Today marks Canada’s first elimination game: a qualifying match against Germany at 4:30 Pacific Time.  If Canada wins, they’ll continue on to play a quarterfinal game against Russia tomorrow; of course if they lose the tournament ends here.  Join us in the Live Blog:

Roberto Luongo has been confirmed as Canada’s starter, replacing Martin Brodeur, whose two month slide in NHL play has carried over to the Olympics.  The one bright spot in the transition is that it is occurring now: had Brodeur put in an effort similar to the one against the United States on Sunday during an elimination game, the tournament would already be over.  Despite a shaky final NHL game against Minnesota, Luongo’s been very good since January and made some good stops en route to a shutout win over Norway in Canada’s first game.

Despite where the Canadians are, I don’t think wholesale changes are needed: the goalie switch was the most important adjustment to the lineup, and other minor moves will be needed, and this game against the Germans is a good opportunity to get one last run at finding where players fit.

Despite the switch in Canada’s net, the most important player in this game is Thomas Greiss, the 24 year-old backup goaltender from the San Jose Sharks.  Germany cannot compete with Canada either up front or on the back end, and like both Switzerland and the United States will need its goalie to steal the game for them.  Greiss has been impressive in limited minutes for the Sharks but has an uninspiring track record in the AHL and isn’t close to being as consistently good as a Jonas Hiller or Ryan Miller, but he can get hot and this is the biggest game of his career.  If he stands on his head and the Germans can get some offence – most likely from one of Marco Sturm, Jochen Hecht or Marcel Goc up front, or Christian Ehrhoff on the power play – they have some chance of upsetting Canada.

It’s up to the Canadians to deny them that opportunity.  The individual talents on this roster are undeniable, and there can be no quarter shown, just a continual, merciless offensive onslaught from the forwards.  Players like Chris Pronger and Eric Staal need to play with discipline, eschewing the careless penalties that have plagued the Canadians.  Luongo needs to be the best goaltender on the ice.

Comments (18)

  1. Jonathan, what do you think about the newest line combos?
    staal – crosby – iginla
    nash – getzlaf – perry
    marleau – thorton – heatly
    bergeron – toews – richards – morrow
    I like them, however won’t grow too attached since Babcock will probably have them all messed around by the midway point of the game regardless of how well they are working. When is too much shuffle button enough already? Any word on Defensive pairings? Would love to see Prongers ice time reduced significantly… he scares me with his slow feet. Finally I completely agree with the Luongo move, Brodeur looked terrible last game, which I am aware isn’t a bold statement at this point!

  2. Mike babcock is still experimenting with lines? Go figure, you’d think he’d learn from the swiss and u.s. game. If Canada is gonna win this shuffling has to stop. The coaching for this team has been terrible since game 2. I no longer have any confidence in the coaching staff for team canada and would be very surprised if they beat germany , even more surprised if they make it to the quarterfinal and beat russia. Unless they wake up and small the coffee ovechkin and company is going to outplay and outman these guys. they think they had a hard time with hillar and miller with until they meet nabakov (if they make it.).

  3. Howedy:

    That’s bold. It seems like the biggest thing to come out of the American game is that Crosby isn’t going to be relied on to do any work in his own end anymore.

  4. Chris pull your head out of your ass. Canada will beat Germany. You have to be brain dead to think otherwise. I would like to see Heatley however moved to the top line with Crosby and either Iginla or Nash. Thorton and Marleau have been dead weight, and unless they start picking it up see them relegated to 4th line duties.

  5. RE: The Coaching Staff

    Mike Babcock, Jacques Lemaire, Ken Hitchcock and Lindy Ruff know a thing or two about hockey. I still have confidence in their judgement.

  6. So i guess in going with these lines they put Iginla and Crosby together for offensive purposes which I like cause it’s much needed, but they won’t be sent out for a defensive zone faceoff ever. Another thing I forgot to add is that I know the “shoot the puck” mentality is incorrect and very cliche at this point, but having said that: JOE THORTON SHOOT THE FRICKIN PUCK ALREADY! He is ridiculous with how long he holds the puck, makes passes that don’t gain any better positioning in the offensive zone and just fails to pull the trigger in prime scoring zones altogether. I think that Glass Joe sould be ridin pine if he keeps this crap up, could easily slide Heatly up to line two, perry back to 3 and one of the centres with the fourth unit up to 3. They need to leave Crosby with the same wingers for more than a frickin period though, would nice to have 1 game of chemistry building should we escape ze Germans.

