Originally, my subtitle for this episode was “…friggin Finns!”, but you really can’t blame them for doing too well. It’s what they were trying to do.
A few days ago I wrote that it looked like a contest between Russia and Canada. Those who read the comments around here might have picked up that the Finns weaseled their way past the US team in a shootout. Not shocking that the Finns beat the United Statesians, but a shootout? In a single-elimination tournament? That’s just plain nuts. That’s just TV stations wanting to make sure the game doesn’t run too long.
Shootout? pf. It’s not hockey.
So the Finns moved on to face the Russians. It was a good game. I think the Russians were taking the win for granted, but it went 1-1 into overtime. The Moscow crowd was going completely nuts.
Then the Finns scored, and the game was over.
Imagine a balloon filled with gasoline fumes popping without a sound. Whoosh, and that’s all there is. In the aftermath Russian players were staggered, unable to hold themselves on top of their skates.
I was in the wrong city last night. On the TV there were astonishingly beautiful women weeping because their hockey team had lost. A woman weeping over hockey is the second sexiest thing I have ever seen. I fell in love with one woman right there and then, so shattered was she. If you want to review the footage, track that girl down and tell her there’s some dissolute American writer who wants to marry her, go right ahead. But – she was weeping alone! Were the Russian men so caught up in the horror that they were unable to offer comfort, or are beautiful women weeping over hockey so commonplace they merit no consolation? What the hell is wrong with you guys over there? She’s hot! She loves hockey! She’s sad!
It’s probably delusional to think that were I on the scene that I would do any better, but any place where pretty girls weep over hockey is a place I want to be.
So, the Finns won, to set up today’s games. The Russians demolished the Swedes (don’t be fooled by the 3-1 score, it wasn’t that close and the Russians weren’t trying) for third place, and looked bored doing it. The home crowd was quiet. They had not recovered from the night before. The championship game’s not over, but the Canadians are having a pretty easy time with the Finns. How much better it would be, how much more fun, if the Russians were playing and the crowd was in full voice. Canada probably is the best team this year, but I’d give Russia the edge in this place. It would have been a classic. Except the Russians dropped the ball.
The Finns, however, aren’t buying any of that. I’d be praising them as scrappy (but really they’re not), and having good team chemistry (which they do without question), and being everything I like in an underdog, except they ruined my final. On top of that, at least while I write this, the Canadians are skating easy. I’ll forgive the Finns all the other stuff if they make a game of it here in the finals.
Watching the Finns play, I think I can see how they do well against the big teams. They’re pretty good, but I think the Swiss would have their number. Just a chemistry thing.
But man, you should have seen the Russians.