Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games: Day 16 Recap

Every afternoon, Olympic enthusiast Drew Berner tracks the talking points from the the day’s competitions. Here’s our recap of day sixteen at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

If the gold medal for men’s hockey carried less weight than it ought to, it’s only because Canada has seen such a wealth of hockey drama already, it would have been impossible to raise that bar any higher. While Canada’s men’s team captured gold, beating Sweden 3-0 and controlling the game from beginning to end, earlier victories—the women’s team coming from behind against rival USA to win one of the best hockey games you’ll ever see; the men’s team conquering its own American rivals in a 1-0 semifinal nailbiter—diminished some of the game’s impact.

It wasn’t a particularly thrilling contest, there was no back-and-forth, no concern that Sweden would suddenly flip the script on Canada’s fairy tale finish. Canada played a perfectly balanced game, scoring a goal on 12 shots in each period, passing and checking like they’d been teammates for years while holding Sweden to just a handful of scoring chances. The Swedes’ best opportunity found its way behind Canadian goaltender Carey Price, who was named the tournament’s top goalie, but the puck hit the post and slid back underneath him before it could cross the line.

Jonathan Toews opened the scoring for Canada, redirecting a pass behind Henrik Lundquist for his first goal of the tournament. Sidney Crosby finally scored his own first goal on a breakaway in the second period, then Chris Kunitz, a controversial choice when the team was announced, picked off an errant pass and fired it into the top corner.

Sweden can point to key absences in their lineup as a possible reason for their disappointment—centreman Nicklas Backstrom was held out of the game after testing positive for a banned substance, while other top players Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Henrik Sedin missed the final with injuries. Swedish officials weren’t happy about Backstrom’s situation, and it’s hard not to think Canadians would have been incensed by Toews or Crosby missing the gold medal game for taking the wrong allergy medication. But Sweden was so overwhelmed by Canada’s constant pressure, struggling even to move the puck out of their own end, that having those players in the lineup wouldn’t have changed the outcome. Team Canada played such a complete game on Sunday they would have beaten any collection of players they faced.

In addition to Price being named top goaltender, Phil Kessel of Team USA was named the tournament’s best forward, Swede Erik Karlsson was the top defenseman and the Finnish Flash himself, Teemu Selanne, was named MVP in his sixth and final Games—at 43-years-old, Selanne is both the oldest player ever to score a goal in the Olympics and the oldest hockey medal winner in history.

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Tags: Sochi 2014 Olympics

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