OGDB 4.0: NOW IT MATTERS

ready_2_rumble

After three rather uneventful preliminary games, we finally get to the games that matter and Canada ends up with the easiest quarterfinal opponent in Latvia. Give the Latvians credit, they scored three goals on the stingy Swiss yesterday and were deserving of their 3-1 victory, but their Cinderella run ends today.

Had Canada lost to Finland they would be playing Russia, and the angst and excitement would be much higher, but I think we will have to wait until Friday to be excitedly nervous about a game.

While I’m giving Latvia no chance, the Canadian players won’t be looking past them. Canada’s forwards are horny for goals, and I expect we’ll see quite a few of them break out offensively.

I believe people have made a bit too much over the offensive woes of the forwards. It is three games, and while you’d like more goals from the forwards, only the USA and Finland are averaging more goals per game than Canada.

Yes, only three forwards have scored a goal, but the D-men have picked up the slack. You can expect that trend to be reversed in the next few games. Canada’s forwards are simply too good not to start scoring.

Here is a quick look at Canada’s production:

Player GP G A  PTS SOG TOI/G
Drew Doughty 3 4 1 5 8 18:00
Jeff Carter 3 3 1 4 11 13:50
Shea Weber 3 2 2 4 5 21:00
Patrick Marleau 3 0 4 4 7 15:13
Ryan Getzlaf 3 1 2 3 5 13:36
Patrice Bergeron 3 0 2 2 5 13:13
Sidney Crosby 3 0 2 2 5 15:43
Jamie Benn 3 1 0 0 7 12:14
Duncan Keith 3 0 1 1 7 21:00
Alex Pietrangelo 3 0 1 1 7 18:45
Corey Perry 3 0 1 1 6 14:18
Jonathan Toews 3 0 1 1 4 16:52
Jay Bouwmeester 3 0 0 0 4 17:27
Marc-Edourd Vlasic 3 0 0 0 3 15:13
John Tavares 3 0 0 0 5 12:31
Chris Kunitz 3 0 0 0 4 12:25
Rick Nash 3 0 0 0 7 10:05
Matt Duchene 2 0 0 0 4 13:50
Patrick Sharp 2 0 0 0 0