It’s do or die (figuratively, speaking. Remember: Don't Get Hurt) for Team Europe in the World Cup of Hockey Finals against Team Canada.
Final Game 2, 8 p.m., ESPN2, CBC, TVA Sports
Win and they force a deciding Game 3 on Saturday night. Lose and, well, there’s no shame in losing to a team made of 25 of the very best players in the world. Europe has made it further than anyone expected and Canada has destroyed all in their path. If it ends here, you outlasted everyone else.
Team Europe’s only hope is Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak, who team GM and Slovakian countryman Miro Satan says has only gotten better with age. I hope so. Because facing Crosby, Marchand and company is going to make Halak go gray with worry.
On the other hand, John Tavares has a chance at bringing more hockey glory to his home country. This time, he would prefer to not do it on crutches.
Tavares injured his left knee in Canada's 2-1 win against Latvia in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, ending his 2013-14 season. When Canada defeated Sweden 3-0 in the gold medal game, Tavares couldn't even get into his equipment for the celebration. He had to stand on the ice on crutches until some of his teammates came to give him a hand.
"A couple of guys grabbed me as I came out on to the ice and brought me into the pile," Tavares said Thursday. "Those are the moments you want to be a part of. Obviously you want to be in the battles and contributing the best you can. I'm not complaining, I've still got a gold medal around my neck, but you hope to play in those games and those opportunities."
Us, too, Johnny.
Good luck out there.