Crosby scores2

1

The surprising thing about Canada’s defense of their gold medal was how clean it was. En route to the Stanley Cup you usually mix in a few poor games, you fall behind at some point, you get outplayed for awhile. Canada’s only sketchy moment was not beating Latvia by more – the final wasn’t all that close. Canada played like assassins methodically and systematically destroying targets without remorse. Target acquired, target eliminated, what’s next?

2

It sucks that Sweden wasn’t able to dress their best team. While it’s fun for Canadians to win (well, if you’re Canadian), they played a Swedish team without Henrik Sedin, Henrik Zetterberg, and surprisingly, Nick Backstrom (more on the Backstrom absence here…weird situation). Those are three elite players that could’ve greatly altered the course of the game.

3

I know “Canada likes hockey” isn’t the most compelling thought, but the city of Toronto was absolute mayhem. I’ve only been here for 16 months after leaving Phoenix, but it’s silly. My wife and I lined up at 5:50 for the seven a.m. game, waiting in a line of roughly 100 people, and had this pic of us taken before puck drop.

dew game2

And after that, it got busy. The bar down the street had velvet ropes and a bouncer, everyone was in jerseys…hockey’s just an obsession up here.

4

Patrice Bergeron and Sidney Crosby were so good it was borderline comical. Watching Bergeron think hockey is one of my favorite things in the sport – he’s aggressive on the forecheck, relentlessly hounds the puck, and makes good, safe decisions after acquisition with a rarely-seen consistency. And while his talents are rare, Crosby might be even better. The puck just always goes to the right place, like he’s playing the game in slow-mo with an aerial view.

5

It was fun to see Marty St. Louis get some real ice time and be as effective as he was. His one-timer off a laser Rick Nash pass had a chance at going in, but aside from that he was just around the net all day. I would’ve liked to have seen him given a bigger chance earlier in the tournament, but it was just great to see him validate his selection at all.

6

The scariest thing about that Canadian team was in the third period when the Swedes, down two, took the leash off their offensive players (particularly D-man Erik Karlsson)…and they got nothing. I mean, really, in the last two games for Canada, Price has been asked to be good in the first, and be average after that because of Canada’s ability to keep the puck in the offensive zone. I thought for sure Sweden would generate some nerve-wracking moments late, but like the US, they even got rolled when score effects should be taking place.

7

After Sidney Crosby scored his breakaway goal (which was nice to see, given how well he played all tournament despite minimal results), the second period ended and Sid took an extra second on the bench as the guys filed to the dressing room. The team’s other leader, Jonathan Toews, gave him a punch in the shoulder to get his attention to say good job, but words weren’t really needed. The solemn, silent “we got this” head nod that followed was great.

As Mike Babcock said about Sid – he’s a man of moments, and he created another one today.

8

I don’t entirely get what other countries are doing with their ice time distribution (looking at you, Czech Republic) – how Sweden only gives Oliver Ekman-Larsson 7:19 against Canada blows my mind. This guy is one of the best defensemen in the NHL (a pretty good league), yet he can’t log time over guys like Ericsson or Oduya? If I’m a GM with a coach who has some petty issue that stops him from using our best talent, he’s gone.

9

So, Nick Backstrom apparently took some Claritin and therefore “tested positive for banned substances” and couldn’t play in the gold medal game. Claritin. Is Claritin really propelling Backstrom into a class of his own? We can’t let a guy with allergies play? Even if he was taking the medication to make himself better, that’s where we draw the line considering all the stuff guys take? I guess you have to be ultra-careful in the Olympics and he’s somewhat at fault, but man…what a terrible break.

10

In conclusion, Canada’s dominance in Sochi came from their ability to possess the puck. (Well, that and their d-corps being unreal – Weber and Doughty tied for the team lead in points.) They forced goaltenders to make save after save, but if you get enough chances, you’ll score a few goals. I wrote in my preview that it would be tough to reverse a lead against Canada because of their commitment to defensive responsibility, and (for once) I was right. Babcock had the guys fully bought in to a system of short shifts and smart play. The could’ve won games 10-7 and left it up to chance, but the coaches chose not to. Instead, they were smothering on the forecheck, impossible to contain, and just generally ruthless. Canada did what they had to do in every game. The goal wasn’t to impress, it was to win, and they did so convincingly.

Comments (30)

  1. I could be wrong, but I think the issue with some allergy meds (and other banned substances that clearly don’t give you a leg up) is that they can be used to mask actual performance enhancers? As I said, could be wrong, but I know there are some things banned because they can mask, rather than enhance on their own.

  2. From what I’ve read, it was Zyrtec-D. The D is for decongestant, or pseudophed. This isn’t some obscure medicine, but something that is commonly known to be banned. This is completely on the Swedes. The first thing that they should have told their players is don’t take ANYTHING without talking to us.

    • This isn’t on the Swedes. Backstrom listed on the paperwork for his medical tests that he was taking this. The IIHF even went to bat for him because the amount in his system wasn’t that far off the maximum the IOC, but the IOC told them to step off even though they let someone in Vancouver slide with a warning for a similar infraction.

      • And that is ignoring the strange timing of it all, administering the test Wednesday, allowing him to play Friday and then stopping him on Sunday, so close to gametime that they can’t appeal or re-test in time?

