In the first week of grade nine English, we’re all taught how to construct a plot diagram. For those with other interests at the time (girls, lunch, not class), it’s a spiked graph that intimidates young minds by making English look like math.
This game would have sent my English teacher into instant convulsions. He was a rare man who loved his literature and his hockey, and suddenly those two worlds intersected in perfect harmony on Sunday afternoon during Canada’s 4-1 win over Switzerland.
First, we had the exposition; Canada’s failure during another epic battle against the Swedes, and another strong tournament by the Swiss made possible by the curious case of goaltender Benjamin Conz.
Then, the rising action wore out the edges of seats across the country. Canadian goaltender Mark Visentin did his best Goldberg impression, and the newest Canadian tradition of fighting from behind was alive and well. With their edges thoroughly worn, chairs began breaking when the game remained tied late into the second period. Conz was doing what he’s done for two years, keeping his team afloat.
Casey Cizikas provided the climax and mercifully finally gave Canada a lead with his powerplay goal in the second, and from then the action slowly fell as Canada solidified another appearance in the semi-finals, guaranteeing a shot at the podium. This time it’ll be against the U.S., this year’s powerhouse and tournament favourite.
It’s a plot that will end promptly if Canada keeps getting the kind of poor goaltending we’ve seen over the past two games.
A little more of this, please
I think it’s safe to say that if the Kings didn’t draw the dishevelled ire of Brian Burke by drafting Brayden Schenn with their fifth overall pick in 2009, there would be an earthquake of overreaction rocking southern Ontario right now. It would have been similar to the platonic shifting currently causing a disturbance in Quebec because of Louis Leblanc.
Oh, how quickly we forget the tales of epic professional failure after two weeks of superstardom at the World Juniors, but I digress. Leblanc and Schenn are certainly worth the hype and great expectations, but offensively they’ve carried the goal-scoring load for Canada’s forwards. So in a game that had its scary moments for Canadian fans for about a period-and-a-half, it was encouraging to see Ryan Johansen contribute in the goal scoring column.
Johansen is no stranger to the scoresheet. His eight points–which includes six assists–puts him in a tie for third in this tournament. But for a big bodied power forward, Johansen has resorted to being a playmaker instead of asserting himself in front of the net. Over 102 games with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks over the past two seasons, Johansen has 42 goals, averaging a goal every 2.4 games.
He’s clearly aware of my basic arithmetic. Johansen’s latest was a key goal on the powerplay late in the first period that re-instilled some confidence after 20 minutes of New Year’s hangover hockey, and he now has two goals over five games. Combined his offence (one goal, nine shots), with his physicality (five hits), and Johansen easily earned the Tomlinson Terror award, a fictional trophy that brings the cheese far better than McGuire’s Monster. He was easily the best Canadian forward.
A little less of this, please
We’ve come a long way from the days of Justin Pogge in the crease for Canada at the World Juniors. Given the way Pogge’s career has gone since, I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence.
After some goaltending of the less than reliable variety that contributed to Canada playing a quarter-final game to begin with, Olivier Roy found a nice, cozy seat on the bench. Turns out he had the best seat in the house to watch Mark Visentin’s attempt to make 2011 the year of the goat.
First, Visentin felt compelled to keep up that newest Canadian fad of giving up a momentum crippling goal in the opening minutes. The paralyzing affect of these early markers is multiplied when the goal is of the pre-tyke variety. Visentin committed a cardinal goaltending sin, leaving a gap between the post and his pad and allowing Inti Pestoni to score on a wraparound that deflected off the skate of defenceman Ryan Ellis.
Sadly, that wasn’t the only move by Visentin that made him look like one of those kids skating poetically with Sidney Crosby in a Tim Hortons commercial. In the closing minutes of the second period there was a delayed penalty, which was presumably called against Switzerland because Visentin sprinted towards the Canadian bench. It wasn’t, and for a few seconds Canada had an empty net while Visentin sat where he belonged: on the bench.
Random facts about…Switzerland
For half of this game I feared the disappearance of this segment. I’ve made no attempted to control my Canadian bias so far, and it would have been glaring following an epic Canadian failure. I wouldn’t have had the heart to research Swiss watches, cheese, and chocolate. In fact, I would have boycotted the country all together, and formally requested its removal from all sanctioned political bodies.
Boring but important vitals
Largest exports: Electronics, chocolate, Roger Federer, and horribly unattractive movie stars with Swiss bloodlines.
Best heavily commercialized, but still evidently authentic Swiss chocolate: Lindt
Most attractive female export
We’re once again stretching a female candidate’s export status a bit. Hunziker–a model, singer, and actress–is popular enough to have an English section on her website complete with a mildly frightening greeting page, but she hasn’t truly escaped the boundaries of Europe yet. Unless you saw the highly acclaimed 2009 holiday flick, Christmas in Beverly Hills.
She also gets bonus points for enjoying Oktoberfest with a tall glass of the finest Swiss ale.
- Maybe there’s something about that mountain air and studies that say chocolate keeps the blood flowing, because Switzerland has the second highest life expectancy in Europe.
- They’re all probably utterly and completely false, but we’re going to go ahead and believe the oddball laws that Switzerland has, merely because–just like Russia’s dirty car law–it’s fun to picture how they would be enforced. All these pointless laws seem to revolve around Sunday being maintained as a day of peaceful rest. For example, thou shalt not mow thy lawn on Sunday, or wash thy car.
- Freddie Mercury, the famed former frontman of Queen, spent time in Montreux, Switzerland near the end of his life. Those wishing to pay tribute to a piece of music history can stand in a generic rock pose in front of a statue made in his honour. There’s also a Freddie Mercury every year during the first weekend of September.
- Switzerland is more than just watches and chocolate. They’re also the worldwide leaders in high-end banking, and their guards patrol the Vatican. But who cares, because they brought us man’s best friend, the Swiss Army knife! I dare you to name another tool that can open a beer and sign a credit card slip to buy more beer.