The problem with Olympic hockey is that it forces Blackhawks fans to root for St. Louis Blues.
Again and again.
It has to be torture. An awful thing. It’s fantasy hockey on an international level.
It started early in the Sochi Games, this conflicted pleasure. T.J. Oshie kept scoring against Russia until they told everybody finally to go outside and watch Vladimir Putin’s 92-car motorcade Saturday.
Oshie’s game of H-O-R-S-E against Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk virtually locked up the United States’ spot atop its group, which gave the Americans a free pass into the quarterfinals against a tired Czech Republic team Wednesday.
And in that quarterfinal against the Czechs, there was more happy misery. You can hate rooting for a Blue if you want, but David Backes was a stud.
Physical play or finesse, goal or assist, whatever you wanted, the hulking talent St. Louis captain provided it.
Backes delivered a crunching check on Jaromir Jagr that created a turnover, a play that ended with Backes making a Patrick Kane-like saucer pass across the slot that Dustin Brown hammered for a 2-1 U.S. lead.
Then, with 1.8 seconds remaining in the first period, Backes gathered in a hot puck off the back boards and calmly spun before firing over Czech goalie Ondrej Pavelec for a 3-1 lead that pretty much ended matters.
But just in case, after stapling a number of Czechs to the boards, Backes planted himself in front of the crease, and his screen while taking abuse allowed Zach Parise to jump on a rebound for a 4-1 lead in the second period.
Backes’ physical play sparked the Americans, and then he showed he could skate, score and pass, too. Grudgingly, Hawks fans had to love Backes’ game.
And when play-by-play maestro Mike Emrick told that story about Backes and his wife rescuing dogs, well, forget it. It was all over.
Backes and his wife, Kelly, started Athletes for Animals and have begun the process of rounding up stray dogs in Russia and bringing them back to the States for adoption.
Puppies and stray dogs. Backes is saving puppies and stay dogs. How can you hate a guy saving puppies and stray dogs. Sorry, folks, but puppies and stray dogs trump being a Blue.
But don’t worry, Hawks fans. After this week, you can root for the evil St. Louis leader to return to doing stupid things.
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