February 24, 2014

Dobber Sports

2014-02-24

A couple of New Jersey notes from beatwriter Tom Gulitti – Eric Gelinas has been recalled. And Damien Brunner is on a line with Patrik Elias and Adam Henrique

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On Friday I hosted an event in Toronto for DobberHockey readers and Dobber Sports writers. Among those in attendance, besides myself, were fellow ramblers Steve Laidlaw and Michael Amato, as well as about 10 other writers and friends of the site. Some pictures can be found here.

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I’m going to assume that each and every reader here already saw Canada win gold Sunday and have already heard 100 opinions via TV, radio or online. So I won’t waste too much space on this. I just know that Canada’s defensemen were graded an A+ by me after the Latvia game. And then they were somehow 10 times better against the USA and Sweden. What’s A+ times 10? Is there an A++++++++++? Flawless. Almost completely flawless.  And ignoring the line combo stuff from early on, the team was very well coached. The line combos settled down the last two games more or less – and even if I disagree with a couple of the lines, I’m glad that Mike Babcock stuck with them. At that point in the tournament, you stop fiddling. And he did.

So my Team Canada grades:

Defense: A++++++++++

Goaltending: A (Price was even better than he needed to be – great composure)

Offense: B (they were committed to playing error-free hockey, but they still took shots they shouldn’t have and passed on shots they should have taken – but that’s a line-combo familiarity thing)

Coaching: A (Babcock had a short window to work with, and stuck with his game plan – well done)

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Other Olympic issues I should touch upon:

– I still would have dressed Subban as the seventh defenseman, but Babcock showed me that his game plan was tailor-made for Weber, Doughty, Bouwmeester, Pietrangelo, Keith and Vlasic. In future tournaments (I’m not sure the NHL goes to the Olympics again) I’ll be more cognisant of that when I critique a roster put together for a Mike Babcock-coached team.

– Team USA was the best team in the tournament, hands down, until Friday. Then they seemed to play scared against Canada. Or maybe Canada’s defense was honed into a well-oiled machine by that point. Regardless, the loss sucked all the passion out of the American players. Playing for bronze just wasn’t inspiring for them. I know they cared about winning bronze when that game began – but without the inspiration, and with the crushing disappointment still on their mind, they just didn’t show up. Especially once Finland scored.

Teemu Selanne was the MVP of the tournament. A great choice, given his legend. But if his name was Teemu Selanovan, he was obviously not the MVP just based 100% on play. That would be either Shea Weber or Drew Do