Canada Vs. USA Postgame

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A 5-3 loss to the United States is not a particularly enjoyable game for any fan of Team Canada.

Personally, I’m of two minds about it.  The rational side of my personality recognizes that the Canadians were better at almost every facet of the game and that the real difference makers were in net.  Martin Brodeur, who has been on a two month slide and didn’t look good in a win over the Swiss didn’t look good here either, allowing two goals on the first four shots and looking uncharacteristically bad while handling the puck.  Ryan Miller was tremendous, as was Jonas Hiller on Thursday, and looked a lot like the Vezina frontrunner that he is.  That rational part of me also recognizes that this was one game, that last time Canada won gold they had an even uglier defeat at the hands of Sweden (a loss which prompted the move from Curtis Joseph to Brodeur) and that every thing needs to be kept in perspective.

The other half of me is bitterly disappointed.  I’m not making broad statements about the national character (as one commenter did in the post below) or writing the team off, but I’m still angry.  The decision to start Brodeur seemed like the safe choice, but it was also the wrong one given how he and Luongo have played over the last two months.  A part of me rages at every player who took an undisciplined penalty, and that list is a lengthy one.  The image of Ryan Kesler sweeping the puck away from Corey Perry and into the empty net had me spitting with rage at a player I never much liked to begin with.  The problems seem to be myriad.

The reality is probably somewhere in the middle.  Minus goaltending, the Canadians were the better team.  Not a perfect team, and at times not even a particularly good team, but better than their opposition.  Some changes need to be made, starting in net and going from there.  Brent Seabrook deserves more ice-time, particularly given the struggles of other defencemen (veterans and youth alike).  Up front, Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley and somewhat surprisingly Jonathan Toews have been Canada’s best players and they ought to get more ice-time.

Three Stars

 

1. Ryan Miller.  The Sabres’ goaltender was excellent in net and kept the Americans in the game despite some ugly results on the shot clock.  He won the goaltending matchup by a significant margin.

2. Brian Rafalski.  Two goals in the first period alone tell part of but not the entire story; he moved the puck effectively and played solid defensive hockey too.  He’s a key veteran for the Americans and his importance has only been increased with the absence of Paul Martin.

3. Duncan Keith.  Canada’s best defenceman at the tournament by a significant margin, Keith played well at both ends of the ice.  I lost count of the number of times he simply held the puck in at the offensive blue-line or made a smart pass to help Canada move through the neutral zone with speed.  He edges out a bunch of other deserving players, notably Ryan Kesler on the American side and Jonathan Toews up front.

Comments (34)

  1. I do enjoy broad statements about the national character based on the results of a single hockey game…

    I stayed up way too late watching this game in the central European time zone last night. I’d have pulled Brodeur after the second goal. It would’ve been a bold move, sure, but Brodeur just didn’t look comfortable. He settled down a little, just not enough.

    Rafalski was amazing, just stunningly good. It’s incredible how far a great performance from a talented defenseman and an hot goalie can take a team, especially when only a couple of guys really looked dangerous offensively. I don’t know why Ron Wilson keeps throwing Stastny out with Parise, it’s clearly not working. Joe Pavelski is easily the best American centre right now. Stastny should probably be playing with more of a one-shot scorer like Kessel or Ryan while Backes or Drury centre for Parise and Langenbrunner. The Kesler-Kane combo had their moments, though.

    Doughty impressed me. He had some shaky moments but the confidence the coaching staff showed in him having him out there late, then that spinarama move at the blueline late in the game…pretty cool. He’s quite a player. Keith too. I don’t know why Babcock hasn’t re-united Getzlaf, Heatley and Nash. Heatley looks good, but he’s carrying Joe Thornton. Getzlaf is having trouble with Perry struggling, and Perry is probably better suited to a checking/agitating role at this level. And as much as people keep claiming there’s chemistry between Nash and Crosby, I don’t see it. I thought Crosby was largely invisible except for a few good shifts and high-sticking Brooks Orpik. Staal was pretty good, he could probably push the tempo of Crosby’s game a little if they were on the same line.

    And I never questioned the Dan Boyle over Mike Green call before. I’ve always thought Boyle was the better player. But man, Mike Green would be a welcome sight in there over Dan Boyle right now, to say nothing of how nice it would be to have Stamkos, Smyth, and Doan instead of Bergeron, Morrow and Perry…

  2. and you make no mention of Eric Stall, I think he has been one of Canada’s best, Also Rick Nash should have his own line,

  3. Jon, I have to agree with your take on Corey Perry, ( but he does score clutch goals). The yellow brick road just got longer, and I think, after going through Germany, and Russia, will have to make a stop in Sweden, or Finland now.

