Thursday, February 20, 2014

Fear and Loathing

 So its the Americans again and you'd think Canada was oh and four based on the panic in the streets (or at least on talk radio and social media).

 The adaptation of Swiss tactics by nearly every team Canada has played so far has made it difficult. Luckily unless Canada meets the Finns in the final (a real possibility of course) they likely won't see this strategy again.

 I heard that some dummy was on Toronto radio yesterday proclaiming that the Canadians were a disgrace and of course such talk is the sign of a weak mind or looking for ratings, most likely the former I would think.

 Spoiled by a stretch of world junior results where Canada blew out everyone, including the Russians twice in consecutive finals, and with memories of the quarter final victory over Russia still fresh in everybody's mind Canadians think that this is the way hockey works. This idea is bolstered by video games where a team of all stars can score at will and by the dumbing down of the national discussion of hockey at all levels, a good part of which can be blamed on the CBC and its embrace of the fourth line thug as a more important part of a team than a skilled player, especially if the latter is European or French Canadian. The Cherryfication of hockey we'll call it, its gospel spread by its disciples, dummies like Healy and Stock and Spector, Doug MacLean and Kypreos and the rest of that lot, shouting and posturing and mocking all reason and intelligence, a collection of feces throwing, hooting, moronic apes.

 We not only expect to win but we expect to win in a landslide, leaving our opponents bloodied, broken and humiliated, and if we do not then it is because we are not tough enough or aren't passionate enough and so the same mouth breathers who claim that the Edmonton Oilers would be better off if they waived Ales Hemsky right off the team, replacing him with nothing to maybe top sixer Ben Eager, are the ones who say that the biggest issue with Team Canada is Sid Crosby because best on best hockey is a video game and he should score five goals a game.

 Now if you've played the game, even at a lower level like myself, and you have even a modicum of sense then you know that in hockey anything can happen. If the teams in this tournament formed a league and played an eighty two game schedule Canada would beat Latvia every time most likely and probably plenty of those games would be blowouts but Latvia might squeak a game out here or there, much like the perennial doormat Oilers did to Chicago a couple of times in past years. As a matter of fact the Oilers whipped Chicago. Anything can happen.

 And in a tournament one game and your out format with teams thrown together ten days ago? Well take that 'anything can happen' and ramp it up a few notches and even more so when the opponents throw tactics at you that are almost impossible to unlock (so far).

 Should Canadians be worried? Well their team has pretty well dominated every game in terms of possession, shots, scoring chances. Not much else can be done. If Kunitz beats Rask and Toews doesn't stumble and Carter pots that backhand then they blow the Finns out.

 Now of course they didn't and while its nice to think that 'the goals will start to come' the reality is that they may not come at all. I would guess that playing a team that does not collapse around its net will help the Canadians open up their offence and most likely we will see a lot of goals tomorrow for the good guys but of course as we saw in Vancouver there is no guarantee. We were the better team there in both games and the end result was a loss and an overtime win.

 My main concern Friday afternoon is that the Americans come out like the proverbial gorillas out of a cage and the Canadians end up on their heels, unused to the speed and quality of their opponent. Kessel and Kane are no longer callow kids but at the height of their powers but then again the same can be said about Toews and Doughty, amongst others on the Canadian side.

 On paper the Canadians should win, their defence is especially superior, but the games aren't played on paper ARE THEY?


 Here is what I wrote four years ago.

 And specifically note this:

These are two good teams but if you were a betting man you would lay money on Canada who have outplayed and outchanced every opponent by a wide margin. Its likely that they will do so again tonight and that the only way that they will lose is if Ryan Miller is outstanding and the Americans are a little lucky.

And based on what has happened in this tournament before today and what we know about the game of hockey we know that this is entirely possible.

Four years later and not a thing has changed basically.

Go Canada!

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