March 1, 2014

Defense Really Does Win Championships (Or Gold Medals)

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Written by: Recultured Team

Well, it’s over. The 2014 Sochi Olympics are finally in the books, and overall, I’d say the sons and daughters of our home and native land did pretty well. Canada finished fourth in the overall medal count with 25, trailing host Russia’s Olympic-best 33. They did even better in terms of gold medals, finishing third overall with 10. However, despite the overall success, everyone knows that one medal meant more to Canada than any other.

And, with the bleary, tired eyes of the entire country on them (seriously, 4:00 am PT start-time?), the Canadian Men’s hockey team went out and dominated. And it might not be the way that most people expected. Coming into the tournament with five of the top 10 scorers in the NHL and the consensus best forward on the planet (Crosby) leading the way, Canada was expected to shellac teams offensively and beat them with firepower. However, that never really materialized – Canada never scored more than three goals once in the tournament and scored two or less goals three times in six games.

What separated this team from the rest of the pack, and frankly, separated them from any other hockey team I’ve ever seen, was the defense. From the first game against Norway, to the gold medal game against Sweden, there was not a second where I was even anxious about the other team getting close enough to our net win a game, let alone actually score enough to win. They closed up lanes, blocked shots, and punished opposing forwards like they were playing NHL 14 on Arcade mode. They took the best players that countries had to offer and made them look ridiculous. Frankly, it was easily the most dominant defensive group that I’ve ever seen assembled on one team.

Canada’s goals against total, three, was the lowest total in the history of Olympic hockey, and goaltender Carey Price ended the games on a shutout streak that, according to TSN’s Bob Mackenzie lasted 164 minutes and 19 seconds. If that’s not an indicator of pure defensive dominance, I don’t know what is. Now, none of these defensive accolades should discredit Carey Price, who was terrific and named the tournament’s best goaltender, but I’m almost 100% certain that you could have put any of the three Canadian goalies in net and gotten a similar result. That defense was too good to do anything less.

That isn’t to say that this defense was all about stopping the other side – Shea Weber and Drew Doughty were one and two in team scoring and their seven combined goals were more than a third of Canada’s total output for the tournament. In addition, Doughty was named to the tournament all-star team.

For all the star power on the offensive side of the ice and in between the pipes, Canada owes its most prized medal of these Olympic games to the blueline. They were dominant to a degree that has never been seen before in international hockey, and it was remarkable to watch.

Image Credit to: Wikimedia Commons

About the Author

Recultured Team
Recultured Team
This is where you'll find the blog posts that the team has contributed to collectively! What team? Wildcats! -Nope, wrong team. Recultured!

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