Wednesday, May 02, 2007

2007 IIHF Team Canada World Championships - Just Good Enough

While there are a lot of teams that enter this tournament and simply smoke the weaker competition (the Germanys, Switzerlands, Norways, etc.), Canada has a recent history of playing just well enough to win. Whether it's due to the fact it takes the Canadian players longer to get used to playing with one another (because Canada has such a huge talent pool to draw, the players are almost never the same year to year, while say, Slovakia has the usual suspects every year), or because they're not used to playing on the big ice, or just because the Canadians have a big culture shock in Europe, Canada just seems to find a way to play just well enough to win. The trend has continued this year.

While Canada beat both Germany and Norway, one could argue that both those teams provided a 'scare' to the Canadians. The Norweigens hit the scoreboard first and the two teams were deadlocked at 2 heading into the third. Canada definately had not yet hit their stride.

I thought Canada got off to another poor start in this game, getting hemmed into their own zone, and then taking a penalty which immediately led to a power-play goal by Slovakia. Canada got it's own powerplay and scored only 90 seconds later though, on a blast from the point from Canada secret weapon, Cory Murphy. I estimate that Murphy plays about 9 minutes a game, but the diminutive defenceman is tied for the team lead in points with Rick Nash, and I just think he looks really comfortable and confident out there after some jitters early on in the Germany game.

I thought Canada really took over the game in the second, jumping out to a 3-1, and then 4-2 lead, but uncharacteristicly bad defence from Canada allowed Slovakia to stay in the game. First Eric Brewer got caught trying to skate the puck out of his own end, and he was caught by Marian Hossa who immediately beat Dwayne Roloson to score. Then some sloppy defensive work by the Phaneuf/Hamhuis pairing allowed Marek Uram in on a breakaway which he buried. Leading by 1 in the third, Canada had a massive miscommunication between Roloson and his defenseman which lead to Slovakia tieing the game.

Rick Nash has been described by the play-by-play team of Dave Randorf and Dave Reid as being 'snakebitten' thus far in the tournament, but I would have to say thats an overstatement. Although Nash hasn't converted as many goals as perhaps he could, he has been Canada's single best offensive player by a longshot, and by all accounts, simply looks terrific out on the ice. In Canada's game versus Norway he has 11 shots on net, scoring one goal. Now, as I mentioned before, he is tied for the team lead in points, which goes to show he isn't exactly snake bitten, but I would be willing to admit that his points to chance ratio is not very good.

Anyway, enter today's game and Nash still looks completely on fire. He drives to the net like nobody's business and so far there hasn't been a defenceman thats been even close to handling him. Today he made a simply brilliant move by tipping a puck from the side of the net towards the front of the net and then batting it in for a shot. Nash's shot was saved but Hamhuis grabbed the rebound, and I think that incident is a pretty good illustration of the kind of impact Nash has had on the team. So Slovakia and Canada are tied with about half the third period gone and Canada is on a powerplay. The puck goes out to Cory Murphy on the point, who as usual makes a great play by getting the puck through traffic and on net, but just before Slovakian goalie Halak (Montreal's 3rd/2nd stringer this year) is able to put his glove on it, Nash tips the puck and Canada goes up 5-4 for the final goal of the game.

Canada should have had this game wrapped up in the 2nd period. 4 goals should be more than enough to win a game. But as I said before, Canada usually plays just well enough to win, and that's not necessarily bad, as long as you actually do win.

CP Game Story

Hockey Canada Game Story

Before Turin 2006, there was a firestorm created by Liberal MP Denis Coderre, in which Coderre accused Shane Doan of uttering some sort of slur against French people. By every account, this event did not happen, and Shane Doan sued the crap out of Coderre, and last I recall, he at least got a formal apology letter from the media hungry Coderre.

Now, the 'controvery' has arisen again as Canadian MPs have apparently run out of real problems to solve. Any politician who brings something like this up in parliament and slurs Shane Doan like that is a total disgrace. In this case Jack Layton jumped on the bandwagon rally against Shane Doan, and there was debate in the house as to whether Shane Doan is a worthy Captain Canada.

Look in the mirror Canada, we elected 'em.

'I'm embarrassed that there's all this attention about it,'' Doan said. ''I never said anything so I don't understand why it keeps getting a life of its own.'' (Source)

"It's ridiculous," said NHL vice-president Colin Campbell, who investigated the 2005 incident.

"It's rather embarrassing to all Canadian hockey fans we're rehashing this again, particularly when Hockey Canada and Shane Doan are representing and working hard in Moscow right now, competing for our country."(Source)

"In the heat of the battle things get said sometimes - a lot worse than being called a French frog or whatever," Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said.

"(Doan) says he didn't say it. Even if he did, come on. If our politicians, French or English, if that's the only thing right now they have to worry about ... There's a lot more important things going on right now in society. It is utterly, utterly stupid, not to say embarrassing."(Source)


MetroGnome said...

Cory Murphy has a little Giordano about him, hey?

I think I'm sensing a shift in what the league values in terms of defencemen. Gone are the days of lumbering oafs like Hatcher. I think teams will start giving smart, mobile guys like Boyle, Murphy etc. more respect simply because their skills are far more appropriate to the game and how it's played now.

Kyle said...

I think you're definately partly right, but the fact he's out playing in Europe just goes to show the major players in terms of scouting and selecting talent haven't totally shifted their mindset yet. Seems though they're beginning to realize a sea change is coming.

Athéna Pallas said...

No no no no no no!!!!! i wanted finland 2 win thiz worlod championship ='(((((( Ahm from czech republic n the best would b we 2 win. but finland iz the best!!! U canadian r bigheaded n u need our players (4 exmple jágr, lang, průcha, straka, šlégr, kaberle n so on, n so ono....) only 4 ur NHL! N coz of thiz thing we couldnt win thiz championship. i think u aint so happy when u win but we should b champions!!!!!!
N u could leave the finnish 2 win it....
By the way, visite my website: n

Athéna Pallas said...

there iz mistake:
u could let the finnish win it
and sorry i cant so good english