This is it, you guys.
The first-round game to end all first-round games at the 2014 Winter Olympics is upon us. Just like Canada versus the United States was the marquee event of the first round at the 2010 Games, so too is the United States versus Russia this time around.
Hold onto your hats. This will be a good one.
Both teams are coming off of big wins in their opener, though the United States looked more dominant in their 7-1 win over Slovakia than the Russians did in their 5-2 win over Slovenia. They are obviously the big boys of Group A and two of the favorites to go to the semifinals, if not beyond. They are the young upstart bunch from Minnesota and Massachusetts versus the Big Red Machine.
Okay, that last one is more a 1980s reference than this year (I had to get in at least one), but it is the first time the countries have played in the Olympics since 2002, when the Americans tied Russia 2-2 in the first round before winning the semifinal match 3-2 on the way to a silver medal. In that semifinal game, Russian coach Slava Fetisov grumbled about the officiating fix being in, though many of his players disagreed.
I love the Olympics, you guys. And games like this are them at their nauseating best. As a bonus, no one can go home after this one, so we can all keep the heartburn medication to a minimum.
There might be other games on tomorrow. Some even have compelling storylines, like if the Slovakians can bounce back against what was a very game Slovenian team on Thursday. Or if the Swedes can find that favorite form that escaped them in a narrow win over Switzerland.
Here's the full schedule.
|Slovakia||v||Slovenia||2:00 A.M. CST||NBCSN|
|United States||v||Russia||6:30 A.M. CST||NBCSN|
|Switzerland||v||Czech Republic||11:00 A.M. CST||NBCSN|
|Sweden||v||Latvia||11:00 A.M. CST||USA|
Even so, there really is only one main event, both in quality of game and historical context. Heck, Vladimir Putin will reportedly be in the building for this one. No word if he'll be shirtless or riding a bear, though.
Other things he could attend include the women's Super-G, a variety of short-track crashe...er, races, ski jumping and my personal favorite, the men's skeleton medal rounds. Because hurling oneself headfirst down an icy track is for winners!
But really, there's only one thing on most of our minds today.
We can get through this together.