Coming into tonight's game against the Germans, there was little doubt that Canada wouldn't come out flying. I said after the USA game that they would come out like they had something to prove. They'd play hard, play well, and keep up the pressure. And they did exactly that.
Right off the bat Canada was outshooting the Germans 9-0. If there was any doubt of a shattered confidence it wasn't showing.
In the USA game everyone was trying to do too much. They were trying to pass and shoot bouncing pucks which ultimately led to turnovers and a loss. Tonight was a different story. Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger got much less ice time and it worked. They were both much more composed and making smart plays. Niedermayer even scoring a nice goal on a semi-breakaway wrist shot in the 3rd period. There wasn't any one story in the game, more a collection of short stories. Let's start with Drew Doughty.
Only 20 years old yet one of the best players on the Team Canada squad. He was throwing around the body, making smart puck handling decisions and nice passes. He IS going to be a great player for Team Canada for a long long time. Anyone who questioned his being on the team is keeping silent after the play he's shown.
Story #2 would have to be the absolute bullet of a shot from Shea Weber. Never in my life have I seen a puck go THROUGH the mesh. There was no hole, it didn't break the mesh, it somehow just went through it.
Story 3 of course is the controversial penalty shot. This will be talked about for a long time I'm sure. Rick Nash was in alone and hooked, prompting a penalty shot. Now in international hockey the shooter can be replaced. And in this instance Mike Babcock decided to have Crosby take the shot. If this were the NHL I would agree with having Sid take it, but it's Rick Nash, he is a goal scorer and knows what to do with the puck. Had Crosby scored then nobody would be questioning the move, but he didn't, so it's a hot topic now. Nash has been struggling all tournament long and was yet to score, this penalty shot could have given him the jump start he needed. Fortunately the score was already 4-0 so it wasn't a big loss that the shot was missed, but it was a good chance to get an offensive threat moving. At the end of the game Nash was able to net a goal and let's hope the monkey stays off the back and he can get it going against the Russians as well.
You can't talk about this game without mentioning Luongo who gets story #4. He knows the rink. He plays here 50% of the NHL season and knows the ice and how the boards bounce. And he showed that he CAN handle the #1 job for Team Canada. Granted the Germans are a powerhouse of scoring ability, but they did give Lou a bit of a tough night. They did manage 23 shots, and many were good scoring chances, however they were only able to muster 2 goals. The 1st one a beautiful wrap around that there was no chance at stopping. The 2nd goal was late in the 3rd with a 2-0 break where he made the initial stop but the rebound was swatted out of mid-air and into the net. At that point though there was no catching the 8 goals already put up by the Canadians.
Finally story #5 is the "Science Project" as Pierre McGuire called it. The Eric Staal, Sidney Crosby, Jerome Iginla line. Now Iginla played great against Norway with Sid, netting a hat-trick, and it was only a matter of time before Babcock put them back together. And it looks like Eric Staal was the final piece to the puzzle. Tonight Iginla had 2 goals, Crosby had 1 goal, and Staal had 3 assists. If this line can stay at the level they played tonight, then the Russians will have some trouble tomorrow.
And speaking of tomorrows game against the Russians...OH MY. It's going to be an intense game to say the least. The 2 teams with the most talent clashing in such an important game is just plain huge. Canada CANNOT play like they did against the USA. IF they come out flat you can expect Russia to just destroy Canada...however, if Canada comes out playing like they did tonight we could jump out to an early 2 goal lead. The players on team Canada know the implications that this game will have, and I don't see them coming out flat. They will come out with speed and aggression and try to control the puck as long as possible. But who knows how long either team will control. Both teams have the ability to just run the opponents D into the ground...fortunately for Canada, we have a stronger defensive group. It's going to be VERY close game by the time it ends but I'm pulling for a Canada 5-4 win.
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