Throughout the 2014 Winter Olympics, I made quite a few predictions. Some ended up being laughably wrong, some tragically wrong, but I did get one thing right, which happened to be the most important (and easiest to guess):

Canada won the gold medal.

That’s two straight Olympics. 11 Canadian men now have two gold medals in ice hockey in the span of four years. Two consecutive Winter Olympic Games that Canada has been the odds-on favorite to win gold, and both times have they delivered. Canada has been spared of the heartbreak endured by the Russians, Americans, Finns, Swedes, Czechs, Slovaks, Austrians, Slovenians, Norwegians, Latvians, Swiss, Germans, and Belarusians, most of whom haven’t even seen a medal in the previous two Olympics, let alone a gold, let alone fucking two golds.

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I thought maybe waiting all day to finish this would take some of the edge off and let me put things in perspective. I was wrong:

Well, fuck me.

Look, this is hard, because I don’t want to be that guy calling out a team for a bad loss after a heartbreak like the one dealt to the players of Team USA by their North American brethren less than a full day before the shitshow we saw this morning, especially because I’ve never played in the NHL and easier said than done and if you can’t stand behind our boys feel free to stand in front of them, but the Americans simply should have played better, especially because their opponent was essentially in the exact same situation.

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Four years after suffering heartbreak at the hands of Team Canada in the gold medal game of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, all America wanted was another shot.

We got it, and it went wide.

I began my plea for belief by asking Americans to abandon reason, foresight, and logic because reasonable, logical foresight led to the conclusion that Canada would win. I used reasonable, logical foresight when I predicted Canada would win gold.

Throughout the game, the Canadians were faster than the Americans. Canada’s passing was crisp, while the US had trouble connecting tape to tape. For most of the second period, the Americans looked like they were just trying to keep up, while Canada dictated play with a textbook offensive zone cycle that exhausted America’s defenders and opened up plenty of room for Canada’s big, speedy forwards.

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All right, America, it’s time to drop the objectivity. It’s time to leave reason, logic, and foresight behind and give in to blind emotion.

It’s time to do what Teemu Selanne and the Finns did on Wednesday, and what they’ll no doubt continue to do tomorrow.

It’s time to believe.

Sure, the Canadians have Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty, Ryan Getzlaf, Martin St. Louis, Jeff Carter, Shea Weber, Corey Perry, and Carey Price, among other top-level players. Sure, they’re the defending gold medalists. Sure, their country lives, breathes, and dies hockey, showing a devotion to the frozen sport that rivals Europeans’ devotion to football, or Americans’ devotion to football.

The fact of the matter is that if there is any one team that can beat the Canadians in this tournament, it’s Team USA. The Americans have overcome every challenge the Olympics have thrown at them and have looked good doing it. What’s that, Russia? You want to go eight rounds in the shootout? Meet TJ Oshie.

Seen here: the hockey player performs a complicated mating dance.

Oshie’s 4 goals in 6 attempts proved to be the toughest test the US faced. The next day, Phil Kessel recorded a natural hat trick as Team USA beat Slovenia 5-1, granting them the top spot in Group A and the second overall seed in the tournament. Three days later, the US took advantage of the day off their bye earned them to light up a tired Czech Republic squad and roll to a semifinal matchup with none other than those bastard syrup-suckers, Team Canada.

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Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Preview

Every four years, the NHL suspends play for a couple weeks in February to allow players to participate in the Winter Olympics. There has been much debate over whether to continue this practice or bar players from traveling to the Olympics, but 2014, at least, will continue to feature NHL talent.

In fact, all 12 participating countries – Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Latvia, Norway, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States – have at least one NHLer on their roster. Some, like the US and Canada, are entirely comprised of NHL players; Sweden’s roster has only one player that isn’t currently playing in the NHL, while teams like Russia, the Czech Republic, and Finland have a fairly even balance of NHL players and those from European leagues like the KHL, Liiga, Elitserien, and Extraliga. Some of the lesser-known squads like Austria, Latvia, and Slovenia simply don’t have enough NHL players to fill a roster and, by necessity, are filled with players from their own professional leagues.

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NHL: No Stanley Cup Hangover for Blackhawks

The last time the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, all the way back in 2010, they lost half their roster to trades and free agency that summer. The following season, they barely made the playoffs as an 8 seed and lost in the first round. After their most recent championship, the Blackhawks only lost three skaters and a goaltender, all of whom have been ably replaced. Though Michael Frolik’s presence on the penalty kill is still missed (Chicago sits 26th), the defending champions are otherwise enjoying an excellent season. With a total of 82 points, the Blackhawks (34-10-14) are first in the Central Division and for a long stretch back in December led the NHL. Though the Anaheim Ducks have surpassed the Hawks in the overall standings and St. Louis is hot on their heels in the Central, Chicago has repeatedly shown resiliency when faced with adversity.

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