Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The view from Orlando: I'm really hoping I'm right about Mike Babcock

With massive jealousy of my blogmate's location and tickets held (read the posts before this one), I had to make do with sunshine, watermarks, and watching the Canada-Switzerland and Canada-U.S. men's hockey debacles while on vacation in Florida. There are worse fates. It was a little tough, especially during the Canada-U.S. game, to not be surrounded by a crowd that cared enough to yelp loudly at Canada goals, as I did. Apparently, not that many Canadians and/or hockey fans at my hotel.

Anyway, lots to be angry about going into tonight's game with Angela Merkel's troops, but here are my overarching thoughts so far/going ahead:

• The switch to Luongo had to be made. I was a Brodeur supporter going in, but dude is clearly way too distracted by the liberation of a non-trapezoid game, and not playing behind a Jacques Lemaire-style system. All of Switzerland's and the Americans' goals probably have been stopped by a butterfly goalie, of which Luongo is the absolute best. The Canadians' systems aren't at fault, because they're forcing outside shots. It's just, Brodeur isn't stopping them because his style isn't aces against deflections and screens. Plus, he's giving up the chances because he wants to be a defenceman.

• I'll say this, too: If Luongo doesn't play well against Germany, but Canada manages to advance, anyway, my next play would be Fleury, and I wouldn't hesitate.

• I really, really like Mike Babcock as a coach. He's great at in-game adjustments, at reading his team, at matchups … it's all good. I blame him for nothing to date, because I think he can expect that this group should all be good, and he's getting a read at who to play situationally. For instance: Never play Corey Perry again when the game's on the line, because he'll apparently loaf it in his own zone with an empty net and Ryan Kesler on his ass.

This is easy to say right now. Germany should be a gimme but, presuming Canada gets to the Russia game, he needs to outcoach every team going forward. Russia-Sweden-Gold Medal Game is an awfully difficult road, if that's indeed how it ends up.

• Duncan Keith and Drew Doughty are both fantastic, poised, and guys who I want on the ice in difficult moments. Pronger is done, and having both Niedermayer and Boyle on this team with him was a mistake. One experience guy is fine. I'm thinking they're regretting no Bouwmeester right now, who could have replaced any of the three. Similarly, Mike Green would be looking pretty good on the power play, and could have been protected as the No. 7, because Doughty is obviously good enough to play Top 6 in this environment. Imagine if they could have sent out Keith-Seabrook, Doughty-Niedermayer, Bouwmeester-Weber and Green? Better.

• Nash needs to have some finish, the puck-handling, power-forward exhibition is only any good if it's there.

• It isn't going to happen, but they should consider dropping Thornton to the 13th forward. Most of the Sharks' chemistry so far has been from Marleau and Heatley, and you can't tell me that Crosby or Toews wouldn't look amazing there right now.

• Finally: There IS finish on this team, and they're not going to outshoot teams by 20 for much longer without starting to see results. The tournament is wide open, that's for sure. But with Luongo in goal now, there's plenty of reason to be optimistic.

Plus, regardless, the hockey is bloody amazing.

Have fun at the game, WI.


walkinvisible said...

the game was si-ick and me and mikeH (your other blogmate who was there) had a kickass time.... unfortunately, i forgot my camera cables, which simply means that i have more time to consider whether or not i wanna post the pix of me with roenick. ;) other than that, OH MY GOD was that a fun game to be at. i taught some kid how to iggy holler and every single LUUUU was punctuated with a "GO-IGGY !!!!!".

so awesome.

awildermode said...

never thought about goaltending styles being a factor.