Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Team Canada World Hockey Championships 2008 - Entertainment

With those beauty 76' heritage jerseys on, you knew it was going to be a barnburner, but the ending resembled the end of game 3 against the Soviets in 87' more than Sittler's game winner against the Czechs in 76'.

Team USA had the unfortunate opportunity to test whether Heatley Nash and Getzlaf actually had chemistry or it was artificially created chemistry through poor opposition.

Turns out the trio appear to be able to get it done against real opposition as well.

Dany Heatley scored with 10 seconds left in the first period as well as 47 seconds left in the third to bury Team USA 5-4.

It came down to the wire, but it really shouldn't have had to. Team Canada jumped up to a 3-0 lead only 18 seconds into the 2nd, but allowed Team USA to crawl back into the game twice. First Jay Bouwmeester loses Zach Parise in front of Canada's net, and then a sloppy defensive change Canada allows Patrick O'Sullivan in on a breakaway. Both Team USA players, to note, were on that underdog 2004 World Junior team that beat Canada for the gold.

Derek Roy scored early in the 3rd to give Canada another 2 goal advantage, but Pierre Maguire called it in his pregame when he said Team USA's tournament best PP would be a factor. After Team Canada neatly killing off a trifecta of penalties in the first period, the American PP was huge in the third, scoring on two consecutive PPs to tie the game. Heatley looked like a goat on the tieing goal when he took a really unnecessary roughing penalty.

From then on it was a lot of back and forth, and Jason Chimera had probably the absolute best chance of the period, firing the puck high on a glorious open net opportunity, but in a scene that I personally found a little bit reminiscent of Lemieux's famous goal in 1987 in game 3 of the Canada Cup, Getzlaf, Nash and Heatley, along with Jovonovski rushed the puck up the ice and Heatley fired Nash's one timer pass through Craig Anderson to give the Canadians the win.

It's hard to identify the matchup game Torterella was trying to play against the Nash/Heatley/Getzlaf line. Judging purely by ice time, here is how Tortorella sees his defenceman:

Paul Martin - 22:31
Matt Greene - 17:51
Timothy Gleason - 15:37
Mark Stuart - 15:08
Tom Gilbert - 14:41
Keith Ballard - 12:38
James Wisniewski - 5:58

Note that this represents total ice time and is not broken into special teams or even strength.

Given that Nash/Heatley/Getzlaf all played about 15 minutes it isn't obvious who was assigned to who, and it's hard to judge if that line was scoring when it's assigned coverage was on, or when they were off. For instance, here is the lineup for Team USA on Heatley's first: 2 12 77 83 88 Here is the lineup on for Heatley's second: 5 17 22 23 29.

Where is timeonice.com when you need it?

Team USA for their part, had no problem identifying their top player: Zach Parise. He played 20:43, had a goal and assist and 5 shots on net. He was heavily counted upon in the third with 8:30 in ice time. I think for better or worse USA hockey is saying Parise is going to be the face of Team USA for some time.

The biggest question for me coming out of this win is whether Canada's victory was because they took Team USA too lightly, because Team USA is just that good, because Canada let up, or because in this tournament Canada is often just good enough. I just hope Canada does not believe they will win this tournament because of some notion of birthright.


Anonymous said...

Can I ask what happened to Halpern?

The news articles are not very imformative. Who hit him or what happened?>

therealdeal said...

He was hip checked by Brett Burns as (if memory serves) Rick Nash backchecked him. It wasn't a dirty play by any means it was just really awkward looking as Halpern appeared to have his knee caught in the middle.

I can't find any updated info right now but if I do I'll post it up.

therealdeal said...

Halpern update:

"The United States lost the services of forward Jeff Halpern for the remainder of the IIHF World Championship.

Halpern, the American team's captain, suffered a badly torn ACL in the third period of Tuesday's 5-4 loss to Canada and will need reconstructive surgery.

Team USA will insert New York Rangers centre Brandon Dubinsky into the lineup in place of Halpern.

Also, the American squad will be adding Colorado Avalanche defenceman Jordan Leopold to their lineup."

Bruce said...

Nice game report, TRD. Where are you getting your game stats, TOI, etc.?

I saw the winning goal the same as you, very reminiscent of Gretzky to Lemieux to top shelf in 1987. This one was a 4-on-2 instead of a 3-on-1 but it started on a defensive zone draw, a quick breakout, and a nice pass and finish. Both started from the left dot and went down the left side, with Canada going left-to-right on the TV view. Team Canada '87 wore those same white half maple leaf sweaters in that decisive Game Three.

This game wasn't near as important, though it's always nice to beat the damn Yankees, raising our all-time record against them to 37-3. Took it in regulation too, thus garnering the full three (!) points. As usual the IIHF is about a decade ahead of the NHL in its rules.

I thought Canada had an excellent first period, were skating and hitting, then forgot to do both as the game wore on. This is a standard problem for any Team Canada, which is always a lot tougher team in the second week of a tournament than the first. I am confident things will come together, it's a dynamite roster. Kudos to the young Americans for giving us a hell of a game, but if we meet them again down the road I like our chances.

Nice to get a wake-up call and still win.

Angus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
therealdeal said...

Hey Bruce, thanks for the compliment. I'm getting all my stats from here.

They have lots of team stats, but individual game stats are hidden just below.