Canada wins

It’s finally here. With the Olympics getting under way and the hockey starting soon, it’s time to roll out our preview of each team between now and puck drop. May the best team win.

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The basics

Canada’s national hockey team is currently ranked fifth overall in the world, which is confusing, but whatever, here we are. They’re bringing 25 NHLers to fill the allotted 25 spots, they’re coached by Mike Babcock, and they’re the defending gold medal champs after narrowly sneaking past a tough US squad in 2010.canada-2

Member Since April 26, 1920
Total Players 625,152
Male Players 91,379
Junior Players 446,543
Female Players 87,230
Total Referees 0
Indoor Rinks 2,631
Outdoor Rinks 5,000
Nation Population 34,568,211
President Bob Nicholson
Men’s World Ranking 5
Women’s World Ranking 2

(According to the IIHF, there are no referees in the country, which would explain the obvious bloodlust that pervades Canadian hockey culture.)

Group

B, with Austria, Finland, and Norway.

Roster

GOALTENDERS NHL Team
Carey Price Montreal Canadiens
Roberto Luongo Vancouver Canucks
Mike Smith Phoenix Coyotes
DEFENSEMEN  
Alex Pietrangelo St. Louis Blues
Dan Hamhuis Vancouver Canucks
Drew Doughty Los Angeles Kings
Duncan Keith Chicago Blackhawks
Jay Bouwmeester St. Louis Blues
Marc-Edouard Vlasic San Jose Sharks
P.K. Subban Montreal Canadiens
Shea Weber Nashville Predators
FORWARDS  
Jeff Carter Los Angeles Kings
Corey Perry Anaheim Ducks
Jamie Benn Dallas Stars
Martin St. Louis Tampa Bay Lightning
John Tavares New York Islanders
Jonathan Toews Chicago Blackhawks
Chris Kunitz Pittsburgh Penguins
Patrick Marleau San Jose Sharks
Matt Duchene Colorado Avalanche
Patrick Sharp Chicago Blackhawks
Patrice Bergeron Boston Bruins
Rick Nash New York Rangers
Ryan Getzlaf Anaheim Ducks
Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins

Biggest names

Chris Kunitz, Marc Edouard-Vlasic, Dan Hamhuis.

(…C’mon, you don’t need my help here.)

Depth

Marianas Trench.

Strengths

canada_badge-2The NHL is universally accepted to be the best hockey league in the world (with Vladimir Putin being the only holdout there). NHL salaries are handed out based on perceived player value. Team Canada’s roster combined is worth just a hair under $150 million dollars, which is more than $85 million over the NHL salary cap, which is far and away more than any other nation in the tournament. What I’m getting at, is this team is pretty strong all over.

Their biggest strength is probably down the middle, where they’ll roll out Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron, and then pick between guys like John Tavares and Ryan Getzlaf for the next spot. This a group that contains puck-moving d-men, pure shooters, and the rare combination of size and speed (Rick Nash, Jeff Carter, Corey Perry, Jamie Benn and beyond). With a top four of Shea Weber, Duncan Keith, Alex Pietrangelo and Drew Doughty, their offensive horses should have plenty of chance to be off to the races.

Weaknesses

For some reason Canadians are all sketchy about their team’s goaltending, and think it belongs under this header. That’s debatable. Roberto Luongo won the gold medal in 2010 while starting for Canada, and he’s pitched an excellent .919 save percentage so far this season. Carey Price is at .923 while starting for the Montreal Canadiens, soooo, while it may not exactly be a strength when compared to say, Finland, calling it a “weakness” is a bit of a stretch.

Canada’s biggest weakness lies in player selection at forward: Chris Kunitz was selected for his “chemistry” with Sidney Crosby (like another all-world talent would struggle to generate offense with him, somehow), and guys like Patrick Marleau and Jeff Carter were included while Claude Giroux, James Neal, Eric Staal, and Joe Thornton didn’t get the nod. Those debates will rage on if Canada fails, as many people would take any combination of of the names I mentioned over Kunitz/Marleau/Carter.

And finally, on the back-end, you’ve gotta think Canada would prefer to not have to use Hamhuis, Vlasic and Bouwmeester as much as their other five stars, given the talent that’s going to be coming at them in the big games.

Route to the Olympics

They’re ranked fifth internationally, top nine get in. Also, I assume the Olympics is like the Masters golf tournament, where winning once grants you years of exemption. (Note: sadly, this is not true.)

Prediction

Here’s the thing: I have Canada finishing first, because I truly believe they have the best roster, and it’s not worth playing hunches beyond that. But in a single game elimination match against the team I’m going to say finishes second (STAY TUNED), I have them winning about 51 percent of the time. Sooo, it’s a coin toss at that point.

Schedule

Times are GMT+4, (MSK – Moscow Standard Time)

Thursday, February 13th: CANCanada 21:00 NorwayNOR
Friday, February 14th: CANCanada 21:00 AustriaAUT
Sunday, February 16th: FINFinland 21:00 CanadaCAN

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Other Previews

Sweden

USA

Russia

Finland

Czech Republic

Slovakia

Switzerland

Norway

Latvia

Austria

Slovenia

Comments (14)

  1. Zero referees? I agree sometimes I feel like there are no referees out there paying attention to the game ;)

  2. Understandable to have goaltending be a worry since their trio aren’t as likely to steal games and run a tournament. Finland, Sweden and the US all have that with Rask, Lundqvist and Quick.

