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Team Canada’s ferocious wounded pride


 

That was quite simply one of the most remarkable nights in the history of Canadian hockey. We have never beaten the Russians that badly—not for 50 years, at any rate.

That’s as much a statement about Russian timidity and disorganization as it is about Canadian verve and aggressiveness: the Russians looked jittery from the start, particularly on defence, as the big, marauding Canadian forwards ran right over them. Russia’s defencemen left man after man unmarked, and the Canadians made them pay for it with slickly timed passes to the goalmouth.

Going into this tournament, I had thought the strength of the Canadian team was their defence, and certainly Shea Weber and Duncan Keith have emerged as stars of the team. But it’s the Canadian forwards that have proven to be the power on this team. Between them, they have scored nearly 6 goals a game. And, unlike the Russians, they have shown some balance on the attack: five of Canada’s seven goals tonight were scored by their third and fourth lines. Russia has relied throughout almost entirely on its big guns—Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk, Semin, Datsyuk—and an impressive battery they generally are. But shut them down—Datsyuk has been invisible, Ovechkin hot and cold—and there’s little left.

But that still doesn’t explain this extraordinary shellacking. I think psychology does. That was an angry, determined Canadian team we saw, their pride still smarting from the near-disaster vs Switzerland and the defeat at the hands of the Americans. They took it out on the poor Germans last night, but it was clear that wasn’t going to satisfy them. The Russians walked into a buzzsaw from the opening whistle, and it plainly unnerved them.

But: will this massive win take the edge off? Will they be as sharp, as ferocious the next time?


 
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Team Canada’s ferocious wounded pride

  1. Who's next for the buzzsaw???

  2. "Will they be as sharp, as ferocious the next time?"

    You bet. There's blood in the water now. These boys are going for the gold.

    • I think it's fair to say I called this one.

  3. Slovakia is next.

    Who's after next?

  4. There's some politics embedded somewhere in this post, I just know it.
    Just kidding, of course. I couldn't watch the game but I'm glad Team Canada didn't lose their nerve after the American game.

  5. It's kind of hard to say any line is the third or fourth on Team Canada… when Rick Nash and arguably the best player in the tournament right now (Toews – leading in assists, +/- and tied for points) are on the "fourth" line, numbering them seems silly.

    But they've got energy, chemistry and momentum moving forward, so things look good. They're also facing an opponent tailor-made for them next in the Slovaks – only one real scoring line has been carrying the team, so if they get shut down, they're in tough. It won't be easy, they've been feisty all tournament, but things are certainly looking up! Go Canada go!

    • Dan Boyle's +/- for last night must have been through the roof with a goal and two assists.

    • Agreed! Toews is playing awesome……………so how in the hell does the San Jose line get so much Powerplay time??? Babcock must go! What a moron giving away Nash's Penalty Shot to an under performing Crosby!

  6. The only real differnece between Canada's play in that game and the Swiss/USA games was that the pucks went in.

    • I agree but that's a really big difference.

      • My point is more that Coyne's post is 100% nonsense. Like virtually all the hockey punditry out there, ignoring reality to advance a narrative.

        • What reality is he ignoring? I thought Coyne was understated.

          • It's not about being over- or understated. It's about the fact that Canada played very similar games against the Swiss, Americans, Germans and Russians but that it was only the goalies in the last two games who let in a bunch of pucks.

            Hiller/Miller were good, Nabokov and Greiss were not, and we should all be glad Bykov took so long before switching to Bryzgalov, who stopped 18 of 19 shots to close out the game.

          • "It's about the fact that Canada played very similar games against the Swiss, Americans, Germans and Russians but that it was only the goalies in the last two games who let in a bunch of pucks."

            I don't agree. Canadians were much livelier last night. And maybe the goalies let in more goals because they were facing better shots once Canadians focused a bit after being spanked by Americans.

          • So, Evgeni Nabokov's .793 SV% had everything to do with wounded Canadian pride and liveliness, while Ryan Miller's .933 SV% was because the Canadians weren't focussed?

            The single biggest difference in these two games were the goalies in the opposite net.

          • And that Broduer was directly responsible for 2 if not 3 of the goals scored against him in that game. Had Broduer even had an average game the Canadians would have likely have won.

            But the Canadians did play a different game last night. More physical, moved their feet more, no cruising, fewer giveways and more drive to the net. Miller was very good, but Canada's offensive game wasnt in top gear.

            SLovaks are a dangerous but beatable opponent. And the Finns may very well beat the US and then Canada has to face a hot goalie they havent seen this tourney.

          • I agree the goaltending was an important difference, but I think you're grossly simplifying by saying or implying that that was the only difference. Just to take the USA game: a huge difference from the USA game and this one was that Canada beat itself in the USA game in a big way. Yes, we had an advantage in territorial play and shots in the USA game, but we made several key bone-headed plays that resulted in American goals. Brodeur's two boneheaded plays directly resulted in goals. Two of the American goals were the result of pucks going in off of Canadian players. And Cory Perry's play against Kessler was also boneheaded and resulted directly in a goal. Also in the USA game, Canada did not really go to the net the way we did against the Russians.

