The hockey part of the Vancouver Olympics are over and the Anaheim Ducks will have seven medals of varying colors making their way back to California shortly. Seven medals are the most of any NHL team.
After a very compressed men’s tournament, Team Finland took the bronze medal by defeating Slovakia, 5-3. That gave Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu another medal to add to the ones already accumulated. This was obviously Selanne’s final game of Olympic competition. He left the games the all-time scorer, but never was able to add a gold medal to the silver and bronze medals he had at home.
The final game between Canada and Team USA was to determine the color of medal that would go around their necks. As bright and shiny as silver is, it isn’t gold.
In a hard fought and well-played game that ended in a 3-2 overtime victory for the Canadians, as a Ducks fan you had to feel a little ambivalent about who to cheer for.
Scott Niedermayer added a gold medal to his burgeoning championship collection. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf got their first gold medals. Perry nearly had that game-winning goal until Zach Parise tied up the game with just :25 seconds left. It was Perry’s 4th goal of the tournament and he and Getzlaf produced as well for Canada as they do for Anaheim.
Both Bobby Ryan and Ryan Whitney had to get the consolation prize of silver medals when Sidney Crosby put the puck on net in overtime and beat the MVP of the tournament, Ryan Miller. It was a hard pill to swallow for the American team, who had been undefeated in the entire tournament, never even going to overtime or a shootout.
The only Duck not to get a medal was Jonas Hiller, as well as prospect Luca Sbisa. Switzerland was knocked out by the US team earlier in the week in the quarterfinals. Hiller may not have any medal around his neck, but he has the respect of every single team that he played against. Hiller gave his team a chance and performed above and beyond the call of duty.
Hiller will be called upon in the final 20 games to be equally strong as he was for his Swiss team. Hiller will have to give his team a chance to win, as they need to realistically win 3 of every 4 games in the last six weeks of the season.
Now the national enemies will go back to being teammates. One can only hope that the experience and excitement of playing in the Olympics will give them the boost to finish off the season with a bang. The Ducks are close to a playoff spot, but close only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes. Maybe curling as well. In the NHL, you are in or you are not and there is no in between. When the playoffs roll around, the Ducks want to be on the inside and playing til the end.