Friday, January 04, 2008

49th Parallel War/Links of the Day

Currently watching the Canada-U.S. showdown at the World Juniors. Good game so far: the first period was a little defensive, but as a Canucks fan, I can hardly complain about that! Canada broke through in the second with a nice goal, and both teams seem to have decided to turn up the offensive pressure as a result. Kyle Turris is having a solid game, and just recorded Canada's second goal on the power play (after the U.S. was called for too many men on the ice) What I find weird about this match is how many, including the Globe's Tim Wharnsby, have labeled the Canadians as underdogs. Sure, they lost once in the group stage this year to a very good Swedish team (who knocked off Russia earlier today to advance to the finals), and came in through a quarterfinal win over Finland, but they've still won the last three world championships, and killed the Russians in the Super Series earlier this year: that deserves a little respect in my books at least. In contrast, the U.S. hasn't accomplished much at this level since their 2004 upset of the Canadians. They have many highly-touted players, but Canada can match them in skill with players like John Tavares and Kyle Turris, and Canada's quotient of hard workers and grinders is second-to-none. The Canadians also realize how important this tournament is to their country, and know they're playing on a national stage: skill guys like Tavares are willing to take whatever role they're given to help the team, while the U.S. philosophy seems to be more about advancing one's own stock and less about the team game. I think that difference in attitude will give Canada enough of an edge to hang on to the lead here and beat the Swedes for the gold.

Also interesting: Canadian starting goaltender Steve Mason got traded right before the game started. Can you imagine that happening at any other tournament?

Links of the Day:
- Alanah's take/open thread on this game
- James Mirtle's thoughts: he also sees the US as favorites
- Wharnsby reports that Canada's set to host the juniors three out of the next four years: should be a nice home-ice advantage
- Zanstorm's review of last night's epic Canucks-Rangers clash
- The Province's Jason Botchford has a nice piece on Ryan Kesler
- Ben Knight has a fascinating column up today: apparently Bayern Munich is trying to lure Jose Mourinho after Ottmar Hitzfeld leaves at the end of the season. That would be something to see!
- Michael Grange has an interesting post on the links between the Raptors and tonight's opponents, the Detroit Pistons
- Bill Simmons' playoff predictions (he also has a cool new column up and some new links)
- Great piece by Dana Kennedy of the Huffington Post on the Tony Parker non-scandal and the woman who started it
- Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a hilarious column picking out the most trite sporting cliches of the year
- Richard Sandomir of the New York Times dissects the problems with Bryant Gumbel's announcing
- The guys at Orland Kurtenblog found a Dan Cloutier mousepad on EBay

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