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» 2005 » December

  • Canada’s Olympic Team

    So the announcement of Team Canada’s 2006 Olympic team had a few surprises like we knew it would.

    The biggest issue seems to be the inclusion of Todd Bertuzzi on the team. Bertuzzi of course best known for his attack on Colorado’s Steve Moore that left him with a fractured neck and the inability to play hockey ever again. This will always be a sensitive issue and some people will hate Bertuzzi for the rest of his life. I do believe Bertuzzi is genuinely remorseful and apologetic for what transpired, I don’t believe it was his intention to seriously injure someone although he is still responsible for his actions. He had a stiff suspension and was also eventualy cleared legally. What else can you do? He’ll forever live with that on his shoulders and at what point do you move on? There are people vehemently opposed to his inclusion and people who are on his side, and people on the fence. I’m sure a lot of people on the fence will have no problem forgetting about all the controversy when Bertuzzi scores a game winner in overtime for Canada or delivers a bone crunching hit.

    There are a few question marks on the roster, most notably on the defensive side. I’m really unsure why Adam Foote deserves to be on this team and I have reservations about Rob Blake also. Most notable because Bryan McCabe is sitting in the stands. I hate the Leafs believe me, and don’t like to give them credit in anyway, that being said – you can’t deny the type of season he is having and what kind of game he brings to the table. CERTAINLY more than Adam Foote. Foote is old and slow and having a dreadful year. You can say the same about Blake. They aren’t the same players they once were. The argument is Canada is going with ‘experience’ and players who have ‘been there’ and played under the pressure. While that might be a good idea, they’re drawing the line pretty close. Experience is good, but does it out weigh youthful exuberance and higher skill? It’s tough to call.

    Canada could send 10 forward lines to the Olympics and they could all be the top line. Going into the selection process we knew some very skilled players would be left aside. Spezza and Staal are on the taxi squad while Sidney Crosby got no mention. Not to many people will argue Crosby had to be on the team at age 18. It’s harder to deny Spezza and Staal’s place. Considering players like Martin St-Louis and Shane Doan aren’t having their best years. Rick Nash is a fantastic player but has only played a handful of games this year. Again, it comes back to experience and having ‘been there before’. Should someone go down with injury and need to be replaced, we have talented guys ready to step in.

    The Goalies were no surprise. Brodeur, Luongo and Turco. You can’t deny any of those players they all deserve a chance. Unless Brodeur gets injured or has a terrible start don’t expect to see any action from Turco while Luongo may get one game. Theodore deservedly so, wasn’t even on the radar screen.

    That being said, a monkey could pick team Canada and still end up with a Gold medal. That’s the beauty of Canada, we are the best hockey country in the world and despite the controversy will still probably end up #1.

  • King Kovalev lifts Habs over Sens

    What a difference 1 player can make.

    Alex Kovalev returned from knee surgery just in time to take on the Ottawa Senators. Kovalev had a night to remember scoring his 300th career NHL goal and his 700th career point in lifting the Canadiens to a 4-3 shoot out victory.

    The Canadiens trailed the Senators 3-0 despite outplaying them for most of the game. Sheldon Souray’s glasses were still at Lens Crafters when he left the puck behind the net for Jason Spezza who easily wrapped it into the gaping cage. At that point it looked like it was going to be ‘one of those games’. You don’t spot a team like Ottawa such trashy goals.

    Claude Julien was forced to really juggle his line combinations. Due to injuries or due to poor performance? Probably both. There were several strange first time line combos such as Ryder, Sundstrom and Begin, and they worked. The Canadiens out hustled the Sens for the most part and only fell down 3-0 due to a stream of 1 sided penalties. Then the Kovalev show began.

    Kovalev collected his 700th career point after stepping right through the Ottawa defense and firing a shot that rebounded straight to Sundstrom. 3-1. But team’s just don’t go down 3-0 to Ottawa and expect to win. Only 1 time this year has a team beaten Ottawa after they score first.

    Who else could score another and make the game interesting? His initials are M.R and no it wasn’t Mario Roberge. Michael Ryder ripped a shot over a bumbling Hasek after taking one of Andrei Markov’s tape to tape laser passes. 3-2.

    It seemed to stun Ottawa a bit and the Habs were all over them. Kovalev seemed to be triple shifted all night and there he was again behind the net as he drew a 4 minute high sticking penalty after a gash on the nose from Ottawa’s Meszaros. Markov found Kovalev near the face off dot and his pass was dead on, Kovalev ripped a wrister to the top corner that few other if any player could have made. 3-3.

    Cristobal Huet played well enough when he needed to and got a couple lucky posts that haven’t been going our way lately. Brining the 3-3 game to a shoot out.

    Cristobal Huet vs Dominik Hasek? Cristobal Huet in his second game back after 2 years. Against the highest scoring team in the league? Hmm.

    Well Huet did the job and stopped Dany Heatley’s attempt to go 5 hole. Send in the Canadiens secret weapon, Pierre Dagenais. For some reason he’s got the shoot out down, he beat Hasek easily and after Daniel Alfredsson made a rare error and missed the net, it was up to Kovalev.

    Kovalev ripped another laser shot into the same spot as Dagenais. Game over. Habs come back from a 3-0 defecit to beat the Senators. Game of the year. Overall Hasek looked fairly ordinary in the shootout. Perhaps Pierre Dagenais should have taken the 1998 Olympic penalty shot against Hasek instead of Brendan Shannahan.

    Efforts like that one lead you to believe the Canadiens can contend with any team in the league. They proved they can, but 1 game is just that, 1 game. It’s time to get consistent. With Kovalev in the lineup it appears they are much closer to being able to do that. I doubted that Kovalev was that big an impact, when he went down the Canadiens were on a winning streak and most assumed they’d miss him but still contend. Kovalev’s impact on the team really is substantial and he’s proving he’s worthy of every penny.