  3. Yeah, the Washington Post is reporting that the Swedish team doctor knew about and approved Backstrom taking allergy meds, so it doesn’t sound like it’s really his fault. It’s not banned in the NHL, so won’t affect his eligibility to play for the Caps.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capitals-insider/wp/2014/02/23/reports-nicklas-backstrom-sits-out-gold-medal-game-with-migraine/

    • The info at that link was helpful. The only thing that strikes me as odd is that they say he’s been taking Zyrtec-D for seven years, so I guess it must not have been a problem at the Vancouver games? Did the IOC or IIHF re-classify it in the last four years?

      • If it’s anything like the Summer Olympics, they drug test all medallists and then a random selection of other participants; he may have been taking it in Vancouver but never got tested because Sweden weren’t in the final and he wasn’t one of the random selections.

      • It has to do with the amount in his system. It’s not a “banned” substance, but a controlled one. He’s been taking it for years, but always been under the threshold when tested. This time he took too much, and failed.

        • Yeah, Backstrom’s pseudoephedrine level was at 190 ug/ml, exceeding the 150 ug/ml limit. Here’s a blog post from a highly allergic cyclist that talks about how although the regulatory authorities try to set reasonable limits based on daily dosages, when you take something every day, as Backstrom apparently does, it can build up somewhat and be a little over the limit, as it was here. So although one pill a day (or whatever) might be ok, but after several days in a row, you test unexpectedly high, even though a few hours later you might be ok. I have not found a reliable source for how much Zyrtec-D = 190 ug/ml, but I’ll take the blogger’s word here that the 150 ug/ml limit is based on normal dosages.

          http://peteridesbikes.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-nick-backstrom-positive.html

          • Thanks for the answers, everyone. Between those answers, it’s starting to make more sense to me.

  4. The sitting of OEL was completely boggling. He played so well for the first 4 games then he was sat. The owner of the Coyotes even started a #FreeOEL during the game (which was hilarious) but you sit a Grade A D-Man… and this is what happens.

    I’m a Coyotes fan so I was excited for the Karlsson/Ekman-Larsson Pairing. Which looked amazing for the first games.

    Sorry Sweden but that might have been a reason today happened. (That and the Canadians woke up and played amazingly well)

    • Yeah, it’s hard to say how much of a difference playing OEL would have made (and bringing and playing Hedman, as long as we are second guessing), given how good Canada was. Sweden’s roster decisions for defense were pretty strange.

      • Completely Bizare.

        We can all play the what-if games with any team and their roster. But this is just boggling.

  5. While I agree it would have been a lot nicer to see Sweden and other teams (FInland) ice a complete roster without unfortunate injuries, it should be noted that Canada was also missing some top-end talent in Stamkos and Tavares, if we’re playing the what-if injury game, how many more goals would Canada have scored in this tournament with a healthy Stamkos?

    • I think that every single country in the tournament was missing some top talent, however Canada’s enormous depth of talent was clearly a huge advantage. No other country out there, including the U.S., Russia and Sweden, would have been able to lose a top player in Stamkos and have the luxury to choose between relevant All Stars like St. Louis, Giroux, Staal, as replacements. Regardless, having the talent and getting them to perform in such a short period of time are 2 different things. Great job by the GM and the coaches!

    • The what-if injury game sounds fun. My bet is that Finland would’ve made the final if Rask had played against Sweden.

  6. No one else wrote it, so I will:

    11. Chris Kunitz scoring the last goal. A classic “How do you like me now?” moment.

    IMO: Kunitz’s name should also be included in #4, Mr. Bourne.

    • Yea totally Chris Kunitz is as good as Crosby and Bergeron totally

    • lol, he doesn’t belong in same sentence as Patrice and Sid; were we watching the same games?

      • lol -A magnificently large number of NHL players don’t belong in the same sentence as Sidney Crosby.
        Bergeron has amazing hockey sense and was able to dovetail his profound skills with Crosby, especially on the defensive side of things. Bergeron’s defensive offerings on that line gave Crosby the time to do what he does. Kunitz is pretty darn good at reacting to what Crosby does on the ice (chemistry). That chemistry seemed to work out in the gold medal game. Two of the three members on that line scored. That would be Crosby and Kunitz. That’s what I saw when I watched the game (along with Toews scoring the first goal).

        • That chemistry really helped out on those unassisted goals. I’m happy for Kunitz, though – he’s a good player, and it’s not his fault that it should have been Giroux on that line instead of him. Take advantage of your opportunities when you get them.

          • Agreed with BinB. It’s no shame not being one of the 25 best hockey players in your entire country, especially the country that invented the darned sport. Saying Kunitz shouldn’t be at the Olympics instead of Giroux isn’t like saying that Kunitz is terrible and shouldn’t be in the NHL. He’s just only excellent instead of insanely freakishly awesome.

  7. Thanks for the top 10 moments through out the games Justin. I enjoyed that format. You might want to consider it going forward especially in the early part of the playoffs.

  8. I would love to see a Player Ratings for all of the Canadian players. Thoughts on doing this, Bourne?

  9. What impresses me is that I get the sense this was written at the bar. Any truth to that JT?

  10. When does that picture get made into a Canada Post stamp?

  11. I freely admit rooting for the States against Canada due to the knuckleheaded and completely unjustifiable treatment of Subban. I hope he ends up with a huge contract in a major media market such as NY or LA, or plays for the Sharks. The Habs have treated him like dog doo.

  12. Speaking to point #2, while it certainly hindered Sweden’s ability to compete, it’s important to note that Canada was missing three top level centers of their own, due to injuries to Stamkos and Tavares, and their exclusion of Claude Giroux.

    Which really speaks to Canada’s incredible depth up front more than anything.

  13. Canada is dominate through and through, I thought the U.S.A. had a great chance:(

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