A week ago Brian Burke was telling everyone who would listen that "playing at noon sucks."
He couldn't be happier to be starting at noon today.
Of course that means he's playing in the gold medal game, which has been scheduled for noon forever. But it also may be their big advantage to getting the early jump on Canada.
USA has had to play 4 of their 5 previous Olympic games at noon. Canadian players have not played any earlier than 4:30 in the afternoon. Hockey players are creatures of habit, and as a rule they don't like afternoon games - they are night workers. Adjusting to an early start is often a wild card for many players. Just ask the Finns who came out inexplicably flat in their semi-final game and were trounced by a very prepared US team.
We've seen how crucial a fast start is in this tournament. The US has the noon start routine down pat. Canada has quite an adjustment to deal with.
Canada let up on the Slovakians with about 8 minutes left to play in the third period, and by doing so allowed the Slovaks to get back into the game.
Why? Were they guilty of being too confident, disrespecting their opponent by thinking the win was in the bag? Absolutely.
But I also wonder how much fatigue played a factor. That factor will be increased on Sunday, as for Canada it will be their 4th must win game in 5 and 1/2 days. With the disruption of the early start, they will have to be very disciplined on Saturday evening to get their rest. In the Olympic village how easy will that be?
The Americans meanwhile have coasted through to this game, had the benefit of the bye and have young legs. This is another case of advantage USA.