  7. Jonathan
    what do u think these line ups ,
    stall crosby heatly
    nash thornton iginla
    marleau getzlaf richard
    bergeron toews morrow
    perry playing on line 3 and 4 when needed
    play 6 d
    and bench pronger, he’s too friggin slow
    i wish they had
    stamkos , doan and vinny insted of perry , doan, bergeron, i know vinny is having a bad year but the guy has a cup ring and experience
    as for the d , pronger and boyle and niedermayer out
    dion,green and jabo
    were playing too soft !!!!!!1
    i wasnt happy about dougthy on the team, but the kid is amazing , i was wrong there
    webber , doughty and kieth have been out best d, hopefully they continue
    we will win against germany, anyone thinking otherwise is stupid
    and it will be tight against russia tomorrow but canada should come on top

  8. Common people…our team outshot the Americans by 3.5 to 1 ratio and probably outchanced them 10 to 1 so rather than making wholesale changes…they already made the GLARING deficient area..NETMINDING! Loungo is not necessarily an upgrade to Brodeur ( historically wise) but the Vancouver crowds should be more suppportive with LOU, LOU chant! That takes care of that!

    I agree that Pronger is slow afoot but this should not be as much of a concerned since the forwards from Germany are nowhere as speedy and guiled as the Americans i.e. Kessler,Ryan,Kessel, Kane, et al! When they face the Russians, it behooves our coaching staff to maybe make the adjustment then and hide Pronger againts the spedier Russians..maybe play him againts the third line and DO NOT use him during odd man situations, perhaps?

    NOW….I behemently disagree of breaking up the San Jose line! They have been the most consistent scoring line ( Heatly ..i hate that name, am from Edmonton but supporting him for this two weeks)! Absolutely nothing is wrong with the Iginla ( another name i hate, for obvious reasons), Crossby and Nash line…At this time, I do not beleive a line shuffling is necessary…if anything, shorten the bench much sooner! Play 3 lines after the 10 minute mark of the first period and adjust from there…only use Bergeron, Morrow and Richards sparingly or until we get well ahead! DONT forget, these guys are used to playing tons of minutes during NHL games…give them those minutes so they can do what they are good at..and that’s to make palys and score goals! GO CANADA!!!!

  9. ozzmooosis: I don’t think we’re playing too soft; we’re playing too stupid. Lots of undisciplined penalties, and I don’t think substituting Phaneuf for Pronger helps with that.

    I don’t mind your lines, but I’m a little confused by your reasoning: you say bring Lecavalier because he has a cup ring and experience, but then you want to dump Pronger, Boyle, and Niedermayer for three guys who don’t have a cup ring. It’s not consistent.

  10. The lines I listed are not me playing armchair coach. They are what will skate out for tonight’s game based on practice yesterday. No speculation, just what is going to happen! Link:

    I would rather discuss what is infact going to be the scenario than create more hypathetical situations that are pointless at this stage. Still have not seen anything regarding defensive pairings, anyone?

  11. Oh and Dion Paneuf is not going to help here… didn’t deserve to make team flat out. Jay Bouwmeester is the defenceman that was overlooked for this team, he provides the speed and positioning that some of the older slower choices lack… and he is not stupid in his own end like Phaneuf!

  12. Howedy: No, I haven’t seen defensive pairings.

  13. Mike Green was the D overlooked, I love Phaneuf and Bouwmeester…But Green’s almost a point per game…

  14. I really do think they messed up by taking pronger and thornton and niedemeyer, should have took a page from the usa play book and went with younger players, what the tournaments are all about now, no more old guys with experience, much different game now then 10 years ago

  15. This is going to be Dieppe all over again.

  16. Does Joe Thorton have a heart this guy plays some nights like he is out for a Sunday afternoon skate no wonder the Sharks disappear in April with this guy is there supposed leader.

  17. Everyone here has had some good things to say but i’m suprised that i didn’t see anyone talking about the powerplay. Coming in everyone was saying how important it is and well i’d have to agree. So far the powerplay has looked lost out there! I really think having Mike Green on the point doing his thing and Steve Stamkos on the wing winding up for that amazing one timer would make a huge difference…can’t wait to see the day when Pronger is left off of team canada.

  18. put ruff in charge, and go canada i still believe in the team, but jesus babcock needs too stop being a bone head

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