Feb 192014
 
Jean Levac/PostMedia News

Jean Levac/PostMedia News

I’m still shaking as I write this. Dear Hockey Gods we almost lost to Latvia. LATVIA?!

  • Major props goes to the Latvian goalie Kristers Gudlevskis. Insane play. Insane effort. Insane heart.
  • @MaltbyMVP tweeted “This isn’t Canada sucking. This is Latvia playing their heart out. You’re an idiot if you think otherwise.” And he’s 100% right. 57 shots on goal is Canada playing well. 54 blocked shots and saves is Latvia and their goalie doing everything possible to pull off a miracle. And 1 shot attempt not hitting the net was just Latvia cheating and the Refs missing it. No other way to look at one of their players, not the goalie, swiping the puck out of the crease as it starts to trickle past the line. But that just put Karma in a Team Canada jersey so in the end, it worked in our favor.
  • Hey Luongo Homers, are you finally going to give Carey Price some credit? I am not a Price fan. I am not a Luongo fan. To be honest, I thought that after game 2 Luongo should have been the one to keep getting the starts. But Babcock thought otherwise and Babcock knows what he’s doing. Today proved it. Price kept us in this. If you can’t give him that then you’re truly letting emotion (for Luongo) override hockey smarts and common sense. Now should Price start against America? I guess so if only because the US’s strongest weapon right now might be Phil Kessel and Price has faced him more. But that said, Lu beat the US team once… barely, but it was an important win.  To be honest I don’t have 100% confidence in either Lu or Price in against the USA. Do you? If so, which one and why?
  • Paging the Top Forwards in the World! Please proceed to the net – and put the puck in it!  We absolutely have to start finding a way to score more. Like I said, this almost-loss wasn’t that we weren’t trying. But I personally feel we haven’t scored enough in any of our wins except Austria. We need to see goals from Perry, Toews, St. Louis and Crosby. And more from Getzlaf and Carter. And have Weber and Doughty keep doing what they’re doing. Then and probably only then are we going to be able to beat the USA in regulation. It seems like a lot of “If Onlys” but hello, these are truly the best forwards in the world. If they can’t do it (all at once) who can? And it’s now or never Team Canada. Truly. No exaggeration. It is now or never.

So do you have a prediction for USA-Canada? What do you think the score will be? Tell us!

And where are you watching? This Canadian has taken Friday off work and will be screaming/cheering her lungs out from her West Hollywood apartment. How about you?

Feb 162014
 

Drew Doughty scored 3 goals in his last 28 games for the Los Angeles Kings. He’s had 3 goals in 3 games for Team Canada. Clearly he was conserving his abilities for the Olympics and as a Canadian, I’m okay with that. But I’m pretty sure the popping sound I’m hearing around LA today is Kings’ fans heads exploding.

Subban should be dropped in and Vlasic pulled out. Or Bouwmeester. I am not a PK Subban fan. I wasn’t even sure I wanted him on Team Canada because his attitude and his preference to play a bit dirty and arrogant isn’t an Olympic asset. But he was tight and controlled in his one game and played smart. He was noticeable in a good way unlike Bouwmeester and Vlasic today. Bouwmeester was unnoticeable and Vlasic was noticed for ridiculousness and sloppiness.

So now it’s the Swiss, who we had to beat in a shootout last time so no one better think this is an easy ride. The easier ride would have been if we won in regulation. However maybe we’ll face Latvia. I count no one out because it’s the Olympic and crazy things can happen.

Also, since we’re on the topic of the Swiss, you know who won that shootout in 2010? Sidney Crosby. For those who forgot, he did do more than that very last goal of the games. I feel the need to bring this up because the “Sid sucks’ tweets have already begun. There is no Country in the world that doesn’t know he’s the best in the world so, as Finland did so well, they are all going to make a point of shutting him down. And we should be ok with that because while they’re concentrating on Sid we have Toews, Doughty, Carter, Tavares and every other second and third and fourth best player in the world to score instead of Crosby. Remember that.

I heard on twitter (so it must be true and I’m too lazy to Google it) no undefeated team has ever won gold. Every men’s hockey gold medal has been won by a team that has lost a game along the way. Does that worry you? The way I see it is, That said, if a Country is going to buck a hockey trend, what better Country to do it than Canada?

