I’ve pretty much only talked hockey for a few months now. I’m Canadian, deal with it. Also, its the dead season on the sports calender, so I need SOMETHING to talk about. I had a Sam Gagner piece ready to go for last Monday, nearly 2000 words down the drain thanks to a pre 7AM MST deal struck between him and the Oilers. So thanks a lot guys, it was a real douchy move to be so selfish and strike a deal that killed my piece.
Regardless, hockey Canada has given me something to beak off about. Back in November I posted my team Canada roster. Well since the camp invetations have now been sent out I decided to do a 2nd version, mainly because that one is now WAY out of date! Here is that piece:
Things look a heck of a lot different now, but the one thing I won’t move off of is that they have to build this team with major speed. Again I’ll state, even on NHL in 2010 the speed these games are played at is just a totally different level. Guys like Chris Pronger and Brent Seabrook looked average at best in 2010 because they couldn’t keep up. So if I can figure this out, I would think hockey Canada will be able to. Here is my forward group now:
John Tavares – Sidney Crosby – Steven Stamkos
Eric Staal – Jonathan Toews – Martin St.Louis
Taylor Hall – Claude Giroux – Corey Perry
Mike Richards – Patrice Bergeron – Brad Marchand
Have to break this down before I get to the blueline. No Rick Nash. That may be a shock but I’m looking at it and asking myself “what kind of impact does the guy ACTUALLY ever bring to a team”. The answer, not much. Now he will have Ken Hitchock likely in his corner (former coach), but I have to think the people in charge will finally notice this. But I completely understand the attraction. 6’4, 230, great wheels, great talent. But he is a difficult guy to play with. Sid had trouble with him in 2010, Columbus never found a guy to play with him, Brad Richards was terrible playing with Nash last season, it just can’t be a coincidence at this point.
I also still don’t have Getzlaf. That is more of a result of the depth down the middle and him having good but not great speed. If someone wanted to suggest that he be in Giroux’s spot on this roster I would be on board for that. I’m a HUGE Getzlaf guy, but I think Giroux’s game is just a little better suited for the Olympic style of game. Both are RH shot centers, and don’t kid yourself…it’s a big deal when picking these teams to make sure we have a lot of both RH and LH shot centers.
Another guy who wasn’t easy to leave off was Logan Couture. I can’t stand Logan Couture’s act, but I can’t deny how good the kid is. I think he may get left off the team because of his act, I just don’t buy that he’s a good kid in the room. That’s not to say if he is a good team guy that he will be on the team, he falls into a category of star but not superstar which Canada has a ridiculous amount of guys in. Matt Duchene, Jordan Eberle, Jordan Staal, Jeff Carter, James Neal, Jamie Benn, etc. Leaving guys off is simply unavoidable. This country could send 4 forward groups that could compete with all the other countries.
Speed, speed and more speed. The first line is loaded, but I could see if they wanted to have Stamkos playing with St.Louis, Giroux moving to his spot on the top line with Toews playing between Hall and Perry, but this is how I personally would have it. Stamkos isn’t a great center, he’s a great sniper so put him on the wing.
I LOVE the 4th line. For me, Marchand has to be on this team. The kid is a winner because he is willing to do literally anything to win. He is the best pest in the game, and doesn’t hit and run. He also is one of the most clutch players in the game. Brad Marchand isn’t an elite talent, but he is an elite component that the team Canada brass simply cannot pass up taking.
Now for the blueline, and I won’t waste anymore time:
Duncan Keith – Shea Weber
Marc Staal – Drew Doughty
Jay Bouwmeester – Alex Pietrangelo
First thing that surely stands out is Bouwmeester. He was GREAT in St.Louis to end last season. Add to that he has so many jumps on other guys. 1, his skating and again I won’t quit harping on it that is going to be a huge factor in this process. 2, Ken Hitchock is on the coaching staff so I expect he will push hard for J-Bo as long as he keeps up his play from the end of last season. 3, the familiarity with Pietrangelo. 4, he is a LH shot d-man and we don’t have a lot of elite LH shot d-men in Canada for some reason.
