Miracle Monday: USA vs. West Germany

Miracle Monday
Want to hear something kind of crazy? This is the last game of the preliminary round! So do you know what that means is coming up next week? I'll give you ONE guess. ;) But let's not get ahead of ourselves, because we still have West Germany to deal with. This was a team that the U.S. had struggled against in the years leading up to 1980 -- a loss against West Germany at the Innsbruck 1976 Olympics actually cost the U.S. team (which included Buzz Schneider) a bronze medal. So even though this game ended up having no bearing on the standings in 1980, there was a bit of a personal vendetta!

Lake Placid 1980 Winter Olympic Games Miracle on Ice USA vs. West Germany


What: USA 4 - 2 FRG

Who: Rob McClanahan (assists: Mark Johnson, Dave Christian)
         Neal Broten (assists: Eric Strobel, Mike Eruzione)
         Rob McClanahan (assists: Mark Johnson, Dave Christian)
         Phil Verchota (assists: Dave Christian, Mark Wells)

+ Remember how the U.S. had its first good first period against Romania? Yeah, well, the same cannot be said for this game. It was another flop of a first period that ended with West Germany leading 2-0. Both goals that were scored were rather long slap shots and, dare I say it, soft goals. But Jim Craig had been hit in the neck with a puck during warm-ups (courtesy of a rogue Mike Eruzione shot) and he'd kind of gotten knocked out. So if he was playing at less than his best in the first period... well, we know why.

+ As this was the final game of the preliminary round, a lot of the focus shifted to which teams would be advancing out of each pool, and in which order. The U.S. and Sweden were at this point both guaranteed to advance out of the blue division, and the results of their last games would determine who placed first and who placed second. They each finished with the same record (4-0-1) but Sweden had a better goal differential, so the U.S. had to beat West Germany by seven goals to advance in first place (which would mean they'd play the Soviets in the final game instead of in the next game). After such a downer of a first period, that seven-goal margin had become a bit of a pipe dream, and the U.S. settled for advancing in second place.

+ Neal Broten had a pretty phenomenal game... in my humble, not totally unbiased opinion. ;) In the previous games he was a rather quiet presence, not making any mistakes but also not really making any major waves either. But not only did he score against West Germany, he had numerous other scoring opportunities and it felt like he was constantly the one carrying the puck out of the U.S. zone. It was Broten this, Broten that. And he also scored in the previous game, so this was really when Neal hit his stride!

+ Ken Dryden mentioned two players who really stepped up to the plate in this game: one was Neal, and the other was Rob McClanahan. Prior to this game he'd had two goals in four games... and then he promptly doubled that total here. And not only did he score two goals, but he scored two beautiful goals. These were not whoops-I-knocked-in-a-rebound. These were serious playmaking and beautiful stick work. The dude was talented, and here he was totally on top of his game.

+ Speaking of being on top of his game... Dave Christian? Three assists? UMM. Ken Dryden pointed out that Dave needed to tighten up on defense if the U.S. wanted to do well against the Soviets and Finland in the medal round. So, okay, that's a fair point. But the guy was a converted center, so growing pains had to have been expected. And sheesh, how can you fault him when he consistently set up plays where the puck ended up in the back of the net?!


This game was absolutely hacked to pieces on ABC (at least on the DVDs I have), so this is another game I'm still wishing to see the entirety of. However, you can see Neal's goal HERE. :)

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