The 4th and final chapter in my Canadian Olympic team prognostication series. I didn’t know how many of these I would end up doing, but to be honest this last one has just kind of snuck up on me during the holidays. But I figured this would be as good of a time as any with CBC airing their behind the scenes documentary about the Canadian brass putting this team together. By the time many of you read this in fact that will have likely already aired. But anyway I wanted to get this in before hand so I didn’t have any influence.
Now, I’ve run long on these before. I’m going to try not to do that this time. But what I am going to do is show 2 versions of this team. The team that I would select, and the team that I believe they will select. As of typing this I have no clue what either will look like to be honest. But I know there will likely be 5 or 6 differences between the 2 teams. I hope I don’t prove them wrong in the end, although to be brutally honest I believe we will see something similar to what happened in Torino in 2006. There is so much travel, so little time to build chemistry, not anywhere near the same amount of intensity, have to get used to playing on the big ice, and all things just add up to a huge mountain that they’ll have to climb.
But having said that, our boys are still going over there and Steve Yzerman’s group is going to attempt to pick a team that can surprise me and a lot of other fans and bring home a 2nd consecutive gold medal. Before that, as always with this thread if you want to see how I had my first 3 additions of team Canada here are the links:
Here is the forward group I believe they will take to Sochi:
John Tavares – Sidney Crosby – *Steven Stamkos
Eric Staal – Jonathan Toews – Martin St.Louis
Logan Couture – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Mike Richards – Patrice Bergeron – Rick Nash
Claude Giroux, Patrick Sharp
Now, is that how the pieces will fit…I really have no clue. First things first, I had Chris Kunitz on this team. I bought into what the media has been saying and thought “yep, they’ll be that stupid”, and while I do think Chris Kunitz is underrated playing in the NHL, he’s not on “this” level. But the more I looked at things, the more I couldn’t find a spot for him. You can take him, but then who are you leaving off? Claude Giroux? He’s maybe been the best Canadian forward the last 2 months and is a PPG player the last 3 seasons. Mike Richards? All that International experience left at home? Logan Couture? Younger, faster, higher skilled and versatile? So I don’t see a spot for Kunitz, but still won’t be shocked if they pull the trigger on taking him.
As for the rest….Matt Duchene might be the biggest ommission. This wasn’t easy. At one point I left Eric Staal off, one point I left Martin St.Louis off, one point I left Logan Couture off, at one point I left Rick Nash off. But at the end of the day I feel like they leave Duchene off because of his lack of experience. I believe it will be one of Duchene, Couture or Sharp who get left home. The rest of the forwards were either on the 2010 and even though the brass will claim they aren’t being loyal to those guys, hockey guys can’t help but be loyal. That is also why St.Louis is here. He’s obviously great, but the biggest reason I’m betting he makes it is because Yzerman pretty much will HAVE to take his guy.
No Jamie Benn, no Milan Lucic and that is mainly because of the big ice. Those 2 are elite NHL players, but they don’t have elite foot speed and especially in the case of Lucic his game could hurt more than it may help with IIHF officials doing the games.
As for the Stamkos situation….IF he can’t go then I believe Matt Duchene is the guy but IF he can’t go, they don’t have to name someone until the night before the tournament begins I believe. So while it could be Duchene, it could be Taylor Hall, it could be Jamie Benn, who the hell knows who might be the hot player at that time.
Now, that was the forward group I believe is going. Here is the forward group that I personally would take over:
John Tavares – Sidney Crosby – *Steven Stamkos
Matt Duchene – Jonathan Toews – Claude Giroux
Logan Couture – Eric Staal – Corey Perry
Mike Richards – Patrice Bergeron – Brad Marchand
Martin St.Louis, Patrick Sharp
The team I selected has a little more speed (no Getzlaf who again is one of my favourite players in the league), and obviously as I had in other posts I would still have Brad Marchand. The guy is miserable to play against, is a winner, is one of the most clutch players in the game, is experienced, and gives you a different dimension than the other star players do. In fact, I not only think that Marchand should be heavily considered for this team, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the brass is HEAVILY considering David Perron for this team.
He has 32 points in 40 games this season, is even on year playing on a horrible Oilers team, and he is a nightmare to play against. He draws penalties, he stirs the pot, he’s fearless on the ice. For the actual team, Perron would likely be ahead of Marchand due to Kevin Lowe, Doug Armstrong and Ken Hitchcock all being a part of this process, not to mention he is having a much better season than I like Marchand better because he is more proven, but it is the same idea.
No Rick Nash for me, I just think the guy gets overrated. They see the size and the speed and the skill and people drool. But he’s never been a guy who has to think the game, and he’s never been too much of a clutch player either. I don’t hate him by any means, but he’s not without his warts.