Who sits the next one? I say it’s got be Vlasic and Kunitz.

Who is in net? I don’t care either way because Price and Luongo are both playing solid but I will say this. I think we need to start solidifying stuff and the goalie is where we should start.

Tell us your thoughts on who gets the net, who gets scratched and what we need to do to be the first team to go undefeated and win gold?

Feb 142014
 
Getty images

Getty images

A shutout and the first Team Canada natural hat trick since 1956. And a Nation breathes a sigh of relief. This is more like it.

  • Roberto Luongo saw as much action in the first 5 minutes as Carey Price saw in his whole game. And he handled it better. I have nothing against Price. I know he’s a great goalie.  I’d even be okay with the argument Price is a better NHL goalie. But Luongo is an amazing Olympic goalie. 2010 proved it and this shutout game keeps proving it.  So if the Canucks ever make it to another serious Stanley Cup playoff run can we put the Olympic decorations back up in Rogers and pretend it’s an Olympic run? Maybe he’ll do better that way.
  • I don’t know if this ‘Bring a Buddy’ selection process was worth it. At this point it doesn’t seem to be. Patrick Sharp was sitting this one out and Jonathan Toews did just fine without him. Chris Kunitz hasn’t made much of an impact.  He’s not scoring off The Kid and Crosby is making plays without him just fine. So far it hasn’t hurt us but it hasn’t helped us either. So much for that established chemistry people said these guys would have.
  • I am a HUGE Jeff Carter fan. I make no apologies for that. I’ve been going to Kings games consistently for a year now. Carter’s got great defensive skills and can find the net from any angle. He’s also one of the best skaters I’ve seen. Really good especially considering his size (6’4, 198 pounds in case you don’t know). I was shocked so many people thought he was the wrong choice for this team. Today he proved me right. If you’re still on the fence about him being on this team you legit suck.  End of story.
  • Did you notice Subban much? Me neither. That’s a good thing. In the NHL he gets a little too much attention for bad plays and ego trips. Glad to see he can reign it in and be a team player.
  • My heart-melting moment: Carter getting the puck for Luongo and Lu telling him to keep it for himself. God, I love a good Bromance moment, especially on Valentine’s Day!
  • So who starts in net against Finland? Do you think Carter and Marleau have earned their spots now? Do you put Sharp back in? Do you keep Kunitz in? Subban?

Tell us your thoughts!

Feb 132014
 
Getty Images

Getty Images

We came, we conquered! Well… maybe that’s an overstatement. ‘We came, we won’ is more fitting.

