Dustin Brown was a force for the Los Angeles Kings when they won a Stanley Cup in 2012 and won a silver with the U.S. four years ago. But, apart from a sterling effort against the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals, this was a difficult tournament for the Kings' captain, who happened to be on the ice for the first two Finland goals. He played 26 seconds in the second period and just 1:17 in the third.
"I'm not happy about it," Brown said. "It's the coach's job to figure out the best chance to win. If that's what he thinks is ? I'm a player, he's a coach, that's how it works."
Brown was among a core of players whose experience in Vancouver was supposed to help this team avoid this kind of disappointment.
"It's definitely not a pretty sight. The score's obviously not pretty at all," Brown said. "It's hard to explain. I don't really have an answer for you, quite honestly."
Brown was asked whether the U.S. quit.
"I don't think we quit," Brown insisted.
If the Americans didn't quit, they sure did unravel, as the Finns pumped three goals past Quick in the third period, two on the power play as the frustrated Americans paraded through the penalty box.
"Yeah, we did collapse," offered U.S and Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. "We had a great first period, we were all over them, had a couple of good chances, couldn't get one by him and it ended up costing us."
We had the opportunity to watch the U.S. Olympic selection process unfold. It was meticulous. And, in spite of the fact that the Americans managed to generate exactly zero goals in the two games in which they desperately needed them, it's hard to see this outcome as necessarily a flaw in the selection process. The team was built to do exactly what it did for much of the early part of the tournament. It was built to do what it did for the first 30 or so minutes of this bronze-medal game. It was built to win a gold.
But so are all six or seven legitimate medal contenders. In theory, this team was likewise built to win a bronze on this night. But so, too, was Team Finland.
Interestingly, in the postgame media conference, Finnish coach Erkka Westerlund, perhaps feeling for his counterpart Dan Bylsma, who was being grilled because of the team's poor performance, interjected unprompted to say he felt that the U.S. was in fact the best team in the tournament.
Would the presence of Bobby Ryan or Jack Johnson or any of the other talented Americans who weren't selected have changed the outcome here? Anyone who suggests they know the answer to that question is a fool.
Sweden coach Par Marts said something that resonated as he was discussing his team's upcoming gold-medal game against Canada on Sunday.
"Everything is about winning," Marts said. "You can say there [are] two winners in this tournament: the guys who win the bronze and the gold medal; used to be that way, so hopefully we can win tomorrow."
It would be unfair to suggest the Americans didn't appreciate what kind of opportunity was in front of them Saturday. It is fair to say they could find no way to seize that moment and the Finns could.
Here's something else that resonated: We were talking to former U.S. Olympian and Stanley Cup champ Bret Hedican, who was in Sochi providing analysis for American radio, about his experience with the U.S. national team in 1992.