February 22, 2014

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle:

A place to discuss the sports stories that aren't making news, share links that aren't quite front-page material, and diagram plays on your hand. Remember to count to five Mississippi before commenting in anger.

posted by huddle to general at 06:00 AM - 12 comments

What a way for Selanne to go out.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 12:24 PM on February 22, 2014

What a way for Team USA to go out.

From offensive juggernauts, to being shutout in the two most important games of the tournament.

posted by grum@work at 12:27 PM on February 22, 2014

Remember the Golden Rules:

Defense wins championships (and bronze medals too).

Singles hitters drive Chevrolets; home run hitters drive Cadillacs (and watch the world series on TV).

You drive for show and putt for dough.

There are probably a dozen related sports cliches like the above, but the last 2 games by the US show the truth of the above. Given a couple of guys who can score, a somewhat above average goaltender, and tight TEAM defense, you can usually defeat even the most high-scoring squad. Perhaps the talent is not there, but the US team looked like it was selected on the basis of goal scoring ability rather than 2-way hockey ability. Finland had only to look at the US-Canada tape to see what would work against USA. A bad bounce, slight defensive mistake, momentary lapse, and the scoring opportunity was there for the Finns. Meanwhile, Finland turned the neutral zone into mud, prevented clean breakouts by the US, and collapsed to the front of the net when in their defensive zone. The US team did not have the pure skating advantage over Finland or Canada that it had over just about everyone else in the tournament, so taking the puck wide and moving through the neutral zone on the perimeter were out of the question. USA Hockey might need to take a long, hard look at those who have selected and coached this team.

Of course, it may well be moot. The Tavares injury will go a long way to discouraging NHL participation in the Olympics. Whether to continue to build the sport in North America via Olympic participation or to continue to build solely through the NHL and college hockey is a tough question to answer.

posted by Howard_T at 01:54 PM on February 22, 2014

How big was Rask's flu bout for the game against Sweden? Jeesh.

posted by NoMich at 03:26 PM on February 22, 2014

How lucky were Chelsea today? One goal in the game and it comes off an at the very least questionable foul given. Otherwise Everton were very much up to the task of stopping Jose's boys, who themselves got off with a very home team level of thugball.

posted by billsaysthis at 04:01 PM on February 22, 2014

The Tavares injury will go a long way to discouraging NHL participation in the Olympics.

Garth Snow's Olympic experience ended with fuck all, which is why he can huff and puff about how it should be an amateur competition. That horse, it has bolted. You might as well whine about the risk of playing outdoor games.

Let's revisit in four years' time. If it's still brewing, then somehow I don't think you'll see Finns and Swedes and Canadians responding particularly well to the suggestion they shouldn't travel to South Korea.

posted by etagloh at 05:29 PM on February 22, 2014

Re the Olympic hockey -- I wouldn't read too much into a team's performance over two games in a single elimination tournament (or even the four games that preceded it). It's a fun little tournament, but it is basically a crapshoot once you get to the semis. The U.S. just looked flat in the Canada game, and today seemed to be the classic third-place game syndrome (which obviously didn't affect Finland, though); they just looked completely uninterested and like they could not get on the plane fast enough. Would love to see U.S.-Canada or any of the other possible combos with the semifinalists over best of 7.

posted by holden at 11:29 PM on February 22, 2014

How lucky were Chelsea today?

You mean in that they were playing Everton. Every week I have to remind myself, "You started rooting for them hoping for a 'Red Sox-like experience'. Unfortunately, you got one." They are Buckner-esque this year.

posted by yerfatma at 09:20 AM on February 23, 2014

Here's a NYT piece on the question of participation in 2018 which notes that not only do the players want to go to Korea -- and the CBA gives them a role in the decision -- but NBC can also make fairly pointed suggestions as broadcast rights-holder.

Frankly, the Islanders' GM talking about refunds would be funny if it weren't sad, given the team's performance in recent history.

posted by etagloh at 09:38 AM on February 23, 2014

Everton under Martinez are not the Everton of years past, Fatty. Or at least not of the 13 years past. This squad did not sit back and defend to the exclusion of attack.

posted by billsaysthis at 11:41 AM on February 24, 2014

I get that. They now seem to have a singular genius for coughing it up at the last moment in big games (this is only a couple of weeks after losing to Tottenham in a similar situation). Hopefully the return of Lukaku will help; the offense seems bereft of ideas without a big body up front to target.

posted by yerfatma at 12:46 PM on February 24, 2014

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