Team USA blows out Finland; Canada squeeks by Slovakia

Team USA scored six goals in 12:46 against Finland. Just about all you need to say about that. Canada essentially dominated their game as well, and Roberto Luongo was seen reading Team USA scouting reports in between making 9 easy stops.

Until the third period of course. Slovakia turned on the burners after being outplayed for fifty minutes, and pulled within one goal with five minutes remaining. It came down to the last sixty seconds, where Pavol Demitra clanked one of the post to seal Slovakia's fate.

Canada-USA gets underway on Sunday at noon, setting up a rematch of the Salt Lake City final in 2002. Someone placed a silver dollar under center ice before the Games began right?

At any rate, since the NHL began to send players to the Olympics in 1998, there have been four Gold medal games. And while a short tournament played every four years is pretty volatile when you're looking for statistical trends, it is quite interesting to see how the two North American teams have fared:

Olympic Results

Ice Gold Silver Bronze
Nagano '98
International CZE RUS FIN 6th 4th
Salt Lake City '02
NHL International
RUS 2nd 1st
Torino '06
International SWE FIN CZE 8th 7th
Vancouver '10
NHL USA/CAN USA/CAN SVK/FIN 1st/2nd 1st/2nd

[Update]: Gabe from Behind The Net has offered a correction-- the 2002 Salt Lake City Games were played on International ice. The chart above has been corrected, but the rest of the post will remain the same.

The different type of playing surfaces are what I'm trying to get at here-- international rinks are generally 200 feet long and 98 feet wide, while North American rinks are 200 feet long and 85 feet wide. In general, a large majority of non-North American players skate on these wider international rinks throughout their career, emphasizing stickwork and speed compared to the physical play and boardwork that North American skaters are known for. And the results, despite the small sample, seem to show that this may be playing a part.

There is also the possibility home-ice advantage is having an effect, with both Salt Lake City and Vancouver producing USA-CAN Gold medal games.

If nothing else it's quite interesting, and will continue to play a role in how each nation selects their 23 man roster before heading to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics.