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.