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Canadians Sure Love Their Hockey

And apparently so do we. Not as much as them, but the TV ratings for the Olympics gold-medal game between the U.S. and Canada were through the roof in both countries. The game apparently had an average viewership of 27.6 million and maxed out at 34.8 million viewers at the end of the 3rd period. The only game with a higher rating in the U.S. in the last 30 years was the 1980 gold-medal game against Finland which followed up the Miracle on Ice. Now if you thought that sounded like strong ratings, the numbers in Canada blow ours away:

It was also the most-watched television broadcast ever in Canadian history, with an average audience of 16.6 million viewers. Nearly half of the Canadian population watched the entire game on average, while 80 percent of Canadians watched some part of the game (26.5 million).

80% tuned in at one point? Damn, that’s freaking crazy. The Super Bowl usually attracts less than 50% of our population by comparison. Also putting this game into proper context, the gold-medal game outdrew the Rose Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, March Madness championship game, and the Daytona 500. Without a doubt this was a boon for hockey and hopefully just what the NHL needed to regain some of the popularity it once had. Remember, it was only 15-20 years ago that the NHL had equal popularity as the NBA. I hope this enthusiasm keeps up.

Russia Left Nabakov in Way Too Long

One of the most anticipated matchups of the entire Winter Games in Vancouver turned into a blowout early on. It only took eight minutes for Canada to build a 3-0 lead against Russia in their quarterfinal matchup. The Canadians were up 4-1 after the first period before going on to win it 7-3. It was pretty clear to anyone watching the game that Russia’s starting goalie, Evgeni Nabokov, simply didn’t have it. I’ve never been a big Nabokov guy but I can’t deny his dominant regular season play, so I’m not complaining that he was their top option. What I don’t understand is how they didn’t yank him in favor of Ilya Bryzgalov after the first.

The Russians still had a shot at winning the game when they were down by only three. They stuck with Nabokov and he gave up a goal early in the second to Corey Perry where he was pathetically out of position (check out the picture above). Even with your chances dwindling at 5-1, you have to give yourselves the best opportunity to win and make that change. They didn’t. Shea Weber slapped one in to make it 6-1 before the Federation decided it was time to finally make the change. Nabokov’s final numbers were 17 stops on 23 shots. He left with the score six to freaking one.

Russia added two more goals in the period while Bryzgalov allowed a goal to make the score 7-3. While it may have been hard to come back from down three goals, the Russian coach owed it to his team to give them the best chance to win. Leaving Nabokov in only allowed Canada a chance to waltz into the semis. Despite all the commotion and second-guessing following Team USA’s upset win on Sunday, it looks like we’re in for a gold medal game rematch of Sunday’s contest. The Canadians have been dominating all their games in the shots on goal category and are scary.

Idiots Climb onto Catwalk at Joe Louis Arena, Delay Kings/Red Wings Game

The thing that’s so much fun about maintaining this site is seeing all the new, crazy stuff that happens on a daily basis. It’s almost like that part in the Howard Stern movie, Private Parts, where listeners are asked why they tune into the show. Love him or hate him, the top reason given was: “I want to see what he’ll say next.” That’s kind of how it is here where I wonder what sort of crazy or dumb thing can happen next. Check out this video via SI’s Hot Clicks and Detroit4Lyfe that shows three Red Wings fans who delayed the game by climbing onto the catwalk:

The Kings actually won that game Saturday night 3-2 as they continue to show they’re one of the top contenders in the Western Conference. Likewise, the fans continue to show just how idiotic they can get. Normally I refrain from rewarding dumbasses that interrupt games with their actions, but this was too unique to pass up.

Must-See Crazy KHL Fight Video

The only way you’ve ever seen anything like the fight video you’re about to see is if you’ve watched Slap Shot before. Thing is that was only a movie — the KHL brawl between Vityaz Chekhov and Avangard Omsk happened in real life. The first part of the video was somewhat light. Around the 1:40 mark is where things get really heavy. Again, this is the Kontinental Hockey League featuring former NHL star Jaromir Jagr so you know it’s a legit league. Without further ado, here’s the vid:

According to the NY Times, 691 penalty minutes were handed out to 30 players. No surprise they had to suspend the game because neither team had enough players to continue. I have never seen anything like that in a real game before. If the league takes discipline seriously, they’ll probably be setting records with length and amount of fines. Unfreakingbelievable.

Dumbest Hockey Play Ever? Tomas Vokoun Hit in Head by Keith Ballard

It was a bad night for the Florida Panthers all the way around on Monday against the Thrashers. Not only did they lose 4-3 to drop to 10-12-4, but they also saw their goalie get injured by his own teammate. With the game tied 1-1, Ilya Kovalchuk skated in for a goal to put Atlanta up 2-1. Defenseman Keith Ballard was not happy about the goal going through and expressed his displeasure by whirling his stick at the goal post. Unfortunately his stick happened to meet goalie Tomas Vokoun’s head before it connected with the post. Vokoun ended up being taken off the ice on a stretcher after a delay that lasted several minutes. Check out the video of Tomas Vokoun getting hit by Keith Ballard:

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Fight with Aaron Voros Leaves Matt Bradley Bloodied

Alex Ovechkin made his triumphant return to the ice for the Caps on Tuesday night, scoring a goal in their 4-2 win over the Rangers. While Ovie’s return certainly provided a boost for the Caps, there’s no doubt that this fight between Matt Bradley and Aaron Voros fired up the troops early in the game. I think it’s the blood all over Bradley’s face that makes this brawl awesome. Check it out:

Amazingly enough, Bradley got six stitches over his left eye and returned to score the tie-breaking goal in the 3rd period. Hard to say who won the actual fight since each player got in quality shots but the bottom line is that the Caps won, so I guess that means Bradley did too. Sweet fight.

Coach Dan Bylsma Calls Out Detroit at Penguins Parade in Pittsburgh

Many players and coaches have been known to do crazy things at team parades. You’ve had Mark Madsen break out in a horrendous dance, same thing with Pat Riley. Shaq’s rapped as has Juan Pierre. Chase Utley’s dropped an F-bomb in front of a packed Citizens Bank Park. I guess guys are riding so high that they feel invincible and will just do or say anything — almost like they’re drunk. Well Penguins coach Dan Byslma had one such moment on Monday in Pittsburgh at the team’s parade. Move ahead to the 2:45 mark to hear Bylsma take a shot at Hockeytown USA aka Detroit:

In case you can’t watch, Bylsma said: “We’re like, ‘we’re gonna win this one, we’re gonna win this one.’ And that’s what you fans did for us and done for us all along, it’s unbelievable. Bring this trophy back to Pittsburgh — city of champions — much better than Hockeytown.” Now it’s not as if Bylsma had a playing career with the Blackhawks or something like that where he should just automatically hate Detroit or the Red Wings. Seems like he was just playing along with the fans. I dunno, but I’m guessing Wings fans and Detroit will remember that one, especially if there’s another Stanley Cup rematch.