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Jim Cerny's Rink Rap


March 2, 2010 2:57 PM

Gold Medal Regrouping

Crosby Gold.jpgI needed to sleep on Canada's scintillating Gold Medal-winning 3-2 overtime victory over the United States on Sunday before writing about what had happened.

Or maybe I just needed to sleep, because I found myself thoroughly exhausted afterwards.

But that's what a truly great sporting event does to you, right? It exhilerates you so much---starting with the tremendous buildup and following through each riveting minute of action---that when it eventually reaches a conclusion, the viewer is just drained.

That was the case with me by the time Sunday evening rolled around and Sidney Crosby had just set off, perhaps, the biggest party ever in Canada.

As a reporter I have to write my game story as it develops and deliver it right when the action concludes, then wade through the post-game locker rooms and add relevant quotes and facts to my game story. Sunday, aside from Tweeting updates over at the New York Rangers official Twitter during the game, I was not obligated to write a running game story. And it's funny that just watching the game probably wasted me more than if I was reporting on it simultaneously, as I believe I was much more caught up in the drama of the event.

So here I am more than 24 hours after this epic clash, which featured an intensity level that any Stanley Cup Finals Game 7 would be proud of, and I still do not believe I have the right words to convey what a thrilling contest this was.

What stands out to me the most: the intensity and passion that both teams played with---without a let-up---the entire match, as well as the resiliency both squads showed. It's obvious how resilient Canada was, bouncing back from allowing the tying goal with 24.4 seconds left in the third---thatclose to the Gold nad with an entire country breathing down their necks---and then controlling the overtime period until Crosby finally delivered the Gold. But what about Team USA?

The United States stared down a 2-0 deficit, stayed with the game plan, and pulled to within one on Ryan Kesler's second-period goal. Then with three players in behind the defense, they tied the game when Zach Parise banged in a rebound with less than a half-minute to play in the game.

Both teams deserve all the accolades that have been thrown at them. And so does Crosby, individually. No one player carried more pressure throughout this tournament than the annointed Golden Boy of Canadian Hockey. And while his numbers were not staggering great in the Olympics, Crosby did deliver a shootout game-winner earlier in the tourny and the ultimate game-winner in the Gold Medal game.

What does Sidney Crosby do now for an encore after he captained the Penguins to the Stanley Cup last spring and then delivered Gold when it was demanded by his country on home soil? TSN's Matt Burt provides some quality thoughts on all that Crosby, still a baby really at age 22, has accomplished.

I had an interesting chat with Rangers' center Erik Christensen, a former teammate of Sid's in Pittsburgh, yesterday after practice. You could see the relief that Christensen felt for Crosby because, as he explained, Sid the Kid would have been ripped to shreds in his native land if he had not scored in the final two Olympic games and Canada had lost the final to the dreaded United States, something that was oh-so-close to happening.

But Christensen said it would not have been fair. He explained how intelligent a player Crosby is and emphasized all that he does away from the puck, and how his mere presence on the ice draws consistent attention from opposing players, whether he is scoring or not. That opens up ice and opportunities for his teammates. Little things are big things, and Crosby was contributing every shift, noted Christensen.

Christensen thought long and hard trying to find a player to compare Crosby to, in all that Sid does out there on the ice.

"Not Ovechkin," said Christensen. "I don't think Ovechkin does nearly as much out there as Sid does. I'd say he's more like Pavel Datsyuk, because even when he is not scoring he is a force."

Very, very intriguing observation made by one of the more thoughtful players I have had the chance to spend time with in my career.

But bottom line, Crosby also DID score THE GOAL. He will be forever a national hero. Good for him.

And good for the other Team Canada players. And good for Team USA, which captured its nation's fancy over the past two weeks. And good for the game of hockey. The true winners on Sunday were the millions of hockey fans who watched and will tell their kids and grandkids about this match for years to come.

Following are my First Team and Second Team All Olympic Squads:

First Team:

G-Ryan Miller (USA)
D-Shea Weber (Canada), Brian Rafalski (USA)
F-Pavol Demitra (Slovakia), Zach Parise (USA), Rick Nash (Canada)

Second Team:

G-Jonas Hiller (Switzerland)
D-Ryan Suter (USA), Chris Pronger (Canada)
F-Corey Perry (Canada), Marian Gaborik (Slovakia), Ryan Kesler (USA)

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