LIVE BLOG: Canada and the U.S. face off for men’s hockey gold

Canada wins 3-2 in OT!

2:36 p.m.
The game doesn’t start for a half-hour or so, which leaves you plenty of time to read Charlie’s spot-on take on the state of international hockey and Canada’s place in it.

Meantime, here are my picks for the gamebreakers. Or, if you’re like me and Olympic hockey coverage has so polluted your mind you’re more familiar with McGuire-ese at this point, these are my predictions for the “monsters”:

U.S.: Ryan Miller, Brian Rafalski, and Zach Parise. (All of whom, it’s probably not worth noting but I’ll do it anyway, are coached by members of the Canadian coaching squad.)

Canada: Sidney Crosby (who’s been quiet of late), Ryan Getzlaf, and Scott Niedermayer.

Chime in with yours in the comments. However, there are no prizes for being right. What do you think this is, Feschuk’s blog?

3:01 p.m.
Charlie’s at the game and offers this bit of breaking news:  A not-unattractive woman has brought a sign reading “Sid, Check Out My Soft Hands”. Don’t let it distract you, Sid! She’ll be even happier to see you with a gold medal around your neck!

3:16 p.m.
My sleeper pick to have a huge game: Jonathan Toews. I’ve been consistently surprised by how good that kid is. I’m a Habs fan, so I don’t get to see a whole lot of him, but that guy can play.

3:19 p.m.
Oh boy, Babcock’s got his “lucky McGill tie” on. Watch out, world!

3:22 p.m.
I don’t know if that match-up’s going to hold, but Orpik and Johnson up against Crosby’s line is going to make for a punishing game behind the U.S. blue line.

3:25 p.m.
The American D is doing a good job holding the Canadian blue line. U.S. also has a great forecheck going. Looks like they’re going to try to keep the Canadian D from skating it out.

3:28 p.m.
Anybody else loving no-touch icing as much as I am? Granted, it takes away the stretch-pass, but it also means way tighter break-outs.

3:30 p.m.
First mention of Joe Sakic. Drink!

3:32 p.m.
Americans are doing a great job of taking the Canadians’ space away. I wouldn’t expect to see those tic-tac-toe plays we saw against Russia.

3:36 p.m.
I wonder if Scott Niedermayer will have time to grow his grandpa beard before the end of the game. I really hope so.

3:39 p.m.
Goal by Toews! (Told you so.)

3:42 p.m.
How can Ron Wilson not like that penalty on Bobby Ryan? I don’t know if there’s a more obvious call.

3:45 p.m.
Canada’s really not getting too many quality chances on this PP. Great PK by the U.S.

3:47 p.m.
With Ruff and Lemaire on the Canadian bench, it’s no surprise to find the Canadian team protecting the neutral zone with only one deep forechecker. The Americans seem to be trying to get around it with long passes up the middle, but it hasn’t worked so far. I wonder if the American D is going to try skating it out more in the last two periods.

3:51 p.m.
Another shoutout to the McGill tie. Did they give those out at graduation? Maybe I should’ve gone to mine.

3:55 p.m.
1st intermission: About as good a period as either team could hope for. U.S. is doing a brilliant job of taking away Canada’s room to skate, but Canada managed to pounce on the only real scoring chance it got. (Miller doesn’t look like he’s going to give up too many rebounds today.)

This is perhaps self-evident but, so far, this is about as North American a game as there’s been since the start of the Olympics: periphery shots with players trying to get rebounds, no odd-man rushes, a lot of blocked point shots, and broken stretch-pass breakouts.

In the second period, I’m expecting to see the Canadian D play a bigger role in the offensive zone because the American forwards are collapsing down low and leaving the points open. On the American side, I think their forwards are going to crash the net a bit more; Luongo’s been playing the puck and they’ll want to catch him doing it. I can’t see either team breaking the game wide open, though. The checking’s way too tight right now.

4:10 p.m.
You have to admire the courage of anyone who’s willing to step in front of Weber’s shot. Dude’s got a cannon.

4:15 p.m.
Niedermayer is almost single-handedly killing this penalty to Staal.

4:16 p.m.
Great PK by Canada. U.S. never really got any closer to Luongo than the half-boards.

4:17 p.m.
Goal by Perry! Bad defensive zone coverage by the U.S., who left Perry coming in as the trailer.

4:20 p.m.
That’s two odd-man rushes for Canada in the last two shifts. Didn’t see a single one in the 1st period.

4:21 p.m.
My man-crush on Toews prevents me from thinking that was a bad penalty he just took.

4:22 p.m.
Who knew Nash could kill penalties that well? Great job taking the point shot away on that PK.

4:24 p.m.
I’ve already outed myself as a complete hockey dork, so I don’t mind admitting Niedermayer’s unbelievable job covering the front of the net during that PK got me a little hot ‘n bothered.

