Gudlevskis

Just seven thoughts today, because I’m pretty sure most people are aware Canada’s win was a one-sided assault on an inferior opponent who got a lot of bounces and great goaltending. Right? Right.

1

Contrary to Glenn Healy’s thoughts, I thought the Canadians showed a lack of respect for Latvia’s goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis.  Healy’s intermission commentary was basically that in the NHL there’s no point in taking shots from far out or a bad angle because they aren’t going to go in, but against a guy who’s just an AHLer you should shoot from anywhere because hey, who knows!?

Gudlevskis 2

Unfortunately, the line between AHL and NHL goaltenders is actually razor thin, and Gudlevskis is a guy Steve Yzerman just drafted in the fifth round to the Tampa Bay Lightning who was named the AHL’s player of the week in January thanks to his 2-0-1, 0.65, .973 performance. At 21 years old he’s played to a 2.69 GAA and .900 save percentage with numbers trending in the right direction. Maybe he’s not Carey Price, but he’s far from a joke.

Mindlessly whipping shots at a legit goalie from all angles is usually a waste of time. Given the talent disparity between skaters (and whoa doggy was there a disparity), I’d have preferred to see Canada wait for better looks than opting to take up Operation Bomb Everything, which they did. They outshot Latvia 57-16. Showing Gudlevskis more respect probably helps them score a few more.

2

Speaking of Gudlevskis, here’s what the Latvian goaltender’s Wikipedia page was edited to say, courtesy @DrewMTips:

gudlevskis-2

Well deserved, young Kristers. Well deserved.

3

Not to be lost in the “great game Kristers” movement is the performance of Carey Price. By the third period Latvia was basically a punch-drunk boxer trying to stay on their feet for one more round, but in the first two periods they actually created a couple legitimate opportunities. And, any goalie will tell you: when you don’t see a ton of shots, it takes a lot of focus to be prepared when Grade A quality ones come your way (which Latvia had – somewhere around eight, actually). Price, minus one puck-handling error (and a breakaway goal against on a nifty Latvian play) was solid, and should start against the US on Friday.

Oh, man, Canada/US is on Friday.

Oh man. *breathes into paper bag*

4patrick marleau

While it doesn’t necessarily mean much against a seriously weaker opponent, I thought Patrick Marleau was Canada’s best forward. He had five shots in 15 minutes of ice, controlled the play in the offensive zone, and seemed to be one of the few Canadians who was helping generate real opportunities, not useless shots.

5

John Tavares is hurt and done for the Olympics, and that sucks. Not just from the position of an Islanders fan, but because he’s the type of guy who can raise his game against the best in the world (not just “can,” he thirsts for it), and I didn’t think he got a chance line-up/minute-wise in the early going. I felt like he’d end up being a difference-maker for Team Canada at some point.

The good(?) news is that there’s no more decisions to be made about who to scratch, so I can stop worrying about Martin St. Louis getting the hook, another guy who I feel will impact a big moment at some point.

6

I didn’t think Sidney Crosby was particularly effective against Latvia. After missing a breakaway attempt and helping set up the struggling Chris Kunitz, I barely noticed him. When everyone was on the “complain about Crosby’s output” wagon prior to the game, I couldn’t have disagreed more. He had been Canada’s best forward, he had created the most chances, and he had been the most consistent. Against Latvia…a single shot in 18 minutes, rarely threatened. The good thing about Crosby is that he’s harder on himself than anyone, and is probably better suited to play a good team than he is some guys who aren’t in his league (literally, mostly).

7

I keep thinking that the hono(u)r of making Team Canada, the thrill of being at the Olympics, and the novelty of playing with such talent must be a bit distracting for players (same goes for other countries, of course) at first. But just like anything, at some point the novelty has to wear off, and you’d expect the more talented teams to fall into some sort of rhythm.

