VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The buzz around town surrounding what's being dubbed "Super Sunday" is palpable. Team USA defenseman
"You going to watch that game on Sunday, Canada vs. the U.S.?" the driver asked his fare.
"Should be a good game," Gleason replied.
"Who are you rooting for?"
There was a slight pause before the 27-year-old Michigan native deflected, "Well, I'm not too much of a hockey fan."
"Pretty funny," Gleason says after recounting the story. "But deep down, you're just amazed what people are talking about."
This seems to be all anybody's talking about, a back-to-back-to-back showdown of old rivals that is sure to get the nationalistic blood boiling and give hockey fiends a fix that should last for years. Not only will they play rematches of the three last three Olympic gold medal contests -- and in chronological order, to boot! -- but the games carry significance for the playoff rounds, which begin Tuesday.
It's also an important day for the NHL, considering the fact the six teams featured in Super Sunday's matches (Czech Republic vs. Russia, Canada vs. U.S., Finland vs. Sweden) are stocked with players from the league that went on hiatus for two weeks to be here. With the worldwide exposure -- and on a lazy Sunday with minimal competition for home viewers -- the spotlight will shine brightly on hockey, albeit perhaps not as brightly in the States as
The marquee matchup of the day belongs to the U.S. and Canada, two teams whose distaste for one another has grown over the years, despite the fact they haven't met in Olympic competition since the 2002 gold-medal game. "Do I dislike them?" U.S. defenseman
In a pre-Olympics poll commissioned by TSN and
"At the end of the day, Canada and Russia will always have a rivalry," Team Canada center
As it goes, the U.S., so far the leader in Group A with two wins in regulation, faces a Canadian team that had the entire nation in knots, as it was dragged into a shootout by Switzerland on Thursday night. Though its team came out with the win, Canada certainly got a scare, and the game exposed some faults on a team that looks flawless on paper.
"There's no question we think there's been way too many passes," Team Canada head coach
"It's not a question about our talent," says defenseman
With a team that includes
After getting a chance to watch his team for two full games, Babcock looks like he will juggle his line combinations a bit against the U.S., opting to put Flyers forward
As for the U.S., coach
Now, the U.S. hasn't been without its own shortcomings in its first two games. Allowing a number of odd-man rushes and playing perhaps too aggressively from the back end may be tolerable offenses against the Swiss and Norwegian teams, but you can bet against Canada, Team USA will pay for those kinds of lapses. It is something the U.S. is mindful of coming into the game at Canada Hockey Place, where they'll be the prime targets of an assuredly raucous crowd.
"I'm anticipating one of the best atmospheres I've been in since the '96 World Cup," Wilson says. "Every TV in Canada is going to be watching, and a good many in the United States [will be watching too]. Anybody who is a hockey fan will be watching that game.
"It's going to be a great day for hockey."
That's an understatement; Super Sunday is going to be epic.