  • We had a rough first period. Canada had 7 off-side calls. Clearly the boys hadn’t gelled yet. More concerning was the abysmal first powerplay. It was so bad I thought I was watching the Canucks for a second. You had to be a bit concerned, even if it was almost expected. After all these guys haven’t had a lot of time together yet. Babcock’s furrowed brow on the bench wasn’t helping my nerves either. That said, although we beat Norway in 2010 by a score of 8-0, Canada did not score in that first period either.
  • There was some good in the first period. Jeff Carter kept Norway from their best scoring chance with some awesome stick work. I have to make note of this because so many people didn’t want him on Team Canada. I like to rub noses in stuff, sue me.
  • The second period felt a little more cohesive. And we got to see the deadly weapon we forgot we had – Shea Weber’s slapshot. No, it didn’t rip through the net this time but it wasn’t from lack of effort. Weber’s shot is so fast you can’t even see the puck.
  • Not only did we get on the board in the second, but we had one of those HOW DID THAT NOT GO IN moments in front of Norway’s net and the much hated post shot. There’s something comforting in seeing that kind of effort from Team Canada even if it didn’t result in more goals. They were getting their legs and starting to gel. Always a good thing.
  • Jamie Benn’s goal, putting Team Canada up 2-0, felt like the flood gates opening, but yet they never fully opened.
  • And there were Norway chances, their best coming with 27 seconds left in the period. Luckily, it also resulted in Carey Price’s best save of the game. The score remained at 2-0 as the second period ended.
  • The third period had a shaky start with Price misplaying the puck and resulting in a Norway goal. The Olympics like to create new and different hockey rules, like the one where if your helmet comes off you have to go directly to the bench or take a penalty. They should implement the rule where the goalie can’t play to puck. Why? Because Canadian goalies are horrible at playing the puck. Price and Luongo both suck at it. But it’s not just about us, I’ve watched Quick (as an LA King) cost himself a goal too. So come on IOC, if you won’t do it for us, do it for America.
  • It was a little weird but mostly sad to see the Norway player get injured and then, while trying to leave the ice, get slammed by the referee. What an NHL thing to do, Ref. After the player literally crawled to the bench, the ref did go over and apologize to the team. What an un-NHL thing to do, Ref.
  • Doughty’s goal, the final nail in Norway’s proverbial coffin, was, in my opinion, a much owed apology goal because Doughty had made some mistakes throughout this game.
  • Is it just me or was the game a little rougher than anticipated? Sidney Crosby got shoved around and Chris Kuntiz got into it. For such a match-up with a non-traditional rival, it seemed a bit much.
  • In the end, although I think the game should have been easier, it was still a win and I’ll take that any way I can get it. Also I have to remind myself that maybe not repeating the ride and road we took to the 2010 Gold isnt a bad thing. Yeah it ended with the right color medal but the path was rocky in huge, over-dramatic ways that cause Ativan addictions. Kind of slow, mostly steady and relatively drama-free wouldn’t a bad way to win Gold either.
  • Looking ahead, I’m glad Roberto Luongo is going to get a chance in net. Price’s performance wasn’t strong enough (like Quick’s for the US earlier) to make trying another goalie a crazy idea. Also, I think Weber needs as much ice time as possible and so does Carter. I wouldn’t mind seeing Kunitz sit a little more. So who stood out for you on Team Canada? Who should get more ice time and who should get less? Let us hear it!
Mar 012010
 

With the Olympics and a whopping 80% of the country watching at least part of yesterday’s gold medal game it’s going to be a bit of a culture shock going back to watching games like Tuesday’s Leafs/Hurricanes match-up, but it was one hell of a two weeks. One thing I heard at the end of yesterday’s matchup is that although Canada won the game the real winner was the sport of hockey. I can’t agree more with this, but not because of the gold medal game only.

One thing that stuck out in my mind was that this was the first international hockey tournament I’ve seen in which every team was competitive. With the exception of the 8-0 Canada win over Norway, and Finland’s collapse in the first 10 minutes of their semi-final game against the US losing 6-1, there wasn’t a single blowout in the mens bracket. Teams like Latvia, Belarus, and even the Germans were competitive in every game. The fact that Latvia got two (very good) goals past Nabakov is huge in my mind. What about Belarus playing the defending Olympic Champion Swedes, being down 3-1 in the 3rd, bringing it within 3-2 and then ringing one off the post moments after their second goal nearly tying the game. There was also the Latvians who down 2-0 in the 3rd period of their qualifier who completed a 3rd period comeback only to fall just short in OT.

There were a handful of moments at this Olympics which demonstrated just how far the sport has come internationally. One last such example was Norway who almost beat a Swiss team that the game before had taken Canada to a shootout. Norway a team made up of KHLers, SELers and other European league players with only one NHL player to their roster. They lost to the Swiss 5-4. Belarus also almost made it out of their qualifier game and in what was probably the biggest upset of the tournament, the Slovaks beat the Russians in a shootout capped by the Canucks own Pavol Demitra.

After watching two weeks of some of the best hockey we’ll ever get to see in this city one thing’s for sure, the sport we love to watch is becoming more competitive which only spells good things for the future. It’s only a matter of time before we see other teams entering the mix. Japan has a hockey league that saw Claude Lemieux’s presence for a number of years before he returned to the Sharks for one last stint. Heck, we all know if the Chinese want to be good at something they will find a way to be. The presence of China’s womens hockey team at this Olympics in my mind means it’s only a matter of time before the sport becomes even more global than it already is.

