Around the Rink – February 22 Edition

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

USA Hockey vs. Team Canada

  • The two unbeaten teams in Group A faced off Sunday evening in preliminary play in what would be an exciting showdown televised on MSNBC to determine which team would get an automatic bye into Wednesday’s quarterfinals. It was USA hockey who pulled the upset to remain undefeated in preliminary play (3-0-0), topping Team Canada 5-3 in a very exciting hockey game on Sunday night.
  • With Sweden’s 3-0 win over Finland last night/early this morning to also finish 3-0-0 in preliminary play, USA Hockey took the top overall seed in the tournament thanks to its higher goal differential. The U.S. will play the winner of the Switzerland-Belarus game. Canada will have to take on Germany, which is coached by former Wing Uwe Krupp, on Tuesday and win in order to advance to the quarterfinals where they would face Russia.
  • Red Wings’ defenseman Brian Rafalski scored two first-period goals (giving him four straight goals for USA in three games), including his team’s go-ahead goal of the night 22 seconds after Canada had tied it up at one-all. He was on the ice for four of USA’s five goals and it was his blast from the point that just went off of Jamie Langenbrunner’s skate for the fourth marker of the night for the U.S. and ultimately the game-winning tally. USA’s Ryan Kesler clinched the game, scoring an empty-netter to hand the U.S. a 5-3 advantage with 44.3 seconds remaining in the game. Excellent goaltending from Michigan State alum and brother of the Wings’ Drew Miller, Ryan Miller, maintained USA’s lead late in the third period despite a ton of pressure from Team Canada, facing 45 shots in all and 14 in the final frame.
  • “I think so,” Rafalski told NBC after being asked if the first period’s intensity was as he expected. “It was fast paced. It was good to get those two goals…I was just given the opportunities…They’re going in for me right now.”
  • Rafalski spoke to NHL.com right after USA’s win, stating that his family had just arrived Saturday night and now he can spend some time with his family on the team’s day off today. DRW.com posted a video spotlight on Rafalski on Monday morning.
  • The upset win resulted in a ton of media coverage with game recaps or commentary, including ESPN.com, Newsweek, The New York Times, Toronto Star, National Post, and Vancouver Sun.
  • Former Wing Brendan Shanahan commented on what the USA braintrust was likely thinking after the win over Norway and heading into the big game on Sunday.
  • Starting goaltender for Team Canada, Martin Brodeur, talked to NHL.com about the US-Canada rivalry on Friday.
  • GM Ken Holland spoke with NHL.com’s Heidi Adrol about his role with Team Canada. He continues to contribute material to the Detroit Free Press here, here, here and here.
  • Ken Holland’s daughter Julie has done some writing of her own, blogging about her experiences for DetroitRedWings.com, commenting on everything from the weather to the hockey action.
  • Team Canada’s Executive Director and the Wings’ vice president Steve Yzerman told NHL.com on Friday that he was pleased with his roster so far.

Winter Olympics Update

  • Team Sweden defeated Belarus, 4-2, on Friday night with Wings’ forward Johan Franzen scoring the game-winning goal. Captain Nick Lidstrom and Niklas Kronwall each posted a plus-one rating in Group C preliminary play. Per the Grand Rapids Press, “Grand Rapids Griffins defenseman Sergei Kolosov saw 11:38 of ice time and finished with a minus-1 rating for Belarus.”
  • Sweden and its four Wings players took on Finland and the Wings’ Valtteri Filppula late Sunday night/early Monday morning with the game starting at 11:55 p.m. EST. The Swedes ended up blanking the Finns, 3-0. Wings’ forward Henrik Zetterberg led Sweden’s penalty kill, which “had to kill off five penalties in the second period, including a pair of 5-on-3s totaling 1:39.” By winning Group C, Sweden will face the winner of the Slovakia-Norway in the play-in round according to the LA Times.
  • Despite the loss, the Finns still earned a bye into the quarterfinals as the fourth seed thanks to owning the highest goal differential outside of the Group A-C winners. Finland “will play either Latvia or the Czech Republic on Wednesday.”
  • DRW.com puts the spotlight on defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who is representing Sweden for the second time in the Winter Olympics. The Detroit Free Press notes that Kronwall “said he likes playing this Olympic tournament on the smaller rink because it promotes a more physical game.”
  • Pavel Datsyuk, Sergei Fedorov, and the rest of Russia’s squad played rival Czech Republic Sunday afternoon. Thanks to two goals from Evgeni Malkin, Russia grabbed a 4-2 win to give them the Group B title and an automatic bye into the quarterfinals. Datsyuk scored an empty-net insurance goal with 13 seconds left in the game. He also assisted on Malkin’s first tally, which was the opening marker of the contest.
  • Eight Legged Freaks reminds us which Red Wings players are representing their respective countries and how they are expected to contribute.
  • George Malik of Snapshots makes his Red Wings-related Olympic observations.
  • Abel to Yzerman blogged about the wake-up calls that have already happened in this tournament.
  • For a complete schedule of all of the hockey games in Vancouver, visit DRW.com.

Red Wings News

  • NBC picked up the Wings-Blackhawks game on March 7 as its “Game of the Week” per the Detroit Free Press. The game is slated to start at 12:30 p.m. EST.
  • Snapshots provides an update on Jiri Hudler, including a note about him not playing for the Czech Republic in the Olympics and if he could return to the Wings after the conclusion of the KHL’s 2009-10 season.
  • Looking for some Red Wings’ hockey action to get you through Olympic Break? Well, DRW.com posted 60 minutes of highlights from the Wings’ 1986-87 season to help you do just that.
  • The Chicago Wolves re-signed former Wings’ defenseman Chris Chelios “to a third 25-game contract on Friday” per ESPN.com.
  • There is a new Red Wings’ blog on the block that I wanted to point out to our readers. Please welcome Wings Win, Eh? to the Red Wings’ blogosphere!
  • Kyle of Winging It In Motown attended Friday’s Griffins game and took a chance to scout the Wings’ prospects.
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