What a game. Even in a losing effort by Canada, a hockey fan can appreciate that kind of display. While the Americans came out of the gates with a lot more gusto than Canada did, and made them pay early, I thought Canada responded well from the middle of the 1st period-on. They just couldn't solve Ryan Miller on enough occasions. It was both amazing and bewildering to watch. 42 saves on 45 shots by Miller. Many of those stops were outstanding. Many of them you wished Canada would shoot top shelf (or just a bit higher) on the guy to beat him but didn't.
Unreal. If you missed it, you missed out on what hockey is all about: physicality, end-to-end action combined with structured defensive play, lights-out goaltending, grit, determination, etc. A hockey classic it was.
Canada never held a lead in this one. You can thank Miller for that, plus you can thank his mates' play in front of him, somewhat. The U.S. mean business. Brian Rafalski may be the oldest guy on Team USA, but he was the 2nd best player. 2 goals and 1 assist for him. Chris Drury may be a sieve on the Rangers but not on Team USA. He generated a lot of chances but was also a force in his own end...as was Ryan Kesler. Kesler sealed the deal on this game with one of the best empty net goals I've seen. He must be on cloud 9 right now.
The U.S. has that certain something as a team that the Canadians do not. Call it chemistry, faith in eachother, structure, kick ass goaltending....or maybe all of the above. Something is missing from the Canadian team. Killer instinct? Lack of discipline? Lack of finish? Lack of execution especially on the power play? Lack of quality goaltending? All of the above.
Speaking of goaltending..Martin Brodeur comes under fire now for not playing stellar at all. He was "over-playing" pucks on 3 of the U.S. goals, whether it was batting the puck out of the air and not out of the zone, playing the puck to an opposing player behind his net, or aggressively poking a loose puck to an opposing player for the winning goal. So now the big question that will dominate the Canadian media is: "Who starts the next game against the Germans?" You can voice your opinion in the poll. Brodeur is a world class goalie who can absolutely stymie opponents after a bad game. On the other hand, Roberto Luongo is licking his chops right now and waiting to solidify his spot as Canada's starting goaltender RIGHT NOW.
I say go with Luongo against Germany and if he plays a monstrous game then keep on playing him. Hell, he is playing in his home rink after all. He was solid against the Norwegians even though Canada dominated that game.
This loss should not create panic. Sure Canada has to play another game before meeting the Russians in the medal-qualifying round, but it gives them more opportunity to get their team game together and perhaps roll through the medal rounds.
We'll see what happens. I don't mind the adversity. I also don't mind that more teams are emerging in the international scene. It's good for hockey. Now excuse me while I go drink away my disappointment and curse the names of Thornton (not his dominant self), Getzlaf (dumb), Perry (dumb and dumber) and Brodeur.
Final shots: Canada 45 USA 23. A 93.3% save percentage by Miller and an 81.8% by Brodeur.
Your thoughts on the game?