CANADA Monumentous in Routing Russia 7-3 in Winter Olympics Quarter-finals!

The ice used to be the home turf for the Russians in the Winter Olympics. For many years, they dominated in figure skating and hockey. Yet, this year, they got kicked off their own turf. For the first time ever, they didn’t win a figure skating gold. Now, they won’t even win a hockey medal. Stunning! I wonder how Russia is going to handle that!

In what should have been the Olympics hockey tournament final, Canada faced off against the Russians in the quarter-finals and put on a monumental performance to beat them 7-3. Canada was out to a 3-0 lead before 13 minutes was over, hitting all over and putting huge pressure on the Russian net. The rest was an exciting victory and scoring fest, well, for half the game anyway. The scoring got shut down in the second half of the game, but that was only after 10 goals had been score in the first 32 minutes. When everything was on the line, national pride came through to beat the Russians emphatically!

Canada now await the winner of the Sweden/Slovakia game later tonight for the semi-finals on Friday. The United States beat a game Swiss team 2-0 earlier today to await either the Finns or Czech in the semi-final Friday.

Given how the Canadians have played this tournament, and the awesome line-up of the Russians, I don’t think many thought it was going to be lop-sided, if the Canadians were going to win at all (unless it was out of pride). After losing to the United States on Super Sunday in the round robin, victims of an unearthly performance by US goalie, Ryan Miller, Canada had to play Germany on Tuesday in a qualifying game to get a chance in the quarter-finals against the Russians Wednesday. While the Germans were not expected to be a challenge, it was effort for Canada while the Russians rested. However, the game gave Canada a few much needed tune-ups for this game that they put to good use.

  • Canada got a chance to work on their grinding game, which they applied well to pound the Russians with many a hard body checks tonight right from the get go.
  • Canada got a chance to pocket a few goals and get their scoring touch back.

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First Period

It’s not that they improved their scoring skills in that game, but it’s just nice to be able to score freely in a game environment and get the mentality back. It showed tonight

Canada came out hitting with a crusher by Shea Weber on Ilya Kovalchuk, followed by quick scoring from Ryan Getzlaf just 2:21 into the game. Ryan scored on Russian starting goalie Evgeni Nabokov after a pass by Dan Boyle who had gained the zone. Chris Pronger drew the other assist.
Canada led 1-0

That pressure from the start was kept up throughout the game, though, as the Canadians were constantly buzzing around the Russian net, outshooting them 21-12 in the first period and 42-28 overall. The 21 shots were the most by a Canadian team in a period in the Olympics.

The first penalty came to Canada, on a figure skating worthy spinning dive by Captain Alexei Morozov after being touched by Brent Seabrook. It called by American referee Denis Leroux from way out in the neutral zone. The Canadians killed it off easily enough, with a bonus cruncher on Alexander Ovechkin by Drew Doughty, to avoid losing momentum. However, when Russia’s Anton Volchenkov got a holding penalty next, Dan Boyle scored on the power play at 12:09 on a beautiful passing play from San Jose Sharks teammates Danny Heatley and Patrick Marleau.
Canada led 2-0

Just 46 seconds later, at 12:55, the Russians turned the puck over as Canada came out on a two on one rush. Fed by Mike Richards, Jonathan Toews had the puck and fed Rick Nash, who put it past Nabokov. The crowd, already in a frenzy, went absolutely crazy, prompting Russian coach Vyacheslav Bykov to call a time out.
Canada led 3-0

Smart move, because not long after came the first Russian goal. Dmitri Kalinin scored the first Russian goal by a defencemen of the tournament on a screened shot from Anton Volchenkov. Kalinin shot it past Canadian goalie Robert Luongo’s high glove side at 14:39. Sergei Federov got the other assist.
Canada led 3-1

Canada never lost the momentum, though, as they got back at putting pressure on the Russians right away. It didn’t even take four minutes to pay off as Brendan Morrow walked out from behind the Russian net to jam a back hand through Nabokov at 18:18. Russian centre Sergei Zinovyev, who has a bad knee slightly exaggerated a few days back to be potentially 6 months to heal, had not being able to keep up with Morrow on the play. Dan Boyle got his third point of the period to assist on the goal, while Duncan Keith also got an assist.
Canada led 4-1

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Second Period

The Russians did not choose to replace Evgeni Nabokov to start the second period despite his four goals allowed on 21 shots in the first period. That was the fatal error to blow the game for the Russians as Canada quickly potted a few more goals on him early in the second period.