Canada sneaking by Latvia probably wasn’t their goal (okay, not just “probably”), but I’m certainly not willing to say that because the US has won games by larger margins they’re favored against the Canadians on Friday. In fact, if the US is actually favored and you’re a gambler, I’d consider tossing some money at it (though it won’t realistically happen). The Canucks biggest job will be containing the Kessel-Pavelski-JVR line. Beyond that, Canada still has that group out-matched.

I expect it to be a hell of a game, but I also expect to see the Canadians play their best game of the tourney.

***

Bonus thought: Marc-Edouard Vlasic wasn’t that great and Dan Hamhuis played just over five minutes Wednesday. Do we see P.K. Subban against the US?

Comments (20)

  1. Great analysis, totally agree with the Crosby points. Now can we please see P.K. Subban out there. Thanks.

  2. These Olympics are showing that a team that is “ruthlessly unselfish” (aka Finland) can beat a team with a handful of marquis stars (aka Russia). But I never expected a team that is 3 lines deep with stars (aka CAN) to struggle. And there’s that whole meme about “who leads when you have 6 captains on a team” and “no, YOU take it, you are better than me” …. it sounds stupid, but maybe there’s such a thing as too much talent all in one place (at least if you only have a short time to gel).

  3. If this is the puckhandling error you’re referring to ( http://imgur.com/a/xAmS6 ), then it’s as much on Pietrangelo as anyone else for letting up where he did. I’ve actually been pretty unimpressed with his play these Olympics, him and Bouwmeester were basically at fault on the breakaway today and he’s made a few of the kind of gaffes people complain about PK Subban for, but somehow excuse from someone else.

    • I don’t really see how thats on Pietrangelo. It’s obvious what is happening. The puck is coming to Price, the latvian player’s job is to get to the puck and try and create a turnover. Pietrangelo can only do one thing here, give his tender someone to pass to by creating some separation and heading near the corner. Price sees him, he just doesn’t get a good pass through. If Pietrangelo comes any closer to Price than he already was, then the Latvian player can pressure Price, then simply turn around and have pressure on Pietrangelo as he’s receiving the pass.

      Price made a bad pass there. It happens.

  4. Regarding the first point; not that this is a great strategy, but regardless of the quality, so many shots made Gudlevskis TIIIIIIRED. Prior to the game winning goal Gudlevskis was so tired from stopping 50+ shots, that he basically had to take a nap. I’m kinda with Healy on this one. Can’t score? Just keep shooting if you can put them on net. Something has to give.

    Can’t believe I just agreed with Glen Healy. Yuck.

    • Except making him tired didn’t really do anything beneficial. The second goal wasn’t really a fatigue goal as much as it was hammered and he had no chance to get across.

      • The principle still holds: a tired goalie can’t react quite as fast on those second-chances, and it might well be a factor when you’re talking about split-seconds and hair’s breadths being the difference between a huge save and a huge goal.

        Though I also find that just having to stay in your crouch and move around and peek through traffic and deal with the jostling is tiring as well. Shots are best, but trapping the other team in their own end for two or three minutes at a stretch wears at the goalie too.

    • Is this a real conversation you guys are having? Perhaps the goalie would be too tired to stop pucks at the end of the game?

    • I don’t know if tiring a goalie out is any kind of real strategy but as has been said elsewhere, if you played that game 10 times, Canada probably scores 5 goals in 5 or 6 of those games. Certainly they could be better strategically against teams that are going to play 5-man all out defense in the crease, but in a normal game at least a couple of the rebounds, deflections, and blocked shots find Canadian sticks in front of the net. It was pretty incredible (and full marks to the Latvians for tying up their man) to see how many times loose pucks in dangerous areas got cleared instead of being buried in the net.

  5. I think you could start a 1 point blog every day with the term “Contrary to Glenn Healy’s thoughts, “

  6. 7 thoughts, and not one about the defence. You are not paying attention to the most-important-to-date part of team Canada, even though you just posted as article saying it was Russia’s Edmonton Oiler defence and not a 40+ Teemu that lost them the biggest game of their lives.

