By John Toperzer
** Knowing that international hockey has a long history of shootouts, I still greatly prefer seeing overtime decide which team wins and which one loses. It’s ridiculous to see a single player taking six shots in the shootout.
** That said, it’s a great day for hockey and it’s a great day to be T.J. Oshie. The rules are the rules, I suppose.
** No Penguins players have suffered any injuries of note thus far in Sochi — let’s keep it that way.
** The Penguins were fortunate Pavel Datsyuk missed time in the 2008-09 Stanley Cup Final and was less than 100 percent when he did play. The guy’s been a beast for a long time and Team USA saw it up close and personal Saturday.
** I get really sick of Brooks Orpik criticism. It’s become uber fashionable to rip on Orpik, but there are few defenders I’d rather have on my team come playoffs. Different scenario’s, but Orpik’s partner, Paul Martin, wasn’t well thought of a couple years ago.
** I bet NHL All-Stars wouldn’t pick Phil Kessel last for their team like they did in Raleigh a few years ago.
** Players like Kessel give Team USA noticeable improvement from the Olympic days when the United States was a stiff squad hoping for a lucky bounce. The US was Canada-light for so many years. The last three or four Olympics have seen a welcomed change from that.
** Russian Alexander Radulov did not have a good day. There was talk he might be a good fit for Evgeni Malkin and the Pens, given his Nashville Predators rights and Penguins GM Ray Shero’s links to that organization. Thankfully, nothing ever became of those talks, though it would be interesting to know if the Pens and Radulov were ever close.
** Malkin doesn’t need another Russian on the Penguins like he had as a youngster with Sergei Gonchar – but it would be nice, culturally, for him. Malkin takes his nationality very seriously.
** Seeing Team USA generally out-skilled by Russia but not outplayed or “out-physicaled,” I’m reminded of one my favorite movies “The Lost Battalion.” A small group of Americans are holed up against the Nazi’s in the Argonne Forest during in World War II.
A US lieutenant tells a German major what his troops are up against and why they can’t won’t the Americans.
Maj. Prinz: You Americans, you always have so much of everything. No matter. Eventually you have to surrender.
Lt. Leak: I don’t think so.
Maj. Prinz: Are you officers so callous? You’re surrounded. You have no chance of relief. Every night you send out patrols, and every night we kill them. We can hear the cries of your wounded Lieutenant. There is no dishonor in surrender.
Lt. Leak: Maybe for you, but my guys are different.
Maj. Prinz: What do you mean?
Lt. Leak: What you’re up against Major, is a bunch of Mick, Pollack, Dago, and Jew boy gangsters from New York City. They’ll never surrender. Never.
** The rest of Saturday’s men’s hockey schedule:
Switzerland vs. Czech Republic, 12:00 PM ET
Sweden vs. Latvia, 12:00 PM ET