This is big. Very, very, very big. The entire country seems to be in a state of anxious anticipation. Some are calling it Canada's biggest hockey game since '72, when Canada barely beat the Soviet Union in the Summit Series. In Game 8, with the series tied 3-3-1, Paul Henderson scored "the goal heard around the world," the most famous goal in Canadian hockey history, maybe in all of hockey history.
The '87 Canada Cup, with a Team Canada led by Gretzky, Lemieux, and Messier, was significant, too, with Canada winning the final series 2-1 over the Soviet Union with an incredible 6-5 victory in the third game, maybe the greatest hockey game ever played, Gretzky passing to Lemieux for the tie-breaking goal with just 1:26 left in the third period. This after the Soviet Union had won the first game 6-5 in overtime and after Canada had won the second game 6-5 in double overtime.
And now? A loss would mean a second straight Olympic quarterfinal loss to Russia, another failure, another occasion for national self-doubt and misery.
These two teams don't like each other. It's Crosby vs. Ovechkin, but the rivalry and intensity go much deeper than that. It goes back to '72, and it's been tense and intense ever since.
And so here we go...
I'll add to this post later -- and tweeting during the game. In the meantime, I and an entire country are tuning in. It's a national event, and we're probably more unified tonight than we have been in a long, long time. There's something very special about that.
8:25 pm -- 4-1 Canada after 1. What an awesome period for Canada, some of the best hockey I've ever seen. Aside from those couple of solid shifts for Russia that produced the goal, Canada totally dominated.
Alright, let's get back to it. We can't let up, can't give the Russians an opening.
8:59 pm -- Alright, Canada, take a deep breath.
7-3 after 2, but Russia will have some time on the power play when the third period starts. Overall, so far, a brilliant game by the Canadians, who have managed to control most of the play and have done some fantastic cycling in the Russian zone. That's the way to keep the puck away from Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk, Datsyuk, Semin, et al., and that's what they need to keep doing in the third. No letting up. No sitting back. Relentless, aggressive play, pushing the puck up and keeping the Russians on their heels.
10:03 pm -- Wow.
I know it was only the quarterfinals, but that was a historic statement game against our main hockey rival. It wasn't even close.
The top Russian players, including Ovechkin, were non-factors. And every Canadian player was solid, with some standing out with exceptional games. Too many to name, in fact, but I want to single out Doughty, who has emerged as perhaps Canada's top defenceman. What a fantastic player. Even Pronger was okay tonight, and I generally can't stand him. And up front... the San Jose line wasn't great, but how about Toews? He was the 12th or 13th forward selected, and not expected to play much, but he's been amazing, and tonight was his best game.
I'm just in awe of how Canada played tonight, one of the best games a Team Canada has ever played.
But it's not over yet. Now it's on to the semis to face the Swedes (probably), who aren't exactly pushovers.
For now, though, let's savour the moment. What a team. What a game.
O Canada, what utter brilliance.