Canada, can we stop making excuses?

February 22nd, 2010 by Burgundy Leave a reply »

A friend of mine has recently started getting into hockey. She made two observations about Ryan Miller last night, prior to the big USA-Canada game starting. She said “Ryan’s a hottie and probably the best goalie in the NHL”. I can’t comment on the first observation (although I’ve always felt Miller looks like Jared Leto), however, she’s bang on with the latter part of that quote.

So even a hockey fan who’s very new to the game knows how good Ryan Miller is. Fast forward to around 10pm EST on Sunday night and Canada is collectively saying “our Olympic hockey team was beaten by Ryan Miller”. Seriously, can we stop making excuses? It’s not like Ryan Miller is the only strong goalie in this Olympic tournament.

That was a pretty gutsy game from Team USA last night. In both of their previous games, I felt Team USA had trouble playing as a team and staying in synch with each other. That was not the case against Canada. In fact, Team USA played a far better team game than the Canadians did.

Everyone is crediting the win to Miller and Miller exclusively. While he was outstanding, he wasn’t the only reason USA defeated Canada 5-3. Let’s give credit to the coaching tandem of Ron Wilson and John Tortorella for figuring out how to turn one of Martin Brodeur’s strengths into weaknesses. Let’s give some credit to the US penalty killers like Ryan Callahan and Chris Drury – both of these guys played terrific games. Also, let’s give some credit to the US center’s like Drury, Ryan Kessler and Joe Pavelski. These guys were dominant in the faceoff circle against a team who’s style of play relies on puck possession.

And one of the most critical aspects of the loss last night had little to do with the USA. As I watched last night’s game, I really felt like they needed to be leading after the second period in order to win. Canada really let up in the second period. They didn’t push as hard as they could and should have. I realize it’s easy to say this, however, if they played like they did in the final five minutes all game, they probably would have won. They did in spurts, but not often enough. Canada’s puck retrieval wasn’t terribly strong all game. Canada’s physical game disappeared in the second period and they didn’t move pucks well (everything was too slow and too predictable).

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not taking anything away from Miller’s play. However, the reality is there’s a lot of other reasons Canada lost besides running into a hot goalie. If Canada can get their game together, they can look forward to better results. Every other contending team has great goaltending too. If goaltending is going to be an excuse for last night’s loss, get ready to blame a few more goalies over the coming days. Canada is capable of beating teams with great goalies, but there’s a few things they need to do, besides worrying about who they are shooting on.

Let’s accept last night’s game for what it was – US was the better team. No more goaltending excuses (Miller, Brodeur or anyone else). If Canada wants to win, they’ll need to be better. End of story.

Stay classy, Team Canada.

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6 comments

  1. Sens19 says:

    I mostly agree with you, there were a lot of factors why Canada lost other than Miller (I still think he was the main reason though) but I’m finding it hard to believe that the US were the better team throughout the game and excuse me for saying that but at least 2 of their goals were flukes. We couldnt get half the breaks they were getting.

    In the end though, they need to make their own luck and it’s getting worrisome that everytime they run into an experienced NHL goalie (Hiller, Miller- omg they rhyme!) they’re having trouble. Many are saying that an extra game will help them regroup and refocus but what are they going to do when they face Bryzgalov/Nabokov both of who are hot and really good. And what happened to us having the league’s best record shattering goalie *sighs*. Me getting really worried, this isnt as fun as I thought it would be.

  2. MO says:

    In all fairness most of Brodeur’s mistakes were unforced, he was just bad. At the end of the day the US’s greatest strength was Canada’s greatest weakness.

    Also I dont buy into the “lets not make excuses” argument is as much I think the real problem from team Canada’s fans is needless panic. It sucks loosing to the US but Canada ran into a hot goalie and clearly dominated most of the game, which is a big step up from the swiss game. At the end of the day there are positives to take out of this game. If Canada had pulled this one out of the bag and Loungo had to start cold in the quarterfinals against a real contender I might be more worried then I am now.

  3. GelatinousMutantCoconut says:

    Well, the Sharks line was over-used. babcock kept going to them to tie it, when all of them (excpet maybe Options) should have been benched.

    All of the way I was nervous about Marleau and Thornton making the team, and last night they proved me right. I’ve not given up on them, but last night they were useless.

    I don’t want to get into panic mode, but maybe a few line changes can help ignite some fire. I’m not saying lines are the problem, but the team need something to light a fire under their arses.

    So I would try:

    Staal-Crosby-Nash

    The long-anticiptaed “Young” line. (Get it…Crosby, Staal/Stills, Nash and Young…plus they’re all under 25! )

    Heatley-Getzlaf-Perry

    Heatley is the only member of the Shark line that shows up in big games, has excellent chemistry with Getzlaf, who has struggled, most likely do to injury.

    Toews-Richards-Iginla

    The checking line. Three very similar players, can bring energy, defense and scoring. Should get much more ice-time then the new 4th line

    Marleau-Thornton-Morrow

    Thornton can return to he knows best in international hockey, using his size as a checker. Ditto Marleau and his speed. Morrow brings some girt and passion to this line, which desperately needs it. Hopefully with offensive pressure taken off, this line can be effective in a new limited role.

    Doughty-Weber

    These two have been our best defensemen so far.

    Keith-Seabrook

    Deserve more minutes, to see if their chemistry can translate into success on the international stage.

    Niedermayer-Pronger

    Maybe familiarity can help these two veterans solidify their games.

    Luongo

    And yes, Luongo should be the go-to guy here on out. I wasn’t overly impressed with Brodeur against the Swiss, but he redeemed himself in over-time. He made some spectacular saves last night, but looked lost on most of the goals. Time to let Louie win Gold in front of his home crowd.

    I’m a little torn on who should start against Germany though. It’s a short tournament, so a back-to-back shouldn’t impact Luongo too much over-all, but we want him at his best against the Russians. Do we let Brodeur take on the weak German team, or do we give up on him completely and give Fleury a start? What do you guys think?

  4. GelatinousMutantCoconut says:

    Oh, and is it just me, or does Team Russia’s coach look like ‘Crater Face’ from Grease?

  5. Fantana says:

    I’m not totally convinced the U.S. outplayed Canada. I thought Canada’s play along the boards, particularly in the 2nd period was pretty strong and there were times when the Americans couldn’t contain Canada. I think Canada probably played well enough to win last night but they couldn’t get that go-ahead goal. Miller obviously stole the show and he made a few saves that really kept the Americans in the lead.

    The more I think about it, the more I feel like the Team USA played the game and won the game the way Canada typically does. They won with a gutsy effort, scored when it really mattered and had their goaltender hold them in the game until they could capitalize on a few breaks.

    I think last night’s game is clear evidence that hockey is no longer “Canada’s game”. Based on the 2010 WJC’s and now last night’s game, the least you can say is that the Americans have figured out how to play hockey the way Canada does. And by the time this tournament is over, I think you’ll be able to say that about the Russians too.

  6. Billy says:

    GelatinousMutantCoconut YES HE DOES!!

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