The reigning champion Swedes lost in what is now a changing of the guard for Sweden as it was likely the last Olympics for a number of Swedish greats like Lidstrom and Forsberg. It also saw the Slovaks tie their best finish in an Olympics ever. While this sport is Canada’s game, and while we still get over the Olympic hangover and the first gold rush in BC in over 100 years, the rest of the world wants to play and I for one love it!

Feb 272010
 

I love Brian Burke, he’s a character and I would have him back as GM of my Canucks any day but I’m getting sick of him perpetuating this “underdog” nonsense. This isn’t 1980. For those that don’t know In 1980 the Americans were a bunch of amateur and collegiate players that beat the Russians and ended up winning the gold medal at those Olympics in their next game against Finland. That game against the Soviets was named the “Miracle On Ice”.

Now I know Burke is notorious for two things: great quotes, and mind games. This whole Olympics he has perpetuated this label that the Americans are some sort of under dog and what’s frustrating is how everyone just eats it up. Has anyone taken the time to look at their squad? In hindsight it’s a very smart move by him. It eases the pressure on the team, and gets them emotionally into the game if they buy into it. The interesting thing though was the overwhelming response by the media and writers who in some cases reacted like the American win over Canada was on par with the second coming of Jesus. The reactions that I saw about beating Canada at “Canada’s Game” just blew my mind.

The Americans while not having as deep a pool of talent to select from as Canada, have put together a team that’s on par with Canada’s in almost every facet. The Americans have an all-star cast of their own that have donned the red white and blue and the notion that they are some vast under dog is just absurd. Belarus in an elimination game, Latvia, Germany, those are under dog teams. A team that boasts Ryan Miller, Phil Kessel, Chris Drury, Patrick Kane and Zach Parise amongst others is not some sort of under dog.

When the USA and Canada face off on Sunday in a rematch of the Salt Lake City gold medal game one thing’s for sure – we are going to be witness to the best hockey game played in North America, ever. May the best team win and if that does turn out to be Canada, I hope Brian Burke’s underdog label makes Team USA feel better about second place. This is Canada’s game and to quote Swiss alpine Olympian Didier Couche “second is the first loser”.

Feb 262010
 

If you’ve even had a glance at highlights of Men’s Olympic Hockey, you’ve probably developed an opinion on how the tournament has gone so far.

Some of you were likely concerned – whether it was a tough first period against Norway, a scare against Switzerland where it took a shootout to win, and then a near complete FAIL in losing to the US. In fact, you probably felt that a Hockey Congress needed to be convened to figure out what ailed the sport in Canada.

Then there were others that pointed out that Team Canada is like fine wine, that it gets better with age and simply needed time to breath. You preached faith and devotion, knowing that at some point in time Canada would open up a can of whoop-what-what and take a few names.

And then there is me – the guy who thinks it comes down to Grant Fuhr, goaltending, and whether or not we could get that “one” save.

For those of you not old enough to remember the halcyon days of the 1980s Edmonton Oilers, they were a young team that had quite a bit of firepower in an age where the team that actually scored the most goals won – key word, goals. Although Gretzky, Kurri, Messier, Anderson and others put up the points, there were a number of other teams in the league who had players that could do the same thing. So what was it that gave the Oil success? Goaltending.

Now we’re not talking about the goaltending we’re used to today. We’re talking about the flop around, pad stacker, red-light variety. So how does this come into play? Well, the Oilers had a guy by the name of Grant Fuhr who could make that one “great” save which allowed the team in front of him to maintain pressure and momentum. True the final score might be 6-5 or 5-3, but by making that one “great” save, he gave his team a chance to win.

So how does this have anything to do with Team Canada you ask?

If there were one consistent issue for debate, it’s been the position between the pipes. The rightly celebrated Martin Brodeur was anointed the number one keeper by the start of the tournament and relieved Roberto Luongo of his duties after the first game against Norway. But things didn’t go too smoothly for Marty. First there was some suspect goaltending in regulation against Switzerland where he couldn’t provide that “great” save until the shootout – where he stopped all three to redeem himself. And then there was that shocker against the US where he had trouble determining that baseball is not a demonstration sport in the 2010 Winter Games and again, couldn’t provide that “great” save when called upon. So after some deliberation, the decision was made to have Louie head back to the blue paint.

