On the heels of a lop-sided 8-2 victory over Germany, Team Canada continues its quest for gold tonight with a quarterfinal game against Russia at 4:30 Pacific Time.
I chose the photo above because it’s a fine representation of Canada’s dominance against Germany, but also because of the player on the far right: Jonathan Toews. Prior to the tournament I quibbled with the selection of Toews; I was willing to admit he was a fine player but I didn’t think he deserved to be on this team over some of the other options.
I was wrong about that. Toews has been excellent despite rather limited ice-time, and he currently leads Canada in plus/minus with a plus-7 rating. He also has five points (all assists) which puts him behind only Dany Heatley and Sidney Crosby for the team lead. I haven’t run the numbers, but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t Canada’s best scorer relative to ice-time.
I hope he gets more ice-time against the Russians, who could end Canada’s medal hopes. There are some players – mostly veterans – underperforming, and Toews would seem a logical choice to move up the line-up if one of them gets shuttled down.
In net, Roberto Luongo didn’t shut the critics up with a perfect game (and in honesty, even in a perfect game he would have heard ‘it’s just Germany’) but he’ll have his best chance to do so tonight. His game against the Germans wasn’t bad – the goals scored against were the result of some ugly defensive breakdowns, particularly the last one, a 2-on-0 breakaway. The true measurement of him – and indeed, the rest of Team Canada - will start being taken tonight.
As with yesterday, we’ll be live-blogging the festivities, and I invite everyone to join us.