  3. Do not reasonably understand how people view Price and Luongo as so far inferior to who the other teams will start. In a short tournament, they are within 1% as likely to get hot and play lights out, or at least play solid and mistake free, as the Millers, Quicks, Lunqvists, Rasks etc. I agree that I would take some of the other guys over a full season, I just really can’t see why everyone is so scared about Goaltending, aside from I guess we have to be nervous over something!? I am personally more worried over leaving difference makers at home, but again, it’s not like we Nedved’d our roster so in the grand scheme of things I’m not panicking over the 150 million of talent we have assembled, just boggles my mind the caliber of guys left out of the forward group.

  4. Wooooooo!

    F-ck Peter Chiarelli! (…. if you want St Louis, then take Marchand instead because he’s just like St Louis and I want to mess up the team to make a point… waaah… I wanted Lucic to make it… listen to me complain through the reporters who owe me for prior leaks)

    Fuck Kevin Lowe! (Taylor… waaah…. Waaah… but Taylor Hall)

    What overgrown babies those two retirement aged jokes are.

    St Louis did everything he could possibly do to earn a spot on the team, and he did it without any favours granted.

    Let’s do this Team Canada. Go get the gold, we’ll try to banish Chiarelli and Lowe to the KHL before the end of the tourney to do our part.

    • I happen to know Chiarelli was pissed off beyond words that Yzerman spoke against Lucic for the roster. Yzerman argued that Lucic would be at best narrowly useful on the bigger ice and likely a liability with different officiating. But there is no way Chiarelli was leaking anything to the media, and neither did he plan 9/11 while you’re at it. He takes this job very seriously and I doubt you have any idea how much time he has put into it.

      • You just said Chiarelli leaked something to you, and then said he wouldn’t leak anything.

        He tried to go behind Yzerman’s back and manipulate popular opinion using the media.

        Come on Chiarelli. Come on Darren Dreger. You’re the worst. Act like men, be straight up.

  5. I predict Justin predicts Canada, Sweden, US.

    I’ll take US, Russia, Canada, Sweden.

  6. All right i’m gonna go on a hockey rant here, fueled by home made, well aged 4 day wine. So “UR WARNED” (TM Evilvin Inc) Okay now …..Team Canada:…….we got lotsa studs for sure; Our Defensive picks have 4 of the top 6 spots in scoring in the NHL.. Who knows about the goalies ………..they’ll all get forward goal raped if the D doesn’t do it’s job with all the snipers out there… Our forwards comprise a cornacopia of scoring bliss…………Except for a few obviously boneheaded moves……..I understand that some of the forward choices were perhaps made for positional reasons………..but good players adapt all the time (for instance on the power play). .and can change positions when needed. Allrighty the Yzerman screw-ups. I certainly hope they aren’t trying to spread the selection amongst the teams……….but it would seem so. For instance he selected Rick Nash (LW)..whose got 27 points in 41 games and Jeff Carter (C) whose got 37 in 49 games. Like WTF. When we got Jumbo Joe Thorton (C) who may not be as fast as some of the younger guys but he plays more as a pointman anyways…so he’s the trailer set up guy or he’s the heavy down low on the dump in either way he’s got time to do his stuff and he’s almost immovable. Oh and did i mention he’s got 56 points in 58 games so far. Another egregious crime was not taking Claud Giroux (C) i know he was a slug at the beginning of the season……….a matter of fact i think it took him 15 games to score his first goal this yr. Now he has 56 points in 58 games….he ona role girls and boys and he’s still be feelin it. Lastly……….i’m happier then crap that Mighty Mite St. Louis got on the team…………he shoulda got on even if Stamkos wasn’t still messed up…….after all he ‘s got 55 points in 57 games without Stamkos……………….

  7. Hey Justin, I still like your point that Couture is much more difficult to play against than Carter – he of 0 goals in his last 8. Looks like Couture is still injured though, so it’s a moot point I guess.

  8. Bourne, Crosby didn’t do shit last Olympics until the golden goal. He didn’t click with ANYONE until the final moment of the tournament. That’s why Kunitz was the right call. Forget that he wasn’t drafted and bloomed late — Kunitz scores a ton and Crosby produces alongside him. Looking forward to that line dominating and *possibly* shutting you up. (Love your blogs man, but I’m tired of the numerous Kunitz criticisms coming from everywhere.)

    • So 3-3-6 in 6 games prior to the Gold Medal game is now considered ‘shit’? Mind you, the team leaders to that point were Toews (0-7-7), Iginla (5-1-6) and Heatley (4-3-7)

      Nice try with the attempted revisionist history though… anything to justify a bad selection of a favorite player, eh?

    • Holy man, am I tired of this argument. Crosby went point/game in 2010 (including scoring THE biggest goal in the tournament) and even when he isn’t scoring, he’s Canada’s most important player.

      When Canada plays USA, who do you think Suter matches up against? How about Slovakia & Chara? Maybe that’s why Toews led the team in scoring? Crosby is playing against the absolute best players Russia/Sweden/&c. have to offer, AND HE STILL PUT UP 1ppg.

  9. I’m prepared for the worst.

    1. Finland
    2. Sweden
    3. Russia
    4. Czech
    5. Canada
    6. USA

    Russia wins when teams learn that the Russian word for honor guard means the same as firing squad.

  10. “…many people would take any combination of of the names I mentioned over Kunitz/Marleau/Carter.”

    This nails it. Great players, but as the first game approaches, I get more and more nervous. Giroux and E.Staal watching from the beach while we put Carter and Kunitz on Sid’s wings? Duchene as a spare? Yikes.

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