Now that was the group up front. The back end and the goaltenders I won’t need to spend nearly as much time on. I haven’t really wavered on what the blueline will look like. Although there is one guy who I got CRUSHED for having on my original team who has made a late charge. Here is what I think they will do:
Duncan Keith – Shea Weber
Jay Bouwmeester – Alex Pietrangelo
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Drew Doughty
Kris Letang – P.K. Subban
Now I’m STILL not convinced Subban will be on this team. But you look at the numbers and Subban has 10 more points and is +10 where Boyle is -2 on a better hockey team. So it is pretty tough to leave Subban off, but then how do you leave Boyle off when he is that great of a skater, more experienced and plays a safter game than Subban? You might say “then you leave off Letang or Vlasic”. Well the problem there is Letang can play both sides which is a huge advantage, and Vlasic is a LH shot which is a big deal to the brass.
Speaking of Vlasic, he is the other change I have made and it is simply a case of Marc Staal just now coming back off a concussion. I believe Vlasic, Staal, and Dan Hamhuis are all the same type of guy and you can’t really go wrong with any of them. I would take Staal. He has a bit more size, and has been more of an anchor for the Rangers than Vlasic has been for the Sharks. But it is splitting hair’s.
Of course I have spoken of this many times before, but a guy like Brent Seabrook gets little to no attention simply because of the massive amount of RH shot D already on this team. I’m saying they take 5 RH shot guys already, and they’ll want as many great skaters as they can have on D for the big ice.
But for me, there is a LH shot D-man who I believe will get left off this team and I don’t think he should. If you have watched him play this season, he has been terrific and without a doubt the MVP of his team. Here would be my Olympic blueline:
Duncan Keith – Shea Weber
Jay Bouwmeester – Alex Pietrangelo
Marc Staal – Drew Doughty
Mark Giordano – Dan Boyle
No P.K. on my team, I laid it out above as to what Boyle has going for him over Subban. I love Subban, but people get too enthralled with what they see on Sports Centre (or if they’re idiots….Connected). The fact of the matter is, Boyle can make all the offensive plays that Subban can, and he is less likely to make the terrible decision at the worst time, OR to throw big hit that the Swedish official deems a head shot.
Then you have Giordano. He is of course the guy who I got crucified over by so many people. Even though he’s probably not going to make this team, I can proudly say that I was a lot more right about him than the people who tried to claim I had lost my mind and he wouldn’t even be considered. This guy is a damn good D-man. Great skater, can play physical, has experience playing on the big ice (played the 06 season in the KHL), is a good defender and can bring a lot of offense. You may love the Flames or you may hate them, but you can’t deny how much of an impact Mark Giordano has on that hockey club. Don’t be shocked if he’s one of the 8 D announced on the 7th.
Finally as usual we have the tendy’s. Last time I put Luongo as my starter, and then Price went on a tear. Last time I finally admitted Cam Ward was likely out of the running, and then he came back from injury and finally started getting recognition. So I’m scared to say what I really believe because things could backfire on me. But here we go:
So I still don’t think they’ll take Ward LIKE THEY SHOULD! But the guy you can’t make an argument against really is Crawford. What can you say against him? He won the Cup, he should have been (at least by the numbers) the Conn Smythe winner, he’s not a product of a defensive system, and he’s having another solid season. So many of the media believe it will be Mike Smith….but why?
I admit I had Smith going last time, but I basically just figured the media must know something the rest of us don’t. But when you look at it, how can the team Canada brass take a guy who basically had 1 big season, and has clearly been a product of Dave Tippett’s system? Even if they don’t believe he is, he’s never proven that he isn’t. Don’t forget, Steve Yzerman let this guy walk after the 2011 season. This season, if you want to compare Smith and Crawford, Smith has a bit better save percentage, but Crawford has a bit better G.A.A. I’ll take the guy who has the ring and doesn’t have questions about how his numbers are what they are.
As for other guys, Josh Harding deserves a long hard look. He’s been terrific this season! I personally don’t get why Jonathan Bernier never gets mentioned. Being in Toronto, I would have guessed more people would be mentioning him as the possible 3rd goalie. Marc-Andre Fleury is having a very solid season but you simply can’t take him based off his last 2 playoff performances. Of course my guy is Ward. Price as my starter, Luongo as the backup and Ward as the 3rd guy is how I would go.
At the end of the day, the 3rd goaltender likely won’t be anything of a factor. Canada has their top 2 guys and they’re 2 guys I believe everyone feels comfortable with heading into the Olympics. Price should be the starting guy and I’m going to be pretty unhappy if he’s the hotter guy heading in and they go with Luongo based on “well he won for us in 2010”. Right, and now it’s 2014. You go with the better goaltender and with how Price has played this season….not including last night….he has to be the starting goaltender.
It is going to be a VERY intriguing few days until this roster gets announced. Some would say you can’t go wrong, but I clearly am not one of those people. So much attention to detail goes into selecting this team, and a few ridiculous decisions can be the difference between gold and coming home empty handed.
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