For every Rangers fan, there was something inside tearing us apart, which was who to root for. Do you root for your home country, which for the majority of us is the United States? Or do we cheer on the fan favorite and reigning gold medal winner Henrik Lundqvist who plays for Sweden? I cheered him on last time and was prepared to do so again, until after last night, when they were upset by Slovakia by the score of 4-3. This will go down as the second biggest upset of the tournament, right next to the USA's defeat of Canada on Sunday night.
The bright side of this is, though, that Henrik Lundqvist will return to the New York Rangers uninjured, and not fatigued, as he will have played two less games than his last Olympic tournament in 2006.
When the Olympics came, I thought it would be a break; two weeks to not have to watch or worry about a mediocre Rangers team. On the contrary, this is where the stress actually would begin. I'm no fan of the Olympics at all, everyone knows this, but even with my distaste for the tournament, I still found myself flipping through the games just checking to see if Lundqvist, Gaborik, or Jokinen were still healthy. That is all that matters to the Rangers in the long run, the safe return of all the players they sent out.
We all remember four years ago, when Lundqvist played his heart out to a gold medal and came back to New York a different goalie. He played worse down the stretch than he had the entire season, mainly due to injuries like a hip flexor and migraines when the playoffs rolled around. The extra games he played that season at such a high stress level were the cause. The elimination games have a game-seven mentality, and to continually play in these games will wear a player out eventually. Hockey is as much mental as is it physical, so as much as I wanted to see Lundqvist repeat with the gold medal, it is good to see him back early.
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