The NHL vs. Olympic Hockey; “Will the Empire Strike Back, or will we witness A New Hope?”

I want to believe that predictions need only be based on players and statistics. I want to believe I have a grasp on what it takes, on a conceptual basis, to predict who will win a hockey game. It is true, however, that this year’s hockey Olympic campaign has been lead by nothing more than luck and nothing less than heart. In my past predictions, I cannot make a confident plea of ignorance towards this fact, when talentless team logos paint my clothes and bedroom walls, and I cannot make this plea when I knowingly disregard statistics in my own analyses more often than not. That being said, there should be no “opinion” against the fact that heart was the driving force behind what it was that lead Slovakia over Sweden, Finland over the Czech’s, and most notably, Canada over Russia. Canada stood on the brink of elimination, to the only team that could have and should have defeated them. It wasn’t that Russia didn’t show up, and it wasn’t that Canada had something to prove. They simply just played to the very best of their abilities, and that best was absolutely dominant. I by no means, nor did anybody, underestimate what the Canadians could do this year. It was apparently on overestimation towards some of the stronger forces to emerge out of the preliminary rounds, and a misconception as to the level of their drive and dedication, that created such a slew of inaccurate predictions. On paper, Russia had their Dream Team. Federov and Ovechkin playing for one team, in the same era, complimented by a plethora of young talent. No one stepped it up. Canada had their Dream Team, and everyone stepped it up.

On the flip side, Team USA has talent, but nowhere near the game changers, all stars, or legends present on the above mentioned teams. Team USA however, had something I consciously neglected that they could acquire in such a short time, and I credit their ability to acquire it on Ron Wilson their coach, and Brian Burke their GM. What they found was chemistry. Hockey is all about chemistry, which may be one of the reasons people are so turned off by it. Chemistry in sports  is the ability for a team to gather everyone’s will to win, and everyone’s individual contributions towards that will, and create and carry one driving force, one heart and one single dedicated effort, to victory. I have been proven wrong, so far, throughout the playoffs and tournament, however I feel comfortable to say, that if Team USA makes it into the bronze medal game, to face either Slovakia or Canada, given this scenario, they will emerge victorious. If they are able to beat Finland, and make it into the gold medal game, and they meet Canada, I believe after three straight victories, Canada will not be bettered again, by a weaker and less intelligent American Team. If Slovakia pulls of a “miracle” spoiler, expect to see the gold medal hanging around the necks of the Americans. I don’t see Canada leaving without a medal, and I don’t see Team USA not beating Finland, however in the back of my mind somewhere, I still see a reality where Russia wins gold, and a force, unlike anything we’ll ever see before, disappoints the Canadian hopefuls. I guess what I am trying to say, is that with some many factors intangible to simple sight and analysis, in this Olympic hockey campaign, and within the next couple of days, anything goes.

This questioning of my own expectations and the unpredictable outcomes yet to be realized within these Olympic Games, have lead me back, inexplicably, to the Boston Bruins. I predicted earlier a 7th place finish within the Eastern Conference and predicted only recently, a first round playoff departure. I can not in my right mind, predict such a poor outcome. I want a Cup, and I want it for the sake of the Bruins followers, their diminishing following and for the National Hockey League. I want Chara to embrace the cup as Orr did, and I want Thomas to stick around, and finish his career as a Bruin, with heart and a desire to play for the Hub. If the NHL gets a finish like that of these Olympic Games this year, there is still a hope, and still a possibility of redemption. If the Bruins find themselves within the final 20 or so games to finish this season, I want them to do it under the pretenses of this same Olympic awareness. I want them to “create and carry one driving force, one heart and one single dedicated effort, to victory.”

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