4:27 p.m.
Note to Pierre McGuire: nobody says “jammin’ to the music” anymore.

4:28 p.m.
Goal by Kesler. Canada can’t give up the red line as easily as they did on that play.

4:30 p.m.
It seems obvious now, but I should’ve had Kesler up there as a game-breaker. He’s another one of those Western guys I don’t see enough of.

4:32 p.m.
Even though he’s been on the PP, we haven’t seen Thornton do much. The tight checking really doesn’t suit him. Wonder if this doesn’t presage anything for the Sharks.

4:35 p.m.
How did Ryan Suter get to the front of the net totally uncovered?

4:38 p.m.
The Canadian forwards are having a real hard time beating the American D one-on-one. Look for them to either dump it in earlier, or try to sneak behind the American D like they just did on that breakaway.

4:55 p.m.
Okay, so I wasn’t entirely right about the second period. Being a hockey blowhard is harder than it looks. That doesn’t mean I’m going to quit, though.

Turns out, the game did open up a little bit in the second. Both sides are pressing and the U.S. has poked a few holes in the Canadian trap.

Going into the third, I think both teams are going to have a similar gameplan: get some speed through the neutral zone to press the defence back and try to tire them out. Look for guys like Dustin Brown and Ryan Kesler to do this for the U.S., while Richards and Toews are going to play a similar role for Canada. This should benefit Canada, if only because they have a deeper bench to work with, but a stand-out period by Miller could go a long way for the U.S.

4:57 p.m.
Two posts for Canada! The good news is they’re finally getting the puck to the point and the shots are sneaking through.

5:00 p.m.
I don’t mean to pick on the Thornton line, but they’re going to have to get some pucks on net.

5:01 p.m.
Crosby hasn’t done much either. Maybe that woman with the sign is getting to him. After all, he is, like, 22 or something.

5:04 p.m.
Maybe I hadn’t noticed this before, but the “k” in “Reebok” on Crosby’s helmet is scratched off. Nothing gets by those VANOC sponsorship monitors.

5:06 p.m.
Scratch that last bit about Crosby’s helmet. He’s the only one without it.

5:07 p.m.
So far, the third period is a lot more like the first than the second. Guys can’t skate it in, so they’re dumping the puck to try to hem in the defense. Someone’s going to bust this game open soon.

5:09 p.m.
There we go: one bad giveaway by Kane and Heatley gets a golden opportunity. Too bad he didn’t score.

5:11 p.m.
Getzlaf is having an outstanding game. When he’s not getting (and keeping) the puck deep in the U.S. zone, he’s helping the Canadian D clear the front of the net.

5:14 p.m.
No penalties yet in the third. The next power play could very well decide the game.

5:16 p.m.
I don’t know if the Canadians are getting tired, but they haven’t had a decent scoring chance since Heatley got a shot on net off Kane’s giveaway. The Americans, meanwhile, have Canada running around in their own zone. All praise be to Luongo.

5:19 p.m.
Less than five minutes to go, but Canada’s lead has not looked less secure than it does now.

5:20 p.m.
Ken Hitchcock looks like he hasn’t let go of that bannister in front of his box since the Norway game.

5:21 p.m.
Crosby breakaway! The Maclean’s office goes nuts! And he loses the puck…. ugh.

5:22 p.m.
These defensive zone faceoffs are going to kill the Canadians.

5:24 p.m.
Miller goes to the bench. Oh boy. I’m working up a Ken Hitchcock-ian sweat over here.

5:27 p.m.
The three forwards that are out there for Canada in the last minute have had tremendous games: Getzlaf, Nash and Toews.

5:29 p.m.
Parise scores. And a wave of curses washes over the the office. 2-2 going into 20-minute overtime.

5:30 p.m.
Unbelievable. Seriously.

5:34 p.m.
Was that Jack Layton at Gretzky’s bar in Toronto? Sure looked like him.

5:41 p.m.
The Americans really found their legs in the last 15 minutes of the third period. They’ll want to keep up that sustained pressure in the overtime period. They had Canada pressed in their own end for most of the third and kept skill guys like Crosby and Thornton away from the middle of the ice.

That said, Canada managed to turn even the slightest U.S. mistakes into scoring opportunities, which is all you need in overtime. Still, they’ll need to start skating much more than they did in the third.

5:46 p.m.
Canadians look good so far. They’re back to shooting the puck. Four-on-four should give them more room to work with.

5:52 p.m.
Great shot by Nash, but they’re aren’t any Canadians around to pick up rebounds in front of Miller.

5:53 p.m.

5:58 p.m.
Crosby sure has a sense of timing. Doesn’t score in three games, but manages to become a national hero anyway.

6:01 p.m.
Well, it’s all over but the drinkin’ for the Canadian squad. Lock up your daughters, Vancouver.

Good night, folks.