After that, in a span of less than four minutes, the US scored two more goals (by Erik Johnson and Patrick Kane). When Kane scored, Mikka Kiprusoff flew from the goal, to the bench, and got off the ice. Kiprusoff removed himself from the game! Shocking. Then Niklas Backstrom went into the game as the replacement goalie. Unfortunately, Kane and Paul Stastiny scored goals within 15 seconds of each other to give the US a 6-0 lead less than 13 minutes into the first period. After that, the US team backed off a bit. No one wants to rub it in when the other team doesn't show up to play. Jarkko Ruutu tried to start a fight in the second period, which is frowned upon in Olympic hockey. He got a ten minute misconduct. In the third period, US pulled Ryan Miller from goal, and put in Tim Thomas. Finland finally got a goal from Antti Miettinen, but it was too little, too late. US wins with a final score of 6-1.
Canada versus Slovakia has just started. I'll probably have a complete update on that game later tonight or tomorrow morning. It's a Sidney Crosby and Marian Hossa showdown again. I hope that Crosby winds up on top again. it would be great to see a US versus Canada gold medal game.
The medal rounds in women's hockey were held yesterday. The gold medal game was between Canada and the US. What was sad, was that Canada and the US had outscored the other women's teams by 82-4. It makes you wonder if women's hockey is a viable sport for the Olympics. If there are only two teams that any good, why have the farce of having other countries compete? Canada was on fire, especially the goalie, Shannon Szabados, who got a shutout, and Marie-Philip Poulin, who scored both Canada goals. The announcers were saying that Poulin is called the female Sidney Crosby, and both goals were beauties that validated the nickname. Obviously, Canada won with a score of 2-0. It was sad to see the US women crying and very upset at losing the goal. It's sad that the team that gets silver doesn't see the accomplishment in finishing second, as you would with a competition that isn't head to head. I'm sure that they will feel better about it in a few days. Finland beat Sweden to get the bronze.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010 -- Evening
Let's start with first things first: the Czech Republic beat Latvia last night with a final score of 3-2. Jaromir Jagr left the game early, and didn't come back to finish. Slovakia beat Norway 4-3. Today started the quarterfinals. The US was up first against Switzerland. It was a hard fought battle with the US peppering Jonas Hiller with shots, getting 44 in total for the game. There was no score through the first two period. Finally, the US managed to get two pucks by Hiller to get the win with a final score of 2-0. Ryan Miller is playing well in the Olympics, and has a shutout to show for it. Zach Parise got both goals for the US. Right now, Canada is playing Russia. The first period just ended, and it was a scoring fest for Canada. Canada leads with a score of 4-1. Canadian scorers are: Ryan Getzlaf, Dan Boyle, Rick Nash, and Brenden Morrow. Dmitri Kalinin scored for Russia. Canada got another two at the start of the second period, and Evgeni Nabokov was pulled from the Russian goal. Immediately after that, Maxim Afinogenov scored for Russia. There ere a few more goals from both sides, including one from Sergei Gonchar. The second period ended with Canada ahead 7-3. During the third period, things broke down with the Russian team members doing some dirty acts. Dan Boyle got so mad at one point that he slew footed Alexander Semin in retaliation. Someone from the Canadian bench started chirping in Evgeni Malkin's ear, and Malkin clipped the guy in the chin with his elbow. Dirty play has always been a problem with the Russians, and I think they were letting their frustration out at the ass-whooping that they got from Canada. Midway through the third period, Alexander Ovechkin tried to grab a puck with his hand, and when he palmed it, he hurt his hand. Team Canada won, and eliminated Ovechkin and the Russians. Final score was 7-3. Next up is Finland versus the Czech Republic, then Sweden versus Slovakia. I thought it was hilarious when Mike Milberry called the Russian team Euro-trash after the game. Jeremy Roenick agreed that Russia just did not show up to play today.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010 -- Evening
Team Canada's Future on the Line
The Canada hockey team played German team this evening. Whoever loses in any of the remaining games is out. It's now elimination time. I know that I was saying after Canada's loss against the US that I would probably play Roberto Luongo. Well, Mike Babcock heard me, and Luongo was in goal for tonight's game. Don't get me wrong, I love Martin Brodeur, and we all know he is a great goalie. But Luengo seemed hot in the first game, and I probably would have stuck with him for the second game. When you have Brodeur though, you do want to play him. Canada scored first with a goal by Joe Thornton in the first period. The interesting goal was Shea Weber's in the second period. He hit the puck so hard, it went past goalie, Jonas Hiller, and through the webbing at the back of the net. They showed the burn marks from the puck on the netting, and the video of the puck going right through the net. Jarome Iginla got two goals in the second period to give Canada a 4-0 lead. Things heated up when Rick Nash got hocked twice going to the net, and the Canadians got the penalty shot. Because it was Olympic rules, Sidney Crosby got to take the shot, but he couldn't get the puck past Hiller. Marcel Goc got a goal for Germany, which eliminated any hope of a shutout. Crosby finally got a goal in the game in the third period, followed by goals from Mike Richards, Scott Niedermayer, and Rick Nash. Fortunately, Canada moves on to play Russia in the next game. I'm really hoping that Canada wins that game because I really dislike Alexander Ovechkin. Next up this evening is the Czech Republic against Latvia. I won't be staying up for that one, unfortunately. I'm rooting for Jaromir Jagr.
