It has been debated for at least 2 years now. And yet here we are, puck drop for the first game is 3 hours from this post going up, or maybe by the time you read this it’ll have already happened. Yet we STILL don’t know who Canada will roll with when the games really start to count. We SHOULD know, but we don’t know. Because we have options. That sounds like a great problem to have, but the key word is still “problem”.
Most of the other countries don’t have these issues. I believe the Czech’s are trying to tell themselves they do with some of their decisions, and the Americans have a few (specifically also in net with Quick and Miller), but far and away Canada has the most. Have you done a 2nd team Canada roster? I’m positive the team I could put together would be damn near equal to the team in Sochi. Your’s likely would be too. So with so much talent we end up over analyzing everything. I did it when selecting my 4 different team Canada’s over a 13 month span, you likely do it, hell even the brass who picks the team I’m sure would admit they do it! And that can be a problem.
A great example was Taylor Hall being left off the team. And when I would make the case for him, people would come back with things like “well he’s on the 29th place team”. So? Why is he penalized because his team sucks? The fact of the matter is that Hall has better speed than almost everyone else on Team Canada’s roster, more points over his last 82 games than almost everyone on Team Canada’s roster, has a game better suited for big ice than just about everyone on Team Canada’s roster, and these are all reason’s why Ralph Krueger was pushing hard to get him on the team when Steve Stamkos was declared out (people thought I was nuts when I said they might take him over St. Louis, Giroux, or Eric Staal). Now I can also make and see the argument against Hall, but the team he plays on shouldn’t be a factor yet because its so tight we make it one. Because 19 other guys aren’t good players? Because management are too awful at their jobs to build a good team around him? That is a terrible reason to leave a guy off the team. But it happens because we over think everything when it comes to Team Canada.
And this leads me to goaltending. When I hear the argument for Roberto Luongo being the guy, I hear what I consider terrible reasoning. “Well he was the guy in 2010”. Right, and in 2010 I was 20 pounds lighter, had more debt, didn’t have this website, wasn’t on twitter, didn’t have a smart phone, was seeing 3 or 4 different girls….things change! These same ridiculous arguments were made for Brodeur in 2010, even by Mike Babcock going into the 3rd game of the round robin against the Americans! Remember that? They split the first 2 games, Luongo had a shutout, Brodeur struggled against the Swiss. But Babcock talked himself into with things like “well Marty showed up when he needed to”. Stupid. Who is the better goaltender? Luongo. Go with him.
Who is the better goaltender now? Price. Go with him. He moves better, he is more relaxed, more technically sound, he’s been the better of the two this season, been the much better of the two of late, he’s been the better goaltender since about the start of the 2011 season. “Well Luongo went to game 7 of the finals” right and he was pulled twice in the finals and was awful in the 2 other loses. And I really like Luongo but don’t give me that he’s played in big games because he’s fallen flat on his face in a lot of big games. This isn’t close, yet we make it close because we over think everything and have too many options.
Mike Smith is the 3rd goaltender. Other than me hardly anyone talked about Jonathan Bernier for this team, but yet who has been the best Canadian goaltender this season? Bernier, and we leave him at home because “well he’s only been the starter for a few months” or “he has yet to do it in a big spot”. Just ridiculous. And when it came to Smith, Ken Holland made a statement of “what else does he have to prove?” What else? Tell me what he HAS proved Ken!! He’s had 1 good season and that was 2 years ago!
And what is funny is we had finally figured this out going into 2002. Coming off the 98 Olympics where we built a team specifically to beat the Americans and then got burned against the Czech’s because we couldn’t score, everyone said going into 2002 “just pick the best players”. That was what Gretzky aimed to do, and we won gold. In 06 we started over thinking things again like having guys like Kris Draper on the team.
Don’t read this wrong. Maybe Luongo does get the gig and goes on to lead us to Gold, entirely possible because I in no way think Luongo sucks! Maybe Price has a bad tournament and doesn’t perform to his level. Entirely possible, but you have to go with the best guy. This isn’t hard when you get right down to it. Carey Price is the better goaltender. Watch the games. I’m not going to throw out stats, I don’t care about them. Let your eyes tell you the story. And when you watch them play you can see….with quite a bit of ease…that Price is better than Luongo. No issue at all with them splitting the first 2 games in what, let’s be honest, are gimme games for Canada.
But no matter what happens in these first 2 games, it’s my opinion that Price should be the guy against Finland and into the playoff rounds. The Olympics happen every 4 years, not every year. 2010 is done, Luongo is now 34. Live life through the wind shield not the rear view mirror (not my saying but I love it). Price should be the guy, but other solid options are available to us and there for it becomes more of a problem than a luxury.
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