Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Do You Like Apples?

How do you like THEM Apples!! Canada over Russia 7-3!!

Canada finally gets to meet a Mortal goalie, and chews them up. And it wasn't the big lines -- it was everyone who has been struggling in this tournament: Nash, Perry, Getzlaf, Boyle... This was an awesome win for Canada. And the goals were Canadian style goals: fast counter attacks, driving the net, hard working goals! Its a shame that Russia had to go out in the Quarters; they were a spectacular team who deserves some success. Perhaps a better story would have had this matchup in the semi-finals. But that's tournament hockey -- and Team Canada is flying high. They'll need to settle and focus for their next game, and I'm confident they'll be ready for Slovakia or Sweden.

Go Canada Go!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Canada Avoids Relegation!

They have now earned the right to once again play in the A-league!

All joking aside, I thought this was a very positive game for Canada. There were some mistakes, to be sure, but there was a lot of good as well. Crosby/Staal/Iginla have got some mojo, the Sharks continue to click, and Nash and Toews are really gonna make a difference. Pronger and Bergeron find themselves with Brodeur on the outside looking in, but it shouldn't bother any of them. They need to be ready to help out when called on, and motivate the team.

It was a shame that Getzlaf and Perry can't seem to find their groove - perhaps Morrow and Richards have earned some more icetime, but its hard to say what's gonna happen game to game.

I applaud Team Canada for at least showing the poise to come out strong and fight though their troubles. Now Hopefully they won't need a period to warm up and hit the net vs. the Russians. The Russians are fearful, but I give Team Canada even money - it should be a great (but tense) game. I won't even try to suggest what Canada needs to do to win -- it just seems like such a big game, to try and even talk about it unless you are Scotty Bowman you'd sound like an idiot.

On Shea Weber's goal: the puck was going so fast it not only went through the mesh, it went through without splitting the mesh. This means that the puck's molecular composition was literally compromised; it passed through Time itself! It went to PLAD, man!!

On Nash not getting his penalty shot: it would have been nice to see Nash get the shot, but I completely understand Babcock going to Crosby. Crosby is being looked to to lead this team offensively. He will be called upon in every shootout situation, and looked to for big goals. This was exposure to a pressure situation to set the expectations.  Crosby missed today - but he'll be even more ready tomorrow. In the end, it was a good coaching move.

Go Canada Go! You have eaten a lot of crap this tournament, you deserve some success!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Get Ready For Something Special...

Tonight Team Canada lost to the USA 5-3 in a game where the good guys were never able to get a lead. We were beat by B-Ryan Rafalski and Ryan Miller (note: there are something like 8 USA hockey players named Ryan,) -- a defenceman having the game of his life and perhaps the best goalie playing today.

Brodeur was not himself. He made some great saves, he played pretty well... can't fault him for the 2 tip goals, can you? But to me he looked like he was trying too hard. Everytime he tried something "special" it ended up in our net (the super-cool baseball-bat play, and the diving missed poke check.) Marty is best when he is boring; and in this game he put on a show - intentional or not.

Enough about that. Every analyst, from Hitchcock to McGuire to the idiot hacks (me) are pointing the finger at Brodeur. Poor guy... its not fair, but c'est la guerre.

We are gonna see Luongo in net for the rest of the tournament -- and Luongo is gonna win. Why am I confident? 2 reasons:
  1. Luongo is gonna have that positive nervous energy knowing he was not expected to carry the team, but now has been yoked with that responsibility. He is the kind of player who responds to the challenge, and is gonna be awesome.
  2. Team Canada is gonna feel pretty bad for getting Marty benched. They are gonna step up their game for Luongo. Its a wake-up call, and I believe there is enough character to respond.
In 2002 Patrick Roy backed out of the Olympics - no one really knows the real reason, but I believe its because he figured Brodeur had the better chance of winning the tourney (but if Patty is on the team, Patty starts.) Brodeur walks in knowing everyone is wondering if he can do it, and he answers.

In the 2004 Hockey World Cup Luongo had to play the semi-final game against the fearsome Czech Republic - in quite possibly the best hockey game I have seen in my life, Luongo rose to the occasion and made it happen. (they won 4-3 in overtime.)

Canada can no longer be a favourite for the Gold, after only winning 1 game in regulation. The pressure is not off, but I think other teams will now be focused on the USA and the Russians. Team Canada is poised for a historic comeback, and Luongo is gonna be the foundation of the meteoric rise to hockey GLORY!!!

Or not I dunno. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

On The Swiss

So the Swiss once again put a scare into Team Canada, this time by taking them to a shootout, where finally Sid was able to crack Hiller for the winning goal.

How did it end up this way? How where the Swiss able to go the distance with Team Canada, after falling 3-1 to the States and having a very limited NHL roster?

What I saw was, in the second half of the game, the Swiss played a better Canadian style game than Team Canada. They were harder on the puck, forced turnovers, dirtier, uglier, and again able to get sticks and bodies in the way of Canadian scoring chances. I saw the Swiss out-muscle Canada in almost every battle; this gave them puck possession, and they were able to control the pace of the game. I know Team Canada out-shot the Swiss 18-3 in the third; but Hiller only had to make a couple "great" saves - the rest of the shots were pretty low percentage.

The Swiss also played without any fear of taking penalties -- whereas Team Canada looked like a big dog on a short leash. Pronger takes 1 bad penalty, and everyone freaks out - there was only 1 strong shift by the Morrow line to start the third - and the Swiss were hitting harder and forcing turnovers. This is how Canada normally plays! Our penalty kill should be strong enough to allow our team to go out there and kick some ass!

And I know we had a lot of power plays, but there was a non-call on Crosby getting sticked in the face, and there was a non-call on Perry getting kneed in the first period. If Canada did that to the Swiss, the players would be up on murder charges.

Canada is playing like they need to be the perfect team: no penalties, perfect passing plays, giving lots of respect to the opposition with the puck... and to a certain extent they are right. (Insert Gretzky rant here.) We have an excellent team. But they have to stop trying to be Dudley Do-Right / Captain Perfection and play 'our' game.

Our game beats you high, and it beats you low.

Anyhow. Team Canada has had their wakeup call - and I am confident they will answer. The other teams will know that an aggressive forecheck will cause problems for Canada, and sitting back (like the Norwegians) will fail. So Canada had best be ready for more of what they got from the Swiss.

Go Canada Go!!