My biggest problem with the US win over Canada was that it lacked "win-or-else" stakes that undermine virtually every regular-season game in every sport (except, relatively, college football).
But that is precisely what makes today's Canada-Russia so awesome: The two pre-Olympic favorites for gold (featuring the top two players in the world, no less), playing with some crazy stakes: The winner moves onto a medal opportunity, the loser is utterly humiliated.
This is not a professional championship on the line; this is nationalism at its most fervent. This is psyche. This is bragging rights that make UNC-Duke or Red Sox-Yankees look insubstantial.
I think that it is one of the most intriguing single games of the year -- either the past year or the upcoming year, I don't really care which. (You'll groan, but it reminds me of Alabama-Florida in the SEC title game.)
You all know that I don't know much about hockey -- it's why I stay away from it here and in the SN column. But I think this transcends "just" a hockey game. So it leads today's column.
That's not to say that there isn't a ton more in the column:
*Did Kim just put on the performance of the Olympics?
*Did Kramer suffer the biggest choke of the Olympics?
*NFL Combine: Count me among the "meh" crowd.
*Brian Westbrook: Retire his number, Philly. And maybe he should retire, period.
*Kobe is back: And killing it, of course.
*Florida: Off the Bubble with the most energizing win since the 2007 team made its Tournament run. Naturally, this sets up the Gators getting their clock cleaned on the First Thursday.
*More Bubble: Watch San Diego State (at BYU) and Dayton (at Temple) tonight. If either pull an upset on the road, they should move into the field.
(It's this time of year that I look back on my time as college basketball editor at ESPN.com and remember how much fun I had with the Bubble Watch.)
Complete column here. More later.