Blog Entry

Showdown is set

Posted on: February 23, 2010 11:25 pm

Granted the gold medal isn’t on the line. Not directly anyway. But it won’t make the heavyweight match everyone wanted to see any less compelling.  Even if it will play out to what amounts to an undercard.

That doesn’t matter. It’s Russia versus Canada. The two most talented teams in the world. And even better, it’s Sidney Crosby against Alex Ovechkin.  A matchmaker’s dream for these Games between hockey’s biggest Stars on its biggest stage. Winners go on, losers go home.

Team Canada set up the quarterfinals matchup and kept is medal hopes alive without really sweating. They probably did enough of that after spending a couple of days feeling the heat from a country in distress after the preliminary round loss to the Americans, but Canada showed no lingering effects from that disheartening episode and annihilated a ridiculously overmatched German team 8-2.

Truth is the game really wasn’t even that close despite the fact that Germany has a half a dozen NHL players on their roster. They are not front-line players and there’s not much talent around them, which forces Germany to play prevent defense from the opening facing and an overall game that relies less on trying to beat teams than hoping they might somehow beat themselves.

That didn’t happen in the preliminary round for the Germans who were shut out twice in their three losses. And it was pretty clear from the outset that it wouldn’t happen against a Canadian team that came out desperate to prove they are not done yet. In essence Team Canada made this game look like a glorified scrimmage, using the first period to figure out ways of breaking through Germany’s fallback positions and then blowing things open in the second and third periods.

Canada’s dominance went far beyond the scoreboard to the shot clock, faceoff circle and overall time spent in the offensive end.  That made it an easy night for goaltender Roberto Luongo, who took over from Martin Brodeur for this one, but didn’t really get a chance to show if he’ll give Canada a better chance to win in a big game. Still, it was probably a pretty good tune-up for Canada because it essentially got a chance to refine the areas it has struggled with in this tournament under game conditions.

Canada didn’t really expect to have much trouble with the Germans, but it didn’t take any chances either. The Canadians played a more basic north-south game, avoiding the tendency to look for fancy plays and  firing shots at every opportunity. That’s something Canada was hesitant to do at times in the opening round, but this time they fired 39 shots on German goalie Thomas Greiss and at least that made that went high or wide.

More important, Canada dominated the boards and got the kind of traffic it in front of the net it will need against the Russians. But its biggest boon may have been finally finding the wingers that fit with Sidney Crosby, who has played with different linemates in every game so far. One of them was Jarome Iginla in the first game, and with the Calgary Flames captain back on the wing and joined this time by Eric Staal on the wings, Crosby’s line produced three goals and three assists and created several good chances.

Still, Canada’s best line was the newly assembled trio of Mike Richards, Jonathan Toews and Brenden Morrow, each captains of their respective teams who were put together to be an energy line. They were tenaciously effective, coming up a goal by Richards, and important creating the kind of pressure that kept Germany bottled up in its own end whenever they were on the ice.

Look for them to come over the boards whenever Ovechkin’s line does for Russia.  And look for a great game too.


Category: NHL

Since: Apr 22, 2008
Posted on: February 24, 2010 9:28 am

Showdown is set

I do think Canada has the better players.
However, it may be tough for some of the guys on that team to be on a 2nd and 3rd line.
IF they do not get the kind of minutes they are used to they struggle.
It happens all the time. I could be wrong but it is just a thought.
I mean there is just no way Team USA should be able to compete when you look at it player vs. player.
Although in my experience anything can and does happen in single elimation hockey.

Since: Oct 11, 2007
Posted on: February 24, 2010 9:11 am

Showdown is set

They only struggled against the Swiss because Hiller Stood on his head and Marty gave up soft goals.  No offense to Evgeni Nabakov, who I think is a decent goalie, but Hiller blows him out of the water.

I dont know, Nabokov (like Luongo) doesnt seem like a "big game" goalie.  How many times has he been out of the first round?  okay, second round, with the talent he has had in San Jose? 

I think this comes down to team depth, which is where Russia's decision to reserve roster spots for KHL players may come back to haunt them.  I think that in pure top end scoring, Russia may have the edge, but not by much,.   In total depth, the ability to role 4 lines and 6 defensemen, its Canada by a country mile, and that may also haunt the Russians.

Ill go Canada 5-3 on an empty net

Since: Jan 18, 2009
Posted on: February 24, 2010 8:43 am

Showdown is set

In this Olympics, Canada is always the home team, no matter who they're playing.  I think with Canada, it's difficult to assemble lines of players that are used to being the primary puck handler on the first line and now have to play different roles on different lines.  But if they worked that out against Germany, then look out.  It's anyone's guess who wins this today...

Since: Jun 16, 2008
Posted on: February 24, 2010 8:32 am

Showdown is set

Really?  Do you think really canada found themselves against Germany?  My Nephews Midget Minor AAA team under 16 would of beat Germany.  And then I canadien fans, be careful what you wish for...I mean the crowd chanting we want Russia..pretty cocky considering you struggled bigtime against the swiss and lost to the Americans..Russia can play with you all up and down the ice, lets see if Luongo can handle Ovechkin and Datysuk!!

Since: Aug 16, 2009
Posted on: February 24, 2010 3:54 am

Someone is not getting a medal

Who knew?  The loser of Canada-Russia goes home without a medal.  If you had told me that last week, I would say, no way!  The pressure is astronomical on these two powerhouses to get into the semis.  OK, so maybe if they were going to meet in the semis one of them could end up losing the bronze medal game, but the two favorites meeting in the quarters?  And no easy task for the winner against Sweden, in all likelihood, in Friday's semi.

Did the Canadians find themselves against Germany, or was that just too much talent against a lesser opponent?  Have they figured out the right line combinations?  This is def going to be a slugfest, no one wants to go home without a medal and, man, the loser is either having a long flight back to Siberia or long sled ride back to Moose Jaw.......

Who's the home team for this game, anyway, is it the higher seed or do they draw for it?

Since: Jul 25, 2008
Posted on: February 23, 2010 11:38 pm

Showdown is set


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