Sunday, February 21, 2010 -- Late Evening
USA beats Canada
The USA/Canada game was a good one. There was tons of action and shoving, and some really nice shots and action. USA took the lead in the opening minute a goal by Brian Rafalski. Eric Staal got a goal to tie things up, but Rafalski got a second goal to give USA the lead. In the second period, Dany Heatley tied things up for Canada, but Chris Drury got the lead for USA, and they didn't relinquish it after that. Sidney Crosby got a power play goal to make the score 4-3, but Canada wasn't able to tie it. The final score was USA 5 - Canada 3. Team USA will get a bye in the next game, which will suck for Canada. It's really hard on the NHL players in the Olympics because they have been playing a tight schedule for the NHL shut down over the Olympics. Most of the teams, like the Pens have already played 62 games, and now they have a tough Olympic schedule. At least the other NHLers who aren't in the Olympics are resting. Too bad most of the key Pens players are in the Olympics.
Sunday, February 21, 2010 -- Evening
Jagr versus Ovechkin
This afternoon, Russian and the Czech Republic played their match. Since the Russians lost their last game in a shootout, they had to win today in order to get a bye for the the quarter final round. Personally, i was cheering on the Czech Republic because I love Jaromir Jagr, and I hate Alexander Ovechkin. Well, Ovechkin and the Russians won out with a final score of 4-2. In fact, one of the big moments was when Ovechkin hit Jagr, knocking Jagr to the ice, and stealing the puck, allowing Russia to get a goal. Jagr said that he wasn't sure if the hit was legal because there was some question about Ovechkin leaving his feet to make the hit. The only think I have to say is that we all know that Ovechkin is a dirty player, so I can believe he would make an illegal hit. At the same time, I will give him the benefit of the doubt. Evgeni Malkin did get two goals in today's game, so I guess that makes it all good in the end.
My Goodness, How You Have Aged!
One thing that I have been hearing is that Jagr has been one of the better players in this Olympic series. People are wondering if he will find his way back into the NHL, especially since his contract will be up with the Russian team he plays for now. I have to admit that seeing Jagr in a close-up during the game make me feel old. I can remember him coming to the Pens back in 1990 as an 18 year old. He looked so young. Now Jagr had grey hairs scattered throughout his beard, and his face definitely has a weathered look. When I thought about it, I realized that was 20 years ago. Wow! LIfe just passes you by as you live it.
Finally! After two Olympics, Bode Miller finally got his gold medal today. Before today's super combined competition, Bode had gotten silver in the super-G, and a bronze in downhill. The super combined is a one day competition where the skiers have a downhill run in the morning and a slalom run in the afternoon. The times of the two runs are combined to give the overall time. Bode said that in the past, he really let emotions rule how he competed. As he said in an interview on NBC, he would really put his all into every event and compete with tons of emotion. The problem is that not taking a reasoned approached to competing meant that he has spectacular wins and, worse, spectacular failures. So Bode thought that he would just be more controlled. The problem is that Bode wasn't feeling as much excitement over his performance or winning, but he noticed that he was more consistently good. Also, I think having a two year old daughter has matured Bode, and changed his perspective on life. Kids have that effect on you. You have to admit that Bode has been consistently good in this Olympics. I'm very happy for him, and glad that he is achieving good results.
