Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mike Boone of Habs Inside/Out,
Unless Canada is about to string together four Ws, there are going to be a lot of questions asked about this team’s personnel.
Are Pronger and Scott Niedermayer better than Mike Green?
Are Jarone Iginla and Corey Perry better than Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos?
Is Ryan Getzlaf better than Brad Richards?
Is Joe Thornton the worst money player in the history of hockey?
Qualification Playoffs on Tuesday, February 23:
Switzerland (8) vs. Belarus (9), 3:00 pm ET, Canada Hockey Place (winner plays USA on Wednesday)
Canada (6) vs. Germany (11), 7:30 pm ET, Canada Hockey Place (winner plays Russia on Wednesday)
Czech Republic (5) vs. Latvia (12), 10:00 pm ET, UBC Thunderbird Arena (winner plays Sweden on Wednesday)
Slovakia (7) vs. Norway (10), Midnight ET, Canada Hockey Place (winner plays Sweden on Wednesday)
from Craig Custance of The Sporting News,
The young Americans are doing it exactly the way Burke anticipated when he built the team. Everybody knows his role, and everyone is filling it perfectly.
Chris Drury and Ryan Callahan are providing energy and have been strong on the penalty kill. Ryan Malone and David Backes are throwing their big bodies around and being a nuisance to opposing goalies. Martin Brodeur was irritated enough to take a swipe at Backes for what he thought was goalie interference, and the Americans scored on a distracted Brodeur a moment later.
At some point, scorers like Paul Stastny and Parise will start producing as well. They’re too good not to.
But now comes the pressure and we’ve learned how that can change everything in this tournament. The Canadians are still dealing with the mountain of expectations that accompanied them to Vancouver. When Jonas Hiller and Switzerland took on mighty Canada and the United States, they were outstanding. Against Norway? Not so outstanding—perhaps because they were expected to win.
via Chip Alexander of Canes Now,
Despite a 3-0 loss to Sweden on Sunday, Finland earned one of the byes into the Olympic tournament quarterfinals in Vancouver. But the Finns will play without defenseman Joni Pitkanen, according to The Associated Press.
The Canes’ Pitkanen was ejected with a game-misconduct penalty late in the second period for checking Patric Hornqvist in the head. The AP reported that International Ice Hockey Federation spokesman Szymon Szemberg said Pitkanen had been suspended and would not play Wednesday in the quarterfinals.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Against the U.S., however, Crosby and Brodeur both had games that won’t make it into their home highlight reels, leaving Canada with all kinds of tricky questions heading into the Germany match.
That’s Olympic hockey. Heroes one day, heels the next.
Still, Canada has one ironclad supporter – a surprising one.
“Canada, I personally believe, is the best team, with Russia right behind them,” U.S. head coach Ron Wilson said in his post-game assessment.
What Wilson pointed out, you see, was that Canada “probably out-chanced us two to one” and that it was a classic case of Miller stealing a win that earned the Americans first place in their pool and a very helpful extra day’s rest.
Canadians from coast to coast might be blaming Babcock for his coaching, Brodeur for his goaltending and various Canadian players for their performances, but the fact was that the Americans won a game in the style that Canada used to use repeatedly in international circumstances, riding red-hot goaltending to wins it had no business recording.
more on Team Canada…
from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,
The team that came into this Olympic tournament relishing its role as the underdog has now become the hunted.
The United States, which is threatening to run away with the overall medal count in the Olympics, enters the meat of the hockey tournament as the No. 1 seed, thanks to its 3-0-0 record and the brilliant goaltending of Ryan Miller.
And for that, the Americans have become legitimate contenders for the gold medal. That’s because en route to the final, defending Olympic champion Sweden, defending world champion Russia and pre-tournament favorite Canada all find themselves in the same bracket. The Americans, meanwhile, have only the Czechs and Finland among the world hockey powers on their side.
He’s just a real solid player that does his job. He’s not the guy you talk about.”
-Team Canada Coach Mike Babock on Team USA defenseman Brian Rafalski. More on Rafalski from John Dellapina at NHL.com.
from William Houston of Truth & Rumours,
The forwards: Canada controlled the puck in the U.S. zone for long periods of time and, like any good Canadian team, they could cycle forever. But they couldn’t finish. Is it too early to ask what Corey Perry, Mike Richards and Patrice Bergeron are doing on this team?
The defense: Widely praised as a major strength when the roster was announced, it hasn’t been. Chris Pronger and Dan Boyle can’t compete at this level. Scott Niedermayer is too far along on the downside of his career to be a major player. The only hope is to go with the young guys, Shea Weber, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith and Drew Doughty. Cut back on Niedermayer’s time, don’t play Pronger or Boyle, and hope for the best.
read on for the coach and the goaltending…
added 1:07am, from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail at CTVOlympics,
In the glass-half-full version of events, Canada did many things well. They swarmed the net around U.S. goaltender Ryan Miller, who held a decisive edge over his Canadian counterpart, Martin Brodeur. They held their own in the speed department against an American team that had been trumpeting its edge there.
Physically, they punished the U.S. team, with Rick Nash leading the way in dishing out major open-ice hits.
The only problem was that their work in the face-off circle wasn’t good - the Americans were better by a two-to-one margin in the first two periods; and the goals - so hard to come by four years ago in Turin - seem to be a struggle again.
from Craig Custance of The Sporting News,
Martin Brodeur might have played his last game of the Olympics.
After Team Canada’s 5-3 loss to the Americans, coach Mike Babcock refused to say who will start when the team resumes play in the quarterfinal qualification round on Tuesday. But Brodeur was outplayed by his American counterpart, Ryan Miller, and backup Roberto Luongo has to be seriously considered as Canada’s starting goalie moving forward.
Babcock said he wants to let the emotions settle before he makes a decision.
“I’ll watch the game here tonight. Then I’ll make my decision and go from there. Tonight was a night we’d like to have been better in that area,” Babcock said. “But we’ll look at it and make that decision.”
Puck drops just after 11:55pm ET on MSNBC and CTV.
Trust me, you may want to stay up for this game. Get the late for work or school excuses ready.
Also, have to feel for the people in Finland, Sweden and all of Europe. It is very early Monday morning for those dedicated hockey fans.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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