Team Canada loses to Team USA; No Need for Panic
Canadians all around the country this morning are busy trying to find different ways to blame Steve Yzerman and Mike Babcock for last night's 5-3 loss to the United States in the last game of the Group round at Vancouver. Yzerman didn't choose the right defensemen, the right forwards. Babcock didn't play the right goaltender. The list of excuses could stretch down at least a couple of pages. But is there really a need for excuses? Is there really a need to lay the blame on someone?
I bleed the red and white colors of the Canadian flag, and I support this country and its team to the bitter end, but credit must be given where it is due. The American team, and in particular, their goaltender, Ryan Miller, simply wanted last night's game more than the Canadians did.
Miller made 42 saves in the US win, and when you stop 42 shots from some of the best snipers in the NHL, you deserve to win the hockey game. Add to that a hard working group of goaltenders, and some bad luck on the other side of the ice, and there isn't really anything to be upset about if you're a Canadian on this Monday morning.
Sure, Martin Brodeur could have been better. Sure, the Canadians could a better shot on the powerplay, or a better 4th line. But in the end, Miller was simply lights out. Rafalski simply took charge of the game for the Americans, and their role players did their jobs perfectly.
Was Martin Brodeur the right goaltender for the game? Should Mike Green have been chosen over some of the defensemen on the team? Were Mike Babcock and Steve Yzerman the right people to lead this team?
These are questions that can't be answered after only a single, group stage loss. With a near-guaranteed win against Germany in qualifiers to come on Tuesday, and a battle of epic proportions that's being set up for Wednesday against the Russians, Canadians need to relax and realize that Team Canada is still in this, and that maybe a loss will actually do them some good in the long run of the tournament. It might get them to finally wake up and start playing as a team. It might get players such Nash, Iginla, and Neidermayer to start playing like the players they truly are.
The only thing that we can say with certainty is that despite the troubles, all the questions, and all the worrying is that there is no need for panic. There is a lot of hockey to be played and a lot of proven winners on this team that can lead them past their deficiencies, past their problems and past the uncertainty and bring them to the medal game that they need to be in.