Sunday, May 06, 2007

2007 Team Canada IIHF World Championships - Eric Staal is Alive and Kicking

Historically speaking, Canada has had a lot of trouble with the Czech Republic over the past 10-15 years. I think I heard Randorf say that Canada's record is 4-11 against the Czech Republic over that span, and I think if you only examined World Championship games, Canada would be 0-for. Therefore, it came as no particular surprise to me that Canada was down 3-2 with just over 10 minutes left to play in the third. What was a surprise is that going into the game, the Czechs still needed a point to guarantee admission into the medal rounds. If they lost this game in regulation, then they would have to await the outcome of the Germany-Belarus matchup, while a win, tie or OT loss would give them the needed point.

In fact, in many ways, Canada was lucky to still be in the game, going down 1-0, then 2-1, and finally, 3-2. Canada's first goal, scored by Jason Chimera, was on a really wacky play in which every player on the ice, except for Chimera, let up on the play due to a blown whistle. Unfortunately for the Czech team, the whistle was blown in the crowd, and before anyone knew what was happening, Chimera had it buried behind Roman Cechmanek.

Canada was really outplayed for two or so of the three periods, but I think a turning point arrived when Jason Williams was taken off the top line and replaced by Jordan Staal, creating a Cammaleri, E. Staal, J. Staal line. On their very first shift Eric Staal took a pass from Cammaleri to go in alone against Cechmanek, who he beat with an absolutely beautiful deke. Although the Czechs got the go ahead goal about three minutes later, the tone of the game changed.

All of a sudden, Canada seemed to gain momentum. The Toews-Armstrong-Williams line came alive for the first time in the tournament, the McClement-Mayers-Chimera line continued to press, the Cammaleri-Staal-Staal line looked great, and Doan-Lombardi-Nash continued to be the best. Canada got the tying goal and a lost offensive zone faceoff, when Doan stole the puck and fired it from the hash marks, fooling Cechmanek.

The last 10 minutes of the game was all Team Canada. Shift after shift the Czechs had absolutely no answer for the cycle. Canada had a PP for the last two minutes of the game, but the Czechs held it and got their needed point.

OT was a very short affair. Right off the draw, Rick Nash grabbed the puck and tapdanced over two stunned Czech defenders. Meanwhile, the Czechs elected to pull Cechmanek and place Marek Pinc in net for OT. Pinc makes the initial save on Nash's attempt, but a Czech defenceman takes a delayed penalty for the hook on Nash, and Cory Murphy, in a beautiful display of composure, scoops up the puck near the hash marks and brings it back to the blueline and then to Brewer. Brewer slaps the puck on net, and Eric Staal, coming off the bench, bangs home the rebound. The entire process took 22 seconds, unfortunately, it was 23 seconds too late to eliminate the Czechs. I couldn't help but think that this was another example of Canada doing just enough to win, but again, hard to complain about the win.

Hockey Canada Box Score

Roloson got the start, but I think it had less to do with Roloson playing well than it did with Ward playing very average. In my opinion, neither goalie has been stellar, and unfortunately it looks like both goalies are playing themselves out of a number 1 position, rather than either playing themselves into that position. Roloson might have grabbed the edge with his performance today though. Although he had 3 goals against, all 3 were PP goals, and given the pressure the Czechs' had, Roloson did a very good job by keeping Canada within one goal the whole game. There was a key point in the game, near the end of the second where it looked like Rostislav Olesz scored on a wraparound. Roloson, for his part, either kept the puck out, or kept the cameras from seeing whether the puck went in, or both. The goal was put under video review and ruled a no goal, keeping Canada within reach of the victory in the third.

One more game for Canada in the qualifying round, against Team USA, and then off to the quarterfinals.


Before I comment again about NHL disciplinary inconsistency, remind me of the IIHF. Shea Weber gets 3 games for a clothesline type head hit. Alexander Ovechkin steps out of the penalty box and levels someone with a similar hit and gets a 1 game suspension.

Russian player in a Russian hosted tournament. Figure it out Cuje.


MetroGnome said...

Russian player in a Russian hosted tournament. Figure it out Cuje.


walkinvisible said...

Canada has had a lot of trouble with the Czech Republic over the past 10-15 years

you mean 10-14 years, right ? RIGHT ???!

Kyle said...

MG: Once in a while...

WI: 1993? Am I missing something? ha ha

walkinvisible said...

Rangers players raised their sticks as a salut to the fans. Beauty!

i am a HUGE fan of this tradition --which, no doubt began with the rangers' influx of european players . in euro, after EACH intra-league game, there is a raising of the sticks to the crowd; obviously at the team's home rink, but to their cheering section (visiting fans are segregated) in away games as well.

Kyle said...

I have a lot of repsect for guys that remember who really puts them out on the ice. It was especially classy and heartfelt to see it after they were eliminated.

walkinvisible said...

the rangers have been doing it after every home game for a couple of years, so when the fans at MSG all stuck around standing and cheering after the post-game handshake, it was kindof a no brainer. :)

also part of the reason i think the rangers are the team of the future...