Sunday, February 19, 2006

 

That's Hockey

Two things, and I'm not trying to be smart-alecky, so I hope it doesn't sound that way.

One:
There is an object lesson to be learned from Canada's consecutive 2-0 losses. When your NHL team has trouble scoring over a short stretch, there is always a temptation to attribute it to lack of secondary scoring, or If We Just Had One More Decent Playmaking Centre This Wouldn't Happen. If you resist this temptation next time it happens, then you have learned the lesson.

Two:
The familiar narrative of the 2002 Olympics is one of the Canadian team coming together slowly, then peaking in the playoffs, culminating with a dominating 5-2 gold medal win. This narrative is essentially false: a combination of revisionism and fallacy of reasoning.

In short, if Canada wins the gold, they will be said to have "gelled" etc. It doesn't happen the other way around. (Lucky Finland: if they fail to win gold, they will be said to have "peaked too early", yet another characterization that is a consequence of results, not a cause of them.)

I'm not worried about Team Canada, but that is not because I'm certain they'll come through in the end. It's because they have some obvious strengths, no glaring fatal weaknesses, and a lot of talent.

I think they probably have a better chance of winning 3 straight games for a gold than anyone else. But, it's hockey. The St. Louis Blues are not better than the Canucks, and yet they've beaten them 3 times. You don't need an excuse to lose two straight hockey games, because it's not behaviour that requires excusing. It's hockey.

Go Canada.

Comments:

Damien Cox is still going to make this entirely Pat Quinn's fault though, which is the other side of the 'If we had one more centre.." lament.
Wild pleas for Spezza/Staal to step begin in 5...4...3...
 


Yeah, call me cynical but I somehow don't think that this is going to be the lead story tomorrow in the sports section.

(I think that you're absolutely right though.)

The interesting story would be why Canada is losing. It really looks to me like that first goal is going to be crucial to Canada. If the opposition gets the first (and second) goal, they're really able to sit back in a defensive shell, something that doesn't seem to be happening to the other countries-teams aren't as afraid of them. Canada's games have been boring compared to gems like Slovakia-Russia or Czech-Finland. I have a feeling we're going to see Canada either winning games by four goals if they can force the opposition to open up, or losing by one or two if they end up playing from behind in these trap games.
 


Gord Stellick did it this morning, asking why "goal scorers" like Staal and Crosby weren't on the team. As if the rest of these guys can't score.

I noted five things yesterday:

a) a lack of urgency from the get-go

b) a lack of a go-to guy to change the momentum of the game. I noticed Mario Lemieux's absence yesterday. Now, that may have more to do with my comfort level than reality, but all I kept thinking was,"who is going to make the big play, whether it's a shot, pass, hit, or just taking a penalty?" Other than Kris Draper, I don't think a single player looked bothered either during the game or after it. I find that worrisome, because as solid as Draper is, he doesn't seem like the kind of transcendent player a team rallies around. Whatever happened to Jerome Iginla being the best player in the world? Has Sutter's defensive restraint sucked all the heart and soul out of the guy?

c) The ref seemed more comfortable with letting the Finns play physical than the Canadians. Unlike Ron Maclean, I thought the game was poorly called. The Fins threw several elbows, as well as some clutching and grabbing, that wasn't called. I specifically remember a play in the Finnish zone where a Finn grabbed a Canadian player by the back of his jersey and just pulled him down. No call.

d) The defence looked lost, especially Chris Pronger. It looked like he thought it was still 2003.
 


Ooops. That's four.
 


For once I put my two cents on my own page instead of giving away the store here. (Short version: there's not much sense saying "I wish we had X"--except where X equals Crosby.)
 

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