    Stop focusing on Crosby just because others in the media talk about him and you want to add your 2 cents.

    INVISIBLE would be an improvement for Jay Boywmeester. He is HURTING the team. We can’t afford his mistakes. Hamhuus is steadier and has a greater offensive contribution per minute played. Subban hasn’t even had a chance to make any impact. This is the easiest coaching to make around the team. Benching JayBo for a period doesn’t help, he has lost his spot after being given 2nd chance after 2nd chance.

    If Keith is fine without Seabrook, why should we be afraid of breaking this pairing? Pietrangelo looks better on shifts without JayBo.

    This is infuriating, I don’t know how Bouwmeester’s entire tournament isn’t the only story about Team Canada. I know you’re a forward at heart, and they are the super stars but 7 or of 13 goals are from the defence, the key to our possession game and responsible for the lowest goals against of any country except for Switzerland (they’ve allowed 1 in 3, Canada allowed 2 in 3)

  7. How’s this for bragging rights…Gudlevskis made a save on every Team Canada player except Price, (and obviously Subban and Duchesne). That’s probably never been done in a single game.

  8. I don’t know what to think after all this but…

    The US has looked more impressive but I think they’ve faced a lower quality of competition so far—the Russians were their toughest game and it took a skills competition to get past them (and then the Russians were booted by the Fins.) The Slovenians were a cinderella, the Slovaks were a bust, and the Czechs were an enigma due to the capricious nature of the way the team was selected.

    Canada on the other hand is not gelling on in the offense, and seem to have had a hard time adapting to the larger ice and the relentless trapping employed by the European teams.

    From what I saw of the Latvian game, Getzlaf and Perry looked pretty bad, and the whole set of forwards seemed out of sync. So many passes either don’t connect or are basically desperation passes made by puck carriers who have run out of space.

    So I think it’s a toss-up—both teams are going to bring a similar North American style game, which should suit Canada better, and you’ve got the guys on this team that have got the job done in the past and should know how to bear down and do it again.

    At the same time, the US is on fire, and there’s Kessel. So who knows?

    • “The US has looked more impressive but I think they’ve faced a lower quality of competition so far”

      A lower quality of competition than Austria, Norway and Latvia? That’s… new.

  9. I know we’re just getting started with the playoff rounds, but if I keep hearing how amazing and exciting and terrific Olympic hockey is compared to the NHL, I might pull a Marty McSorley on someone. I love watching Canada dominate other teams (not necessarily on the scoreboard obviously) as much as the next canuck, but the hockey has not been that compelling. Even the 0H-MY-GOD-OSHIE-SHOT-SIX-TIMES-IN-A-SHOOTOUT game was super defensive. The four on four overtime was the best part of that one. And probably the most exciting stretch of any Canadian game I’ve seen so far was also the ot against Finland.
    Give me NHL playoff hockey over these severely mismatched Olympic games any day. Phew, really needed to get that off my chest. Thanks guys.

  10. ” I thought Patrick Marleau was Canada’s best forward”

    Well of course he was. (says the unbiased Sharks fan)

  11. So before the tournament, I bet on both Finland and USA to make the gold medal game. Needless to say, I’ll be rather ‘on edge’ tomorrow (especially if Finland win the early game)

  12. the most frustrating thing about the Latvian game was when Canada decided to play dump-and-chase hockey on the power play in the second period. All that talent and they can’t figure out how to enter the zone on international ice. That coaching staff needs to look at itself for the issues the team had yesterday

  13. Honestly, I’m going to have Chris Kunitz buy me a goddam lottery ticket. He has horseshoes up his ass to be this useless and still playing on the top line with Crosby. Say Canada, you know who would have been really useful instead of that plug and the many others held without a goal thus far… Claude Giroux. Bet he would have popped a few in by now, good thing we have Syd’s buddy Kunitz,and St. Louis because, boy are they ever lighting up the score sheet. I will add that I agree Subban should be given a shot in the top 6, but understand that not tinkering with our strong point is also a way of looking at that.

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