First off, to you wet blankets of the world: I know this was just a preliminary round game. It did not matter if the United States or Russia won or lost. Both will advance out of Group A and compete for the gold medal game.
Saturday's shootout victory for the United States over Russia was, from the American point-of-view, the highlight moment in the Winter Olympic Games at the halfway mark of the event.
It had everything that brings drama to a game with two hockey powerhouses.
Questionable calls, a disallowed goal, a pro-Russian crowd with Vladamir Putin looking on, and some gutsy coaching decisions. For the American team, it went from Rocky V, and soon became D2: The Mighty Ducks (if you have not seen D2: The Mighty Ducks, watch the end) when it all came down to a shootout.
For the Russian Federation, this matchup was 34 years in the making. Of course, a lot has happened since that semifinal game in Lake Placid in 1980.
The United States team is not made up of no-name college kids who are taking on a powerhouse squad like the former Soviet Union had back then. Both are made up of NHL and KHL professionals. Regardless, Russia had the American team on their soil this time and wanted to send a message going into the medal rounds. Putin said the whole two weeks, and billions of dollars spent on them, would be worth it if Russia won gold in ice hockey. Even if it was their only gold medal.
It seemed only fair that this game had a five minute overtime and eight round in the shootout to decide the winner. With player selection in Olympic shootouts being different, U.S. head coach Dan Bylsma went with St. Louis Blues center, T.J. Oshie, for the final five rounds.
While Russia went with Datsyuk and Kovalchuk alternating in the extra round, Bylsma's gutsy call sending out the same guy every time to face Bobrovsky worked out. Imagine if the U.S. lost in the shootout. Bylsma would be facing a lot of criticism from the media and fans back home. Talk about being cool under pressure.
Some people were complaining about the lack of America's performance in events like Alpine Skiing, Speed Skating and figure skating, and gold medals coming from the X Games style events like slopestyle and halfpipe, that are new or have only been around since the 2006 games in Turin. With another week of action starting Sunday, those complaints could go away, especially if the men's hockey team makes a run for gold like they did in Vancouver four years ago.
Buckle up, America. It's only the beginning for hockey. It should be a good one. Especially with the talent your country put together for this tournament.