I wasn’t surprised that the Swiss team played Team Canada hard last night in their 3-2 shootout loss. I was surprised though that Team Canada had a tough time against them.
Not that anyone expected Team Canada to walk all over the Swiss like they did against Norway on Tuesday, but likewise, I don’t think anyone expected the game to have to be decided by an extended shootout.
Like every other Canadian, I breathed a huge sigh of relief after Sidney Crosby scored on his second shootout attempt and Martin Brodeur stopped the Swiss’ fourth shooter. In a way, the win avenged Team Canada’s loss against the Swiss in Torino in 2006. And winning the game means that they could still win the group and get the bye to the quarter finals as long as they beat Team USA on Sunday. But losing the point – in this tournament, a regulation win counts for 3 points and OT and SO wins only count for 2 – means they could be seeded lower and face tougher opponents on the way to gold.
But that’s looking too far ahead.
For now, Mike Babcock and crew need to work on their execution and focus on Sunday’s game. There’s no reason that this group couldn’t have moved the puck up effectively against a defense which featured Mark Streit, Luca Sbisa and Yannick Weber. There’s no reason for their powerplay to only score once in seven PP opportunities. And the Americans are a much better team.
The good news is, they fully realize this:
“Good thing I have two days to figure all that out,” Babcock said with a smile. “I think the big thing is when you look at our whole group, we didn’t think we were as good as we are capable of being at all (against Switzerland). We didn’t think our D moved the puck like we could. We didn’t think we were a good five-man unit. We didn’t think we attacked their net and were relentless like we could have. We thought we got outworked at times. When you go through the whole thing, all of us have to be better.”
Damn right they have to be.