The gold medal game in the men’s Olympic hockey tournament spoke for itself -- a wonderfully dramatic game played by the best players in the world. If there is one thing Chicago Blackhawks fans should take away from it all, it’s that the Hawk stars are as good as any players on the planet.
No NHL team that sent players to Vancouver showed itself better than the Hawks. The gold medal game is a pointed example of what a big part they played in this two-week hockey festival.
Jonathan Toews scored the game’s first goal while playing 17 important minutes, having been on the ice in crucial times both in regulation and in overtime. Duncan Keith had an assist, was plus two, and once again played more than 20 minutes. And the world got to see what Hawk fans see every day in Patrick Kane: domination with the puck. He had two assists -- one on the dramatic tying goal -- and was plus two while racking up a team-high four shots. All of his shots were seemingly good scoring chances. Yes, I’d say it was a good gold medal game for the Blackhawks.
Brent Seabrook was the odd man out in terms of playing time, but didn’t do anything to disgrace himself or the sweater he wears for his day job.
As for Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky, they nearly led upstart Slovakia to their first medal in hockey. Playing on the same line, they were also on the ice at crucial moments and Hossa was arguably the Slovaks’ best player. In their bronze medal game, he had a goal and a shorthanded assist. In total, he had nine points in Slovakia’s seven games.
Having said all that, it would be hard to find someone to argue that Toews wasn’t the best of the bunch. He made the tournament All-Star team and his numbers over Canada’s seven games jump off the page. Eight points with a plus nine rating. No other Canadian was better than plus six. If the puck was to be had, Toews was the one to have it. Behind the net, in his own zone and along the boards, he was as good as any player in the entire tournament.
The other winner, besides fans that watched the tournament, was USA hockey. It made a statement that its players are every bit as good as their northerly neighbors. And an overtime loss in the gold medal game didn’t do anything to change that. In fact, it only enhanced that feeling. Canada and the U.S. went toe-to-toe twice and the total tally was six goals (non-empty netters) apiece. They each had one win; Canada’s was just a bit more timely.
The U.S. came up short in the final game of the tournament but came up big in showcasing its homegrown talent. And the Hawks came up big showing the world and rest of the NHL what they may have in store for them come time for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Here are the tournament totals for the six Hawk players:
Tomas Kopecky: seven games, one goal, one assist, plus one, two penalty minutes, average ice time per game: 11 minutes
Marian Hossa: seven games, three goals, three assists, plus six, average ice time per game: 18 minutes
Duncan Keith: seven games, six assists, plus six, two penalty minutes, average ice time per game: 21 minutes
Jonathan Toews: seven games, one goal, seven assists, plus nine, two penalty minutes, average ice time per game: 14.5 minutes
Brent Seabrook: seven games, one assist, plus two, two penalty minutes, average ice time per game: 8.5 minutes
Patrick Kane: seven games, three goals, two assists, plus four, two penalty minutes, average ice time per game: 17 minutes