Cory Perry scored on Canada’s first shot in the second period at 3:10. Ryan Getzlaf’s shot deflected to him and he caught Nabokov still reacting to the deflected shot. Duncan Keith also assisted on his second consecutive goal.
Canada led 5-1

Less than a minute later, at 4:07,  Shea Weber blasted one past Nabokov from the above the right face-off circle. It was assisted by Jonathan Teows and Jarome Iginla.
Canada led 6-1

That chased Nabokov for back-up Ilya Bryzgalov, who didn’t end up faring much better. However, the goalie change gave the Russians an immediate spark. On a couple of passes from Ilya Kovalchuk and Denis Grebeshkov, Maxim Afinogenov burst past Duncan Keith just half a minute later, and scored on Luongo at 4:46.
Canada led 6-2

As before, Canada picked up the intensity immediately, refusing to let the Russian gather any momentum. After five minutes of intense play, Russian centre Zinovyev made a terrible turn over at centre ice. Eric Staal capitalized it to feed Ryan Getzlaf, who then fed Corey Perry to blast a zinger on Bryzgalov at 9:51.
Canada led 7-2

A too many men on the ice penalty at 11:27 gave the Russians an opportunity to stop the flood, and that they promptly did. Sergei Gonchar, on a pass from Evgeni Malkin, put a shot past a screened Luongo at 11:40. However, they could not get anything more.
Canada led 7-3

Despite the four goal lead, a critical hooking penalty by Duncan Keith ended a period on a somewhat uncomfortable note for the Canadians. Four goals isn’t necessarily a safe lead given the star fire power on that Russian line-up. However, the Russians were not able to get anything.

Shots were 10-8 for Canada, leaving it 30-20 after two periods.

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Third Period

The Russians started the third period on the power play, but nothing became of it except a little frustration. Not long after the penalty expired, Volchenko knocked Eric Staal hard into the boards as Eric went to get the puck behind the Canadian goal line. Staal was not touching the puck at the time, but neither interference nor boarding was called. Staal was down for several minutes, but was able to get off the ice on his own.

Sticking up for Canadian pride, Canadian style, Ryan Getzlaf didn’t take long to lay out Volchenkov on a clean hit just minutes later.

Russia then got a too many men on the ice penalty, but Canada was not able to capitalize on it. The pressure Canada put on the Russians up to this point was still present to a reasonable amount, but things got relatively quiet after this. Well, anything is relatively quiet after 10 goals in the first 32 minutes!

To credit, the Russians did play through the third period, but Roberto Luongo stepped up as well. So despite the effort, Russia did worse on the scoreboard in the third period than the others.
Canada wins 7-3

Shots were 12-8 for Canada in the third, leaving the final 42-28 for Canada.

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Alexander Who?

Drew Doughty shadowed Alexander Ovechkin all night, and shut him down just he like on Jan 2 when he played Ovechkin in the NHL. They each played 26:47 that night, where Drew was a +1 and Ovechkin was a -1 without points. Drew made Alexander the Great into Alexander the Late, cause OV never arrived in the game. His only statistical contribution was serving a 2 minute penalty for too many men on the ice at 5:11 of the third period… and a -2 in the game. OV did get hit in the hand oddly by a wrist shot in the 12th minute of the third period, though, but that only limited him for 7 of the 60 minutes.

To be fair, Sidney Crosby was also “absent”. But you know, Sid wouldn’t care, being the team guy that he is.

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Scoring Summary

First Period Scoring
CAN — Ryan Getzlaf (Dan Boyle, Chris Pronger) — 2:21
CAN — Dan Boyle (Danny Heatley, Patrick Marleau) — 12:09 (PP)
CAN — Rick Nash (Jonathan Toews,  Mike Richards) — 12:55
RUS — Dmitri Kalinin (Anton Volchenkov, Sergei Federov) — 14:39
CAN — Brendan Morrow (Dan Boyle, Duncan Keith) — 18:18

Second Period Scoring
CAN — Corey Perry (Ryan Getzlaf, Duncan Keith) — 3:10
CAN — Shea Weber (Jonathan Toews, Jarome Iginla) — 4:07
RUS — Maxim Afinogenov (Ilya Kovalchuk, Denis Grebeshkov) — 4:46
CAN — Corey Perry (Ryan Getzlaf, Eric Staal) — 9:51
RUS — Sergei Gonchar (Evgeni Malkin) — 11:40

Third Period Scoring
None (what happened to all the scoring???)

Full statistics (CTV)

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 9.6

, on passes from Sergei Federov and

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Hollie Shows Nerves of Steel on Top of Singing Talent in Britain’s Got Talent Semi-final 5!

Hollie Steel Semi-final 5It didn’t go as planned, but you know, how often has your life gone as planned? There’s going to be some controversy about it, but let them talk, cause Hollie Steel deserved to be talked about. She brought the unexpected in quite a different way than anybody imagined.

Like all the big contestants in the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent 2009, Hollie showed nervousness. However, she showed the most nervousness and, it seemed, forgot her lines mid-performance! A gorgeous rendition of Edelweiss, from The Sound of Music, just went silent and the poor girl was crying her heart out. It was really a heart wrenching scene to which I will only include a link so you can have an idea from where she came, if you really want to watch it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though, cause it is really hard to watch and I don’t particularly care to see the full video on my blog as a visual reminder.

