Don’t count Canada out yet

Everybody’s talking about Canada’s Olympic men’s hockey team.
Many people are blown away by their round-robin losses and general performance on the ice. And there is a lot of speculation as to why Canada is not dominating in Turin.
I think it’s all quite simple.
Team Canada’s recent 2-0 loss to Switzerland, followed by its 2-0 defeat at the hands of Finland, were scenarios I don’t think the country was prepared to witness.
The loss to Switzerland, or should I say goalie Martin Gerber, was a serious shocker. Gerber made 50 saves, which ultimately won the game for the Swiss.
Canada dominated play but couldn’t find the back of the net.
As for their game against Finland, one of the best teams at the Olympics, it was a different story.
There’s a huge difference between a team made up of great individuals (Canada) and one which plays in a familiar system and grew up playing on the larger ice surface (Finland).
Basically, Team Canada executive director Wayne Gretzky is saying the guys don’t seem to have their heads in the game, aren’t playing as a team, are feeling more pressure than in 2002, and don’t seem to be enjoying what should be the best week of their lives.
The truth is, Team Canada came together 48 hours before the Olympics and were expected to dominate. But when players are drafted in the NHL, it is for individual strengths that ultimately will complement the rest of the team.
Sure, on paper they should be sweeping at the Olympics. But right now, it’s a bunch of individuals with similar strengths and weaknesses trying to put a gold-medal team together.
For example, they’re weak when it comes to passing plays. And with all the darn penalties they call in international hockey, Canada’s power play skills are struggling—and you need a good power play to do well internationally.
The way I see it is, it doesn’t matter what happens before the medal round. Good teams lose—it happens in the NHL every day. The boys simply are adjusting to the ice surface all the while trying to develop some chemistry.
This isn’t women’s hockey, where Canada is so far ahead of the rest of the world it isn’t even funny. When it comes down to it, however, I think Canada will put on quite the show and pull through for the country when it truly matters.
What they need is that one individual to step up, take control, and lead the team to the gold-medal game.
The team lost to Sweden during the round-robin at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City and people were ready to give up on them. But certain players really stepped up to the plate and helped Canada bring home their first gold medal in 50 years.
It’s so easy for everyone to throw down a “rip into Canada” session. This was never a guaranteed gold for Canada. It never has been and it never will be.
So instead of belittling the team and calling for their heads, let’s rally around them. Support them. What a novel idea.

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