It's worth remembering that Crosby had the game-winner in overtime in the gold medal game against the United States in Vancouver four years ago. That rare moment of vulnerability, like the few the Canadians let out of the bag here, was taken as proof that the rest of the world had caught up. Don't believe a word of it.
What happened four years ago was a case of nerves. It was a team playing a game that unifies 30-plus million of their countrymen, many of whom still believe they're good enough to don the same fabled red sweater — and a few who actually were, yet had to be left behind.
When these Olympics started, a lot of the smart money was on the home team, based less on the results of the past 20 years than the previous 40, when the original Big Red Machine burst on the scene, revolutionized the way the game is played, and challenged the Canadians to catch up.
But tradition is simply a measure of where you've been, not where you're going next. It has to be renewed by one generation after the next, the way it is in Canada, where every kid who straps on a pair of skates loves the game so madly that it's hard to imagine almost anything else mattering that much for the rest of your life.
Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him at Twitter.com/JimLitke.