          • I think there was a very specific "begin the game with lots and lots of hits" policy in place last evening. which seemed to work.

          • Works every time with the Europeans! Even Sweden wanted no part of the Canadians after what they saw against the Russians, so they promptly lost to Slovakia! LOL!

          • I think the difference they held the puck and got too precious with the finesse moves in the previous games. For instance, in the US game Getzlaf got the puck all alone 5 feet in front of the net and managed to undertake a move so complicated that it didn't include actually shooting the puck (a reprise of his non-shot shootout from the Swiss game).

          • I also felt that our skating has got progressively better with each game. But i agree with AC, last night we saw the real Canadian game, lots of controlled passion…long as they keep it controlled we'll be fine. Better goaltending and confidence helps of course. Wonder if the difficulty the yankies had with the Swiss dented their confidence at all…i didn't catch the game…hope so.

          • Keeping it controlled vs the Slovak's will be important. Their Power Play is quite potent.

  7. I wonder if there is an age divide for people and how they think of the Russians. I am old enough to remember the Russians as USSR and I was muttering last night about commies and who would be paying a visit to Lubyanka after last night's poor performance.

    • LOL,

      I'm in the same boat as you, but keep in mind, someone born the year the Berlin Wall came down is 21 years old today. If you've never even lived during a time that Berlin was divided by a huge wall with armed guards I don't think you can have the same perspective on Russia/Canada as someone who can remember the bad old days from personal experience.

      • I watched a bit of the game with my seven year old nephew and he got me thinking of how long ago Berlin Wall fell and how generations going forward are not going to have same feelings towards Russians as people who grew up knowing them as USSR.

        • (sigh) I am old enough to consciously remember the 1972. The Cold War aspect was huge. If you want to get a good sense of it, I recommend Harry Sinden's first-person account of that series in his book Hockey Showdown. Especially the part where they get to Moscow to play the final four games. All kinds of weird, KGB-related shenanigans went on. Plus it really was like visiting a different planet back then, much more so than now.

    • I was born in 1985, so I obviously don't have much memory of the last few years of the Cold War. But I certainly feel differently about the Russians than say, the US, when it comes to hockey. I'm not sure I can put my finger on it, but the closest I can come to explaining it is that I feel the Russians are a worthy adversary, whereas the Americans are like a cocky sibling. I don't want us to lose to either one of them, but for different reasons.

      Maybe some of that is a feature of our post-Cold War attitude toward the Russians, but it's definitely not a product of living through the "Good ol' days" of hockey. Like I say, not quite sure how to explain it.

      • Thanks for response. I always expect Russians to do well because they are as fanatical about hockey as we are.

  8. A great piece but of course we had to have the negativity at the end of the column which made it a downer.
    Can we not just accept the fact that the Canadians had a great game last night and showed the Russians what hockey was all about.
    As for the future what will be will be Andrew.

    • Yeah well Coyne is a former National Post type. As I recall, right after the gold in Salt Lake City the Post's headline was "United States Strong in Silver Medal Victory!"

    • Wow! He finished with a question, lose points for thinking. That wont get him a senate seat…or…

  9. Read this last night….

    Bryzgalov on Canada's start: "They came like gorillas out of a cage."

    • Very determined gorillas, thank you very much.

  10. I think the key distinction is intensity.

    I don't think the Canadians played very well against the Swiss, and didn't really start playing the US until the game was 56 minutes old. The last 4 minutes of that game, the Canadian team actually looked like they wanted it.

    For the game against Russia, it is clear they came out with a level of intensity that was sorely lacking in the previous games.

    If they bring this level of intensity to the next two games, no-one will beat them.

  11. I thought a big factor that came out, and alluded to by Coyne, was depth. You ask any knowledgable hockey analyst from any of the other major hockey-playing countries what our comparative advantage is and that is what they will say: depth. As has been pointed out, we could easily have fielded two teams in this tournament, each of which would have been legitimate gold-medal contenders. No other hockey nation can do that. No other hockey nation could even come close. Hell, we could probably even field a third team that would be competitive. That is what is awesome about this team, the fact that no matter who is on the ice, that player is an absolute top-shelf player who is a legitimate scoring threat. When we are firing on all cylinders, as we were last night, we are awesome.

  12. Man I'm tired of the Olympics. What's happened to the real news? I'm pretty sure there are more important things going on in this country than an overblown hockey tournament. We should relegate the Olympics to a single-weekend event funded by bottle drives.

  13. It was a good game with Russia because of the intensity and determined grit! Hockey at this level should not be dictated by politics, if a player is or isn't playing well, play him or bench him! The players pride or name should have no credence! I would have pulled Brodeur and tried Louongo in the USA game after his mistakes! Which forwards and D's were carring Canada in the Russion game? They have something to prove! Lets get rid of the Old Garde if they can't deliver! Lets hope they have that same intensity & grit and the above coaching techniques needed to bring home Gold! We are pulling for you guys!!

  14. Let's cut the guff, all you're doing is putting in words. In my vocabulary the majority rules.

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