USA versus Canada
This evening, the US hockey team will be playing the Canadian team. This should be a really good game, starting in a few minutes at 7:40 p.m. Eastern time. Of course, the game is being broadcast on MSNBC, which doesn't have an HD channel on Comcast in our area. So that means that we have to see the game in non-HD. It's a let down. It makes me wish that they had put the game on CNBC. I think the only reason they didn't is because we will get to see the whole game, and not have curling pre-empt the beginning of the game.
Thursday, February 18, 2010 -- Evening
Curling versus Hockey
Gary Bettman closed down the NHL season for the two weeks of the Olympics because he believed that the NHL stars playing in the Olympics would be good publicity for the NHL. The NHL has had problems building viewership here in the US, because people lost interest in hockey after the lockout in 2004-2005. Part of the problem was the Bettman went for the money to sell the games to Versus/NBC instead of taking less money to stay with ESPN. The number of games that the average person could see dropped significantly. So now we get to the Olympics. Canada has been playing in prime time both Tuesday and today (7:30 p.m. Eastern time). So what happens? The games are hidden away on CNBC, and even though the Canada game started at 7:30 p.m., we missed most of the first period because USA women's curling was shown. Yes, curling! Now, I'm not saying that I don't like curling. I think it's a really neat, fun sport. I became interested in last Winter Olympics in 2006 (the Torino Olympics). What bothers me is that women's curling preempts hockey. So does Gary Bettman think that the is such great publicity for hockey? Pictured here is the USA women's curling team.
I didn't watch any of the hockey games last night because I was busy, but Finland beat Belarus 5-1, Sweden beat Germany 2-0, and the Czech Republic (with Jaromir Jagr) beat Slovaki 3-1. Today, the USA team was back in action, and again, they put a butt whooping on their opponents, Norway. Final score was 6-1. The Canadian team is playing Switzerland as I write this. Sidney Crosby got a stick to the face, and there was a close-up of blood running out of Crosby's nose. There is only 1:40 left in the third period, and the score is tied. Martin Brodeur is in goal for the Canadiens, and Jonas Hiller for the Swiss. The Swiss have been playing well, and the game went into overtime. The game went into a shootout, and the rules are slightly different from the NHL. After the first three shooters, a team can repeat shooters. Crosby went first for the Canadiens, and missed. Through all of the first three shooters for both sides, the goalies one. After Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Ryan Getzlaf tried their hand and lost. The coaches for team Canada, head coach, Mike Babcock, and assistants, LIndy Ruff and Jacquea Lamaire, sent Crosby out again. This time, Crosby didn't fail, and he got the puck past Hiller. It came down to Brodeur stopping Martin Pluss, which he did by gloving it. Canada wins with a final score of 3-2. Later this evening, Russia will be playing Slovakia.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010 -- Evening
Recap of Hockey
Yesterday's Canada versus Norway game was a shutout for Roberto Luengo. Final score was 8-0, and Sidney Crosby seemed to get along on the ice really well with Jarome Iginla. You have to wonder how Crosby would do on a team with some strong wingers/shooters. After the Canada game, well, after I went to bed, Russia, with Sergei Gonchar and Evgeni Malkin, beat Latvia with a final score of 8-2. Malkin also got a power play goal. So far, the Pens, and former Pen, Ryan Malone, are doing a great job in the Olympics.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010 -- Evening
Hockey Day in Canada
Mens' Olympic hockey started today. First up was the US against Switzerland. The US won with a final score of 3-1. Native Pittsburgher, Ryan Malone scored the third goal for the US. Right now, Canada is playing Norway, and leading 3-0 at the beginning of the third period. Sidney Crosby is playing and got an assist on Jarome Iginla. Russia will be Latvia later this evening.
