They are teammates in the NHL, Jonathan Quick and Drew Doughty, and back when the Los Angeles Kings won the 2012 Stanley Cup, Quick was voted most valuable player of the playoffs, though Doughty could have easily been the choice as well.
They are friends and they rely on each other professionally, night in and night out. On Wednesday, they bumped into each other at the meal hall in the Olympic Athlete's Village and discussed what it might be like if Doughty's Canadian team were to face Quick and the Americans in the men's Olympic hockey semi-final, which is exactly what will happen Friday.
Doughty told Quick about his fervent wish - the game goes to a shootout and coach Mike Babcock would trust him enough to deploy him as one of his shooters, since Doughty knows the ins and outs of Quick's game about as well as anyone.
For that matter, Doughty also figured that he and Kings' captain Dustin Brown will be butting heads when the two teams meet, Brown because he plays a physical agitating style, and Doughty because he likes to push back. Doughty absolutely crackled with enthusiasm at the prospect of playing head-to-head against two NHL teammates and good friends.
"You want those bragging rights - for the rest of the season; for the rest of your life really," said Doughty Thursday, following Canada's practice. "I'm really close with both those guys, Quickie and Brownie, but I want to beat them so badly. We're big rivals, us and the U.S., especially after our last Olympics. It's going to be a lot of fun.''
Beyond the chance to qualify for the men's Olympic hockey final, Friday's semi-final between the U.S. and Canada is an intriguing fraternal clash, a matchup of Kings and Canadiens, Penguins and Blackhawks, Blues and Sharks.
There is Max Pacioretty trying to score against Montreal teammate Carey Price. There is Sidney Crosby, trying to break free against the Penguins' defensive duo of Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin. There is a meeting of former Chicago playoff MVPS - Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. There is David Backes against Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester, Joe Pavelski against Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
"I don't think either of us doubted it at all that at some point we'd be facing off whether it's the semi-final or the final," said Toews. "To win a gold medal, we felt like it's pretty much necessary to go through the U.S. at some point and them the other way around."
U.S. coach Dan Bylsma once played for Canadian coach Mike Babcock with the Anaheim Ducks and the two have previously coached against each other during the Pittsburgh-Detroit Stanley Cup finals. Bylsma also coaches Crosby with the Penguins and was careful to separate the task at hand - negating Crosby's contributions in one game internationally - with the broader, long-term goal of spurring him on to greater heights during the NHL regular season and playoffs.
Bylsma wasn't involved with the U.S. team four years ago. Instead, he watched the 2010 gold-medal final in a restaurant bar in Pittsburgh and said he knew, as soon as the puck was on Crosby's stick, coming out of the corner, the game was over.
"The place was packed," remembered Bylsma. "We hit the crossbar that would have won the game in overtime. I remember the play along the boards in the left corner, the puck pops out to Sidney, he got to the dot and I started getting up out of my chair.
"I felt the same disappointment as everybody else did in that bar. But I kind of had a feeling that once he got to the dot, it might find the back of the net - which it did. I can't say I was happy for Sid. If it had to be someone, I'm not surprised it was Sid. There was a lot of disappointment. I don't know. At the time I wasn't anywhere close to the 2014 Games, but I got up from that chair and was ready to try to get to 2014, I know that."
Zach Parise, the U.S. captain, forced the overtime period four years ago by scoring a goal in the final minute of regulation. Parise said Friday he hadn't watched a replay of that game until just recently, when he was flipping through channels and picked it up in the second period. Might he have watched it more often if it had gone the other way? He laughed. Probably yes, he said.
"The one moment that stuck in my mind was obviously the finish," said Backes, "when we were right there and didn't achieve the goal that we set out for. But the whole Olympics, and the atmosphere in that barn for the gold-medal game, it hasn't been replicated in playoffs or anything that I've been a part of.
"It's giving me chills right now thinking about it."Report Typo/Error