February 20, 2014

steve laidlaw

2014-02-20

Update: John Tavares is done for the year with a torn MCL. I discuss the impact below but I’ll reiterate that this is good for basically no one on Long Island and really this sucks for everyone in hockey. I swear it seems no one in this sport is bulletproof.

 

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Yeesh… that was a doozy of a game between Canada and Latvia. Full credit to the Latvians for elevating their game. Sure, you can count their chances on one hand but they were dangerous and tough to play against. Carey Price didn't see much action but did his best Ken Dryden impersonation staying sharp and stepping up when called upon. A lesser goalie probably let's Latvia steal that one.

 

Ted Nolan is getting a ton of credit for inspiring his troops but I think this is a little over the top. First, Latvia went 0-3 in the medal round (although they were frisky there too). More importantly, if Nolan's such a good coach, why isn't he getting this kind of effort out of his NHL club this season?

 

I'm playing devil's advocate here a bit. I do think Nolan is a good coach. The Sabres have undoubtedly been a better, at least stingier team under his tutelage but I think he's getting a bit too much credit for the Latvian effort yesterday. I mean, they were outshot by 41. FORTY-FREAKING-ONE!

 

I was more impressed with the goalie, Kristers Gudlevskis, than I was with anything else the Latvians were doing.

 

Nolan deserves some credit but I think it's dangerous to overreact to one game. I think if you play that as a seven-game series the Latvians get swept with that being the closest game. Well coached? Yeah sure but that was a wild outcome on the fringes of what you'd expect in a match between these two. I think that Nolan's getting more credit than he's due because he's a familiar face.

 

Gudlevskis was so freaking hot in goal for Latvia that he actually overheated. I've never seen that before. It wasn't long after the trainers had to come out that Canada finally broke the tie on a bomb from Shea Weber. I've no doubt that exhaustion was a factor.

 

One thing we know is that this kid can play. And it was a great showcase for him going up against his general manager's team. Steve Yzerman obviously knew that Gudlevskis had talent before this game but maybe this was enough to earn the next call up ahead of Cedric Desjardins.

 

Of course, just like with Nolan, you don't want to overreact to one game from Gudlevskis. He got lit up by Sweden in his only other appearance in these Olympics and his numbers at the AHL level – 2.69 GAA, 0.900 Save% in 22 games – have only been okay though he was lights out in 11 games in the ECHL.

 

I tend to figure Gudlevskis is a couple years away and with Andrei Vasilevski in the system on top of Ben Bishop breaking out this season I would put it at extremely unlikely we see Gudlevskis emerge at the NHL level any time soon.

 

But with Bishop struggling with injuries recently and Anders Lindback proving himself essentially useless the door could open. Still, if I'm in a keeper league and by some miracle that league is deep enough where I own Gudlevskis I am shopping the crap out of him after this performance.

 

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A lot of panic in Canada after this one but I'm not too shaken. The Americans are obviously a stiff challenge but they aren't unbeatable and I don't think that Canada has played as poorly as the scores of their games reflect. Sure, scoring has been an issue but so far they've played four games in which the opponent has packed it in and hung on for much of those games. Yeah, the Finland and Latvia games were scary but you can't say that Canada wasn't dictating play in either contest.

 

The game against the Americans will be completely different. This is a team that can drive play on their own. That's a scary thought because Canada has yet to face an opponent like that b