  4. Brian P: I like your post. But, could have, should have, doesn’t work now. We have to put this puzzle together with the pieces that we have.

  5. The coach is to blame in my opinion, i said it before and i’ll say it again, he has to stop playing with the lineups and i cant understand why they keep brodeur in net when he is obviously not playing his best, after the swiss game i was expecting luongo back in net or even fleury. Bad coaching decisions are gonna cost canada and if this keeps up i dont even think they will make it to the medal round let alone a gold medal. sad but true.

  6. Wishful thinking, I know. But if they can’t have Stamkos, Smyth and Doan, they could still put Getzlaf, Heatley and Nash back together. Even if having Crosby and Nash on the same line does create the possibility of allusions to bands from the 70′s.

  7. Perry belongs in the FAIL category for fucking up any chance at a comeback. As much as I love the guy, Brodeur should lose the starting job to Luongo. He has been way too shaky in the last two games, especially that sorry attempt to play baseball which started the US’s second goal. The boys need to step it up a notch though and get some more fire in there belly. That top line of Crosby, Nash, and Iginla needs to be reunited, with Crosby getting more ice time. I’m tired of watching the big San Jose three muster chances but not finish.

  8. i agree with chris, Babcock is making dumb choices, crosby and iginla were awesome in the 1st game and have hardly played since, u have to keep guys familar with each other playing together. Luongo should start too, Brodeur looked like a 38 year old goalie last night. there’s still hope but the road is going 2 be extremely tough!!

  9. Miller was standing on his head…made all the difference.
    Mr Brouder played well, the goals were deflections …the last goal withe Mr. Brouder not in net was lame, good for Americans but lame on part of the Canadians.
    Americans made the most of their chances and won the game…
    We will be back.
    John

  10. Every coach in this tournament is moving lines around. Lack of chemistry is not a valid excuse for the players, and I don’t think we can blame Babcock too much for moving guys around because every other coach is too.

    Besides, if we’re talking chemistry he’s got his San Jose line and his Anaheim line and frankly Thornton hasn’t looked good and Perry/Getzlaf have not been good either. Staal’s been okay but I’m still a little annoyed at the penalites he’s taken in the tournament.

  11. Stamkos, would have been a great addition. So would Mike Fisher, for his ruggedness along the boards.

  12. Maybe every coach is playing with lines but that doesnt mean canada has to. The majic was found in game one , 4 solid lines , goaltending was there and the defense was too. there is an old saying IF IT AINT BROKE DONT FIX IT. If canada loses out in these olympics, Mike Babcock is to blame regardless of what happens from here on out. I’m not a professional nhl coach but i have played a lot of hockey and maybe thats the problem these professionals are overthinking everything and should try using this plan – KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid! Go back to game one strategy is what i say, norway wasnt exactly top caliber opponent but Canada did play a great game.

  13. enough with trying out people on the first line… Crosby, Iginla, Nash. Easy… why would you try richards or bergeron in a position that a pure scorer like Iginla should be filling? Pronger and Niedrmayer have been terrible! I know the whole coulda shoulda woulda game is getting old… but Jay Bouwmeester anyone?

  14. Goaltending and Coaching is to blame, broduer was not convincing enough against the swiss to even be thought of to start this game.I cant remember seeing one team dominate the other team so badly and not come away with the win.Broduer is a legend ( arguably greatest of all time) but babcock needs to do his job, and stop playing favorites.

  15. And kudos to miller, dont want to take anything away from his preformance, he deserved the win, his team couldve done a better job, but so couldve our goalie

  16. I dont belive the coach is totaly at blame in this yes he keeps changing the lines but he is just trying to find lines that work. I belive at the end of the game he went back to the great line of crosby nash and iginla. we must remember that not all hope is lost in 02 we lost a game and still ended up winning the gold. with that being said i would like to see how luongo in net against the germans its worth a shot he played well against norway and got the shutout while even ryan miller surrendered a goal to them. last but not least miller had to stand on his head to beat us i mean he faced over 40 shots and only surrendered 3 goals so i belive almost all the of the credit must go to miller in this win if the americans did not have such a stealer goalie between the pipes we would certanly have a bye into the next round.