Monday, February 15, 2010 -- Evening
Bode Miller had a good day at the Olympics today. He had a really good run, and got a bronze metal. The difference in the winning time and third place was nine-hundredths of a second, which was the smallest margin between gold and bronze in the Men's Downhill Alpine Skiing event. As Bode said, "It's such a relief to get a medal. The fact that those other guys beat me to the hundredth of a second doesn't bother me." I think that I first started liking Bode when I watched Superstars over the summer. It was a competition over a few weeks where athletes were paired with celebrities. Bode was paired with Paige Hemmis. They wound up finishing second, and that was mostly due to the fact that Bode was a great strategist. He was always coming up with schemes that they could use to win the individual competitions. Since then, I became a huge Bode fan.
Friday, February 12, 2010 -- Evening
Sad Start to the Winter Olympics
The Winter Olympics start tonight, and unfortunately, it did not have a good start. Nodar Kumaritashvili, 21 year old luge athlete from Georgia, crashed, going over the side of the luge track, into metal beams, where he was killed. There are photos of the poor guy getting CPR, but it was to no avail. You have to wonder why they would have such a poor design when you know that the luge guys can always come flying off the track. My sympathies to Kumaritashvili's family.
The Vancouver Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony was this evening. I much prefer the Winter Olympics to the Summer Olympics. I can watch every sport during the Winter Olympics, and even got into curling last time. The Opening Ceremony started with a dance and music display from the various aboriginal groups in Canada, such as the Inuits. Then the athletes entered the stadium. There was one athlete for Bermuda. He had on shorts and a light jacket and looked like he was freezing. It makes you wonder if he thought he was at the Summer Olympics. Surprise of surprises, Jaromir Jagr was the flag bearer when the Czech Republic entered the stadium. The Georgian team came out with a black band on their flag, and the other athletes had black scarfs and somber faces. Ghana had its first Winter Olympic athlete, with an alpine skier. Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, known as the Snow Leopard, was born in Scotland and learned how to ski indoors. What do you expect from Ghana! Iceland, surprisingly, only had four athletes in the games, while India, the most populated country, had three. Ziggy Palffy, former Pen, carried the flag for Slovakia. Peter Forsberg carried the flag for Sweden. USA had 215 athletes. Mark Grimmette carried the flag, but Shaun White had the camera all over him. I'm hoping that Bode Miller does well in his downhill. The Canadians came last as the host country. I was surprised to find out that Canada has never won a gold medal when it is the hosting country. I zoned out during the lengthy dance and music numbers. I guess some people like that, but I always find it boring. After hours of boring dances and speeches, the Games were finally declared to be open. It can't be long now before the flame enters the stadium. The burning question, get it burning question, is who will light the flame in the stadium? Finally, after a boring k.d. lang song, we hear that it will be 12 minutes before the flame enters the stadium. The flame finally entered the stadium connected to Rick Hansen's wheelchair. He is a para-Olympian. He passed it to Catriona Lemay Donn, speed skating gold medalist. She passed the flame to Steve Nash, NBA star. He gave it Nancy Green, most successful Canadian alpine skier. She's also a senator for Ottawa. Wayne Gretzky was the final person to run with the flame. All five people who had the flame still had lighted flames, as they all stood around, and the announcers said that there might be a mechanical failure. Both Gretzky and Nash looked very awkward and embarrassed. Three of the four caldron arms started to raise. Unfortunately, the four arm was stuck. Three of the four lit an arm. It was hard to see who did not get to light the arm, but it looked like it might have been Steve Nash. Since the cauldron was indoors, and the flame is supposed to be visible for miles around, outside, Gretzky ran out of the stadium to light the outside cauldron. Gretzky was driven across town to light the second cauldron. Tomorrow the competitions begin.
Friday, January 1, 2010 -- Early Evening
Ryan Malone and Brooks Orpik Make USA Hockey Team
Ryan Malone, Pittsburgher, former Pen, and current Lightning, has been named to the USA Hockey team for the coming Olympics. Also named to the team is current Pens' defenseman, Brooks Oprik. As we all thought, Ryan Miller and Tim Thomas were bath put in the goalie spot, along with Jonathan Quick from the LA Kings.
December 30, 2009 -- Evening
Crosby and Fleury: Olympians
The Canadian Olympic hockey team members were named today, and both Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury made the cut. The Vancouver Olympics will be from February 12 through February 28. Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luengo are the other goalies who will be on the team. Crosby will be an alternate capital. Scott Niedermayer is the captain, and Chris Pronger and Jarome Iginla are the other alternates.