My face when I found out the final Team Canada roster for the World Cup of Hockey…
That’s right, “WTF” was my first thought. Mostly regarding the Team Canada defense.
In regards to every other defensive player besides Brent Burns and Shea Weber, I find the defensive core to lack what Brian Burke would call “truculence” and I believe Canada could have made some changes to necessitate that truculence.
Luckily, Team Canada’s offensive lines and goaltending are stellar. It will be hard to beat Holtby, Price, and Crawford. They all have the records to prove it. Corey Crawford, the goaltender for the Chicago Blackhawks played 58 games in the 2015-2106 season and recorded 35 wins to his 18 losses and garnered an impressive .924 save percentage. Braden Holtby, goaltender for the Washington Capitals, played 66 games with 48 wins and 9 losses. 48 WINS! And in those 66 games he earned a .922 save percentage. Montreals Carey Price had a short 2015-2016 season due to injury, but in the 12 games he did play, he set his standards high with 10 wins, 2 losses, and a .934 save percentage. Good luck to the other teams – they’re going to need it because it won’t be easy to score on the most elite goalies in the league. Team Canada goaltenders have what it takes to stop pucks regardless of who’s in net. And they may be put to the test – alone – if this Team Canada defensive unit does a mediocre job as I’m expecting.
Team Canada’s offense looks like it could stomp all over other offensive lines in the World Cup of Hockey. I don’t even care that Corey Perry was left off the roster instead of being paired with Getzlaf because the players who were picked have a good chance of taking Team Canada deep into the tournament. Jamie Benn played 82 games in this years regular season and earned himself 41 goals, 48 assists, and a +7 rating. He seems to be at the right place at the right time and reads his linemates well. John Tavares played 78 games this season and garnered 70 points (33 goals and 37 assists) with a +6 rating. I believe he’s one of the most talented players in the league at the ripe age of 26. I don’t care how much people shit on the “Little Ball Of Hate,” you can’t deny the impact that Brad Marchand makes on the Boston Bruins in spite of the Bruins not making playoffs. He had a career year, playing 77 games and tallying 37 goals and 24 assists while maintaining a spectacular +21 rating.
If only they would have picked a different defensive lineup, our chances would have been sealed. But they didn’t, so it could be a struggle defensively to make a deep run. Except for Brent Burns and Shea Weber, the Canadian defense is a little soft on aggression. It seems to me that the d-men were picked for Team Canada based on numbers instead of impact. Yes, Vlasic, Muzzin, and Doughty have numbers, but I think there’s more to defense than just numbers. P.K. Subban and T.J. Brodie are great blue-liners but may not have the numbers to show for it. Subban gets into the heads of his opponents and throws them off their game while Brodie’s skating skills are some of the best in the league. To overlook these things is denying Team Canada a chance at greatness.
Team Canada is a good team. Their chances of winning the tournament are good. But they could have been great. If the defensive lines can surprise me, we might have a chance to take it all. Truthfully, I hope they make me eat my words because I’d love to see Team Canada win.
But, honestly, as it stands, I’ll be cheering on Team North America and the young, talented generation of up-and-comers.