Saturday, February 18, 2006

2006 Turin Winter Olympics
Men's hockey: Switzerland 2, Canada 0

Heh... what can you say?

My post of two days ago was titled 'Upset territory', although I don't think this was really what I had in mind.

I'm not going to break into hyperbole — you'll hear enough of it over the next 24 hours — and I really don't know if this is 'the biggest ever upset' of Canada in international play. When a list of 'upsets' goes up here, I'll be sure to put it up.

In any event, Canada played poorly, Martin Gerber was fantastic and the Swiss play a pretty stifling style. If you're a Canadian hockey fan, you won't want to hear this, but what this game really reminded me of was Nagano: Team Canada players looking bewildered, taking stupid penalties and the team's coaching staff not having a clue what to do. Meanwhile, the pro-European crowd goes bonkers.

(Although we should keep in mind Canada did outshoot Switzerland 24-1 in the third period.)

On Thursday, I had said these one-off upsets (and, my, there have been a lot of them so far), wouldn't have implications on the tournament, and that still looks like it could be the case. Switzerland's all but guaranteed a medal-round berth after beating both the Czechs and Canadians, but with Italy and Germany tying today, those two seem destined for the relegation battles.

Now a 'Giant Killer,' The Swiss are going to scare the bejesus out of whatever team lines up with them in the quarter-finals. Both of the team's goaltenders — Colorado Avalanche 'tender Dave Aebischer being the other one — are hot coming in and considerered superstars in their home country.

On the other hand, Canada hasn't looked particularly good so far in this tournament, and their next two games will be very, very big. They play Finland tomorrow — a team that didn't allow a goal in its first two games and who is playing the Czechs later today. Is it time to panic if you're cheering for a repeat gold-medal performance from the Canucks? Probably.

Elsewhere this afternoon, Slovakia and the U.S. lineup in a game that should really show us if the Americans have come to play in Turin. The Slovaks have looked like the tournament's best team through two games, although that's not saying much considering the dogpile we've got going in the standings.

6 Comments:

At 12:39 PM, February 18, 2006, Blogger Tom L said...

James,

good stuff. This was the first chance I've had to watch the men's tourney and, by god, was Gerber good! I had a feeling from the beginning of this game was that there was a shut-out in the offing.

You gotta love how hard the Swiss played, matching the Canadians physically.

Things like this are great for the sport. Now, I gotta run over to Golbez's site to see if he's started the Brodeur-pile-on.... :0

Ta,

 
At 1:50 PM, February 18, 2006, Blogger Jeff J said...

"Switzerland's all but guaranteed a medal-round berth..."

They have a good shot at a top two placement. Their remaining games are versus Italy and Germany, and they have only lost to the Finns. If they win those and the Finns lose to the Czechs and Canada, Switzerland wins the group.

 
At 2:05 PM, February 18, 2006, Blogger James Mirtle said...

The thing is, I don't even think it's a given Switzerland beats Italy and Germany. They have such little offence (five goals scored in three games) that they could easily lose one or both of those games.

I wouldn't rule out a 0-0 tie.

 
At 2:56 PM, February 18, 2006, Anonymous Julian said...

Time to panic? It was one game, and Canada outshot them 49-17 or something, not to mention had two debatable goals called back.

Sure they didn't look to spectacular, but it was bound to happen at some point, and better now than next week.

 
At 3:21 PM, February 18, 2006, Blogger Chris said...

There's no shame in saying that this was probably the biggest upset in recent memory. Would have been bigger if it had happened in the elimination rounds, but stil...shut out by the Swiss? Good for them.

Bigger question for you, and I'm speaking Leaf fan to Leaf fan here...isn't this a little bit about Quinn? I can't help feel that he's losing it.

 
At 5:04 PM, February 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Sens fan I found it eerily reminiscent to our playoff loses. A lot of hot air is gonna be tossed aound these next few days but I really think this game came down to a lack of odd-man rushes for Canada and a Swiss goalie playing with unbelievable positioning and rebound control. The fact is, with their style of play, the Swiss probably have a 5% chance of beating Canada when Canada plays well. We just got that 5% thrown at us today.

Phil

 

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