And the team took off.

Now I agree that a win against Germany isn’t something we should run to the streets to cheer about, but what about that slobberknocker against Russia? Here you had a Canadian team taking it to the opposition without having to expend even more energy playing catch-up because they had a guy who could provide that one “great” save. Roberto wasn’t perfect in either game, but he gave the team some belief that when it counted, he’d come up big. Case in point was the Malkin breakaway – Louie made that one “great” save.

It’s obviously Louie’s time to shine for the remainder of the Olympic Games and how he goes, the team will go. But if anything has been discovered is that with the firepower that Canada possesses, all the team will need is someone who practices the Grant Fuhr method to Goaltending.

And provide that one extra save, one “great” save.

Feb 182010
 

One thing Canada’s always been on the fortunate side of has been the blow out games. After the womens team beat Slovakia 18-0, the debate on whether or not there should be a mercy rule was brought up again. We watch the womens team dominate most countries except the US, we spent our Christmas and New Years watching the Canadian World Junior team slaughter teams, and even in the mens opener against Norway, Canada stomped them 8-0. So that raises the question, do we need a mercy rule?

What is winning a game by 18 goals doing? I for one, am a proponent that no matter what the score, if you’re up by one goal or up by six goals you shouldn’t let up the offense. I’m all for running up the score in an NHL game because in NHL games there are different things at stake. It’s not a regular occurence in the NHL and it’s welcome and exciting when it happens. But when you watch the Canadian juniors romp 16-0 over the Latvians, or the Canadian women put up 18 over the Slovaks there’s little exciting about that. The irony is that the Slovaks, to qualify for the Olympics, beat the Bulgarians 82-0. That’s not just excessive, that’s completely unnecessary.

When approaching this question, people have to look at it from the perspective of the sport as a whole. Teams like Bulgaria, Belarus, China, Latvia, etc. don’t come into the games with hopes of a medal. Their expectations are slightly different and so their measure of progress is developmental. Their goal as a team is to bring knowledge of the sport to their country through playing at that elite level. When a Canadian kid watches Team Canada beat the USA he thinks “One day I want to make Team Canada” and it starts there. I guarantee that a kid from Bulgaria doesn’t think “When I grow up, I want to lose 81-0 instead of 82-0″. They’re most likely planning on avoiding the sport all together at that rate.

When you look at hockey as a fan of the sport, there is no good that comes from shelling a team that badly. At an international level the tie breaker has to be a result of head to head play, not goal differential. There’s no good that comes from Canada, or any team winning by such a substantial margin. When a team is down, or up by such a large margin the game loses its’ competitive nature. International matches are meant to be about competition to showcase skill, not a method of embarrassment.

Feb 182010
 

Today we get to see Brodeur play for Canada against the Switzerland after Luongo got the nod for Canada versus Norway. I understand trying to see which goalie does better, and I understand giving them both some ice time, but at the end of the day I think it’s going to be Brodeur who’s going to backstop Canada the whole way.

Brodeur has the ability to play behind the net and eliminate any team’s forcheck, something Luongo lacks at best. A lot of the players on some of the more dangerous teams, in my mind, come from the East. Brodeur sees them all the time and he’s probably more likely to stop them. That being said, almost no one can stop Ovechkin. And thirdly, Brodeur comes to play in big games, and as much as I try to avoid bashing Luongo, the bottom line is he’s not a big game player. The “Luus” were great to hear at GM Place or as it’s known for the Olympics, Canada Hockey Place, but Luongo’s going to get many more turns to back stop this nation and right now Brodeur is the man of the hour.

Speaking of “Luus” I also came across this pretty wicked shirt which you can get from Pucking Hilarious. It’s a play on the Canucks logo, and I liked it! You know when the Canucks decide to do another jersey change (aren’t we due for another sometime soon?) I’ll throw my vote for this logo. They’ve got limited quantities and their order deadline is coming up soon! Check ‘em out, I know I have my shirt ordered and it’s some neat one-of-a-kind Canucks gear to add to your fan gear collection! If you want to follow them on Twitter, they’re @puckingfunny. Luuu Tshirt

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