So Bouwmeester has A LOT going for him to make this team. Would I take him over Brent Seabrook to start an NHL team with? Hell no, but we aren’t talking about the NHL. This is big ice and Seabrook has much more competition for a spot on this roster than Bouwmeester will. Also, Seabrook got pretty exposed against other nations speed in the 2010 Olympics and didn’t see the ice by the gold medal game. That won’t be lost on Mike Babcock.
As for the rest….its the same as last time so I won’t go into detail again. But to me the top 5 should be the top 5 hands down, no questions asked. Maybe some of you wonder about Marc Staal but he just fits in there perfectly. He isn’t a high point producer, but he moves the puck well, skates well, and is an elite defender.
I personally wouldn’t have Letang, although I wouldn’t have the reigning Norris winner in that spot either. If it were up to me I would have Dan Boyle as the 7th d-man. Experience, more proven, moves the puck better, safer, Boyle would be the perfect 7th man. But I think they’ll go with Letang no matter what. He was dreadful against Boston in the playoffs and I think it would be a mistake, but it is also not like it would be a horrific choice…..it wouldn’t be Marc Methot!
I just don’t think Subban has a chance at all. He’s had too many run in’s not just around the league but in his own room at times and I doubt that is a risk the brass will want to take, especially with 2 other d-men bringing the same type of skill set to the table, though neither Letang or Boyle have an eye for the open ice hit like Subban does. But again, splitting hairs really. Boyle would be my guy, I think Letang would be their choice, and Subban is deserving at a shot as well (likely on the taxi squad).
First of all, this absolutely stupid arguement of Luongo needing to be the starter because we won gold with him in 2010 is so bleepin’ ridiculous I can’t believe people who claim to know what they’re talking about try to make this argument. It was 4 years ago!!! And I’m sorry, but Luongo did absolutely nothing to deliver that win. He didn’t win it for us, he just didn’t lose it. Now my tune on @strombone1 has completely changed….mainly because of that twitter account. He is the best athlete follow on twitter in my opinion. But he shouldn’t be the starter on this team. Having said all that, he makes this team.
I will understand the argument for Corey Crawford to be on this team too. He isn’t elite, but he proved in the playoffs he can keep his head in big moments and I love that in a goaltender, that ability to battle. He faces high quality chances playing in Chicago, so I feel like if he were in Phoenix he would be considered elite.
Braden Holtby is too young, but I will say he has shown to have all the ability and composure in the world. I wouldn’t have much of an issue with him making the team. I would trust Holtby more than Mike Smith. I don’t know when in the hell hockey people are going to figure out that Sean Burke isn’t some miracle worker, and Mike Smith is just a product of playing in Dave Tippett’s system. It makes life easy on goaltenders and with that their confidence rises and their game improves. Away from that system, guys like that get BADLY exposed. Smith has big talent, but I wouldn’t trust him. Add to that, in the 2012 playoffs the Kings exposed how the guy can’t keep his head.
As for my number 2 goaltender….I honestly wonder if they left him off the training camp list to motivate him. Because I can’t think of how in the freakin hell they would overlook him. 4-0 in game 7’s!!! Cam Ward is the most proven big game goaltender this country has (other than the over the hill Martin Brodeur). He is coming off an injury, so maybe that played a factor in the decision too, but my goodness I don’t see how if he’s healthy he isn’t there. In Carolina he’s played in a wide open system so he’s definitely not a product of the system, he’s only 29 years old this year so he’s not too young or too old, it just makes no sense to me. Game 7 in the 06 East final, game 7 in the 06 Cup final, game 7 in Jersey in the 1st round in 09, game 7 in Boston in the 2nd round in 09….in OT. I. Don’t. Get. It. I’m saying he makes this team in the end.
And finally my guy, my starter. Carey Price is easily the most talented Canadian goaltender. Carey Price has played in a lot of big games in his young career. But most of all for me, Carey Price plays with no pulse. He is cool, calm and collected in big moments. I think he is simply the perfect guy for us, and it’s funny because the media is in full panic mode over our goaltending, yet I guarantee if Price were a Finn or Russian or Czech or Swede we would be raving about how they have a guy like Price and we have nobody.
At the end of the day, it is a great debate and we really can’t go wrong with so many of our guys. This is how I think it shakes down when you consider all the factors. But there is no doubt that many of you as well as the Canada brass would see some things differently. Nice to have this to discuss in the middle of summer though when many of us are yearning for hockey!
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