In the aftermath of that scene, Simon Cowell showed some remarkable kindness by overruling the producers, who said they didn’t have time for Hollie to try again, despite her plea. Simon said they’d find the time Hollie to try again somewhere, without necessarily showing where. Good for you, Simon! If you’re going to be authoritative, use it right!

It might have been the right thing to do, but you know, who was to say it couldn’t happen again? I mean, if Hollie got stage fright the first time, it was going to be a hundred times worse the second time given everyone knew what had happened, including herself! If the post title of Hollie having nerves of “steel” confused you, considering she lost it, what I was referring to was the nerves to go back out and try it again!

At this time, I feel it’s important to point out one thing about performance. People tend to want you to succeed. Even if they were cynical to begin with, like in Susan Boyle’s audition, they jumped on her side after the first line she sung. It was a good line, but not the greatest first line of all time or anything close… and she did set them up to be cynical given her look, gyrations and quirky manners on stage before singing.

However, little Hollie Steel lived up to her name and came back with resilience! She, like Susan and Shaheen Jarfogholi, didn’t have a great start. That could only have put more pressure on her because the cracks were already showing within the first few notes. But she stuck with it, had a only a few more shaky notes (which was fewer than I could say for Susan or Shaheen in the semi-finals), but nailed the rest, including some extremely high last notes!

It was one of the gutsiest things I’ve ever seen anyone do, to not only come back, but come back like that! I completely agree with the judges there.

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Hollie was a bit of a happy crying wreck after it all, not surprisingly, but who wouldn’t? The judges and everyone were on their feet for her. Simon called Hollie “officially the bravest little girl in the world”, and I couldn’t agree more!

Now, this was a second chance that Hollie had. To many people, that was unfair. The other acts didn’t get a second chance. I can see that point, but I ask, are you looking for the best talent, or the best talent on a first go around? That question was going to have to be answered by the people. They would vote in the top three acts. The first one would go through to the finals, and the judges would have to choose one between the other two. The selection process is in a video below, though don’t read on till you’ve watched it unless you don’t care for the results… in which case, why watch it? Would the people thought Hollie deserved a second chance, or would it just be a complementary chance to right herself?

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The public voted in Aidan Davis, and I would agree because he had a stunning routine tonight, without any second chances needed.

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However, they also voted for Hollie Steel and Greg Pritchard, the human cat in heat male soprano singer. That surprised me a bit because I don’t associate Britain with being a land of second chances. America is the land of second chances. You ask all the British actors, actresses and singers who have ever flopped in Britain and came to America and see if they won’t confirm! However, humans are humans, and, in general, the audience wants you to succeed as I said before. Hollie couldn’t be expected to be voted through, but the audience left it in the opinions of the judges.

With those two choices, the judges then made their decision and went for the better talent. It was as simple as that.

SO, here’s the big question I have now. The finals are tomorrow night, on Saturday. That’s the day after this post and Hollie’s performance, if you’re reading later. That’s no time to prepare. What were the contestants told, prepare two numbers? Or would they redo their semi-final acts?

If it were the first, I hope Hollie has something faster and funner. I had hoped she would do something with a little more maturity than something to suit her younger image like Edelweiss, even if not a fast song to show a little more diversity to her talent. Susan Boyle is a one trick singer who can sing the grand parts, but seems to have trouble with anything less than that. That’s great, but limits you to very few songs, especially considering very few are grand all the way through. I think if Hollie does a song something like those faster, more mature songs I had suggested, she could have a chance to win.

However, if the finalists were to redo their semi-final acts, it would not only be a boring show that’s a foregone conclusions to people who had seen the semi-finals. Based on semi-final performances, Hollie doesn’t stand much of a chance to win cause I just don’t think she picked a song that gave her a really good chance to win. Based on the semi-final performances, if they were to be repeated, I’d say Aidan Davis has the best chance to win. He’s got moves, and charisma to go with it. Of course, having another dancing boy winner would start to make BGT a little stale with two of three years’ winners being such, but that’s the only thing really standing against Aidan under this scenario.

Still, phenomenal job to come back and do it the way you did, Hollie! Nerves of Steel, indeed! And hey, say what anyone will about second chances, Hollie still easily had the most memorable performance, two if you count one good and one bad, of the semi-finals! But you know, the masses love people who show their vulnerable side. If she can come back with a great number, what happened in semi-final 5 will only help her.

I hope the contestants were told to prepare two numbers, though, so as to leave some anticipation for the final night. And I hope somebody steps up with something unexpected and amazing cause, otherwise, the auditions would have far outshone the rest of the competition… and wouldn’t that be a bit of a pity in some ways? I mean, if it runs like that, just hold auditions and give them prizes, like recording contracts and so on.

Regardless, can’t wait for the outcome Saturday night! Good luck, Hollie! Whatever happens, you’ve got a special spot in our hearts and one bright future!

Update: Here’s the BGT finals outcome post!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.5