  17. Coach’s fault, and Martin (fish out of water) Brodeur. Some guys haven’t played well, but that’s because they shouldn’t be on the team anyway (bergeron, perry, thorton, marleau, pronger, niedermayer)… so that is on Mr. Steven Y. I critisized this group from the moment it was selected and now its plaing out like a nightmare that comes true the next day! Our top guys are holding their own, but we still face elimination before the quarters… hope im wrong about this lineup!

  18. It’s a tough road now, not impossible, but tough. In the future no players over 33, Brodeur, Pronger and Nedermeiyer all old. I can’t help to think what Stamkos would have meant to this team, also Green leads all Defensemen with pp points. As far as coaching goes, Im not impressed, should have yanked brodeur after 2nd goal, let the lines develop chemistry, and why was Brodeur still in net when they had all that pressure with under 2 minutes to go.

    Hockey Canada also need to hire a hockey gm to build team canada in the future. Not retired players. It looks good when you have all those Detroit guys, because they’ve been one of the most successful NHL franchises in the last 20 years, but I attribute that to Bowman, since he’s left their drafts have been less than stellar and Chicago’s have been very good.

  19. We can win with the group of guys that we have. I think they are playing too up tight, and I bet it still has something to do with Olympic jitters. There is so much pressure for these guys to win, especially having every game being a home game. The fans in the seats can be a great motivator but it can also crush a player. If Team Canada is going to win the gold they are going to have to play with some heart and get back to simple Canadian hockey. Its called our game for a reason and its time for these multi-millionaire superstars to step up and play some hockey!

  20. Brodeur was pathetic. three assists for the wrong team. Congrats Marty. He was all over the place. For a goalie he’d make a sad-sacked slow pitch player. He was a batter for one of the goals a shortstop, for another, diving for the puck, which he missed. He is so pasted his prime. The sad part is that even if we replace him, Luongo not close to a clutch goalie. Both he a Brodeur love to call penalties for the refs during the play leaving them constantly caught out of position.

  21. Jon, Canada had chemistry in the first game with Crosby, Nash and Iginla. It still boggles my mind why Babcock started to mess around with that top line. I think a big blame can be put on the coaching though. My personal beef is keeping all of these lines from the NHL together. This is “Team Canada” not “Team San Jose” or “Team Anaheim”. Yes, these players had success on the NHL level and are line mates, but Olympic hockey is much different then the NHL. Babcock got lazy and though that keeping these pairings would produce the same results instead of trying to match up players based on their individual roles. This is nothing but poor planing on all of the managers and coaches parts. You win with your best on the ice and it seems like the last two games our best players haven’t been playing as much as they should.

  22. I’m not too happy with some of the picks for team Canada. They should have taken Jordan Staal, and Steven Stamkos for P.Bergeron, and C. Perry (shutting out Canada’s chance for not hustling for the puck with the game on the line in the 3rd period). With Jordan Staal they would have had a good penalty killer capable of scoring on the P.K. With Steven Stamkos what’s more to say he’s lighting up the red lamp in the NHL. They should have played Marc-Andre Fleury in the beginning to see where he stands he deserves the respect for winning the cup recently, and giving him knowing what it takes to win big games. You got to take the best of what Canada produces, not question mark players like Bergeron, and Corey perry.

  23. Edward:

    You would not want to read this site had they started Marc-Andre Fleury. He’s #3 with a bullet, and deservedly so. Seriously, don’t you think Martin Brodeur knows ‘what it takes to win big games’? Of course he does.

    But since January 1, Luongo’s been far and away the best of these three goalies. He’s the guy who should have started.

  24. Fleury? Are you serious you’d actually want Fleury in net over Brodeur and Luongo. Sorry to tell you Edward but Fleury did not win the cup because of him being great it was the team infront of him that got him that ring. His stats from last year prove that. Jon already brought this up that he’s still no where near the same class of goaltender as Brodeur and Luongo he’s just good enough to be a head of the rest.

    I said it once and I’ll say it again this all came down to goaltending and that’s how the States won this contest. But everyone else has already pointed out Brodeur’s problems thus far and how Luongo should get the nod so I’ll leave it at that. Things are hopeless yet people but it’s win or go home now. So they better get there act together.

  25. I meant to say aren’t hopeless yet… damn typos.

  26. Ryan Getzlaf is playing shit. Probably because HE IS INJURED! and should not be on the team. uuurrrgghh

    You will not find lines that work by constantly trying out new ones; keep lines together and the boys will make it work.

    Yes, after the first period, Luongo “shoulda”, without any drama, been slid into net. In spite of making some key saves — which any of them could have made — Brodeur looked lost and he has been over eager and over playing the puck as if showing off…. stop the puck and leave it nicely for your D; you don’t need to make a play with it.

    Deflections. Yes, you are an elite goalie and expected to stop them.

    Niedemayer I expected to be a liability and he is. I had more faith in the Pronger selection but… Young guns looked great most of the time.

  27. Starting Brodeur was not the wrong call. The job was his to lose, and deservedly so, and a 8-0 blowout against an overmatched Norway team for Luongo and a narrow victory over the Swiss wasn’t enough for him to lose the spot. He’s earned that much.

    On the other hand, this game was enough for him to lose the job, and it was probably a mistake not to pull Brodeur sometime before the second period started.

    And yeah, Fleury being #3 on the chart is the right call too.

  28. Anyone it Canada could have picked 23 Canadian players and that team would likely have had a chance to win. But that’s it, a chance. Nothing is guaranteed. There are some guys I would have taken that aren’t here but this “If they lose it’s this guys fault” bs is just that. BS. The top teams in the world are too close to predict a winner in a single game elimination type of event. Canadian hockey fans need to stop whining and enjoy the hockey.

    There are a lot of great players not at the Olympics for Canada, but they guys there are more then capable of winning. Each game they’ve gotten better and here’s hoping, win or lose, they put their best effort forward in the days to come. I do believe Luongo’s gonna get his opportunity. GO Canada GO

  29. Opposition teams have played long enough in the NHL against our Canadian all star team to know that the secret to beating Canada is to outwork them , and not be intimidated by them , as is so frequent in the junior ranks . They simply have grown accustomed over time to a more physical /gritty game . Had Phaneuf and Regehr made club , i believe Canada would have imposed a needed physical boost on blueline . Niedermayer looks his age out there ,and Pronger has lost something as well . Brodeur simply has not played well enough , while others on other teams have simply played better than he has . Canada does not look like a physically imposing defencesive team , and the opposition is successfully challenging them time and again and winning a lot of puck battles . We are not out of it by any means just yet , but they are going to have to have better goaltending that Brodeur has provided , and the back end has to be more imposing physically . On offence we are not having a net presence like most of us probably expected considering the players we have and their size ! The opposition teams, have seemed to have a relatively easy time up till now, keeping our boys playing on the periphery . Thats something i figured would not happen given the character and size of our forwards . Maybe our team is built more for a Stanley Cup run , than a one game shot thing like some of these tournaments are ?

  30. Ray ferarros comments last night against Finland were unacceptable,the needs to be fired.
    Kinda funny how the panel never even discused the so called big hit.and they tried to cover up his comments.
    FERRARO NEEDS TO GET THE AXE!!

  31. Enough with the “if X was on the team instead of Y…” comments.
    Team Canada is STACKED. The players they have now are more than good enough to win gold. If they don’t – and they didn’t help themselves yesterday – it will be because of poor execution and bad bounces.

    Ryan Miller stole the game. The Americans were out-chanced in every facet but capitalized on their opportunities (with Brodeur’s help…). The Americans played a great “road game” and were able to hang on for the game.

    C’est la vie. We still have a shot.

    PS: I was incredibly incredibly impressed by Doughty. He had a weak game against the Swiss, but bounced back big time. Not only did he not f*ck up in his own zone, but he also displayed a lot of creative offensive flair and even blocked a few shots. He’s the real deal.

  32. What is wrong with Babcock? One big mistake I felt was Iginla with Nash and Crosby played maybe two shifts together in the game and it was all pressure on the USA. Was Mike sleeping during the Norway game? C’mon wake the hell up Mike! This ain’t the Red Deer College Kings your coaching here!!!

  33. Less Pronger and less baseball from Brodeur………more Doughty, Weber and Keith……..a little Jordan Eberle tossed in on the side and the boys will be just fine

  34. What is wrong with our goal tenders? why do they have to go way out of their way and their crease to clear players away. Luongo put himself out position for the goal. Earlier, he also was trying to get a whistle when the puck hit his mask. just imagine a German took a shot while he was playing ref, and scored. Is he mental. PLAY GOALIE, NOT REF OR D. Go Fluery go. no Olympic baggage just a Stanely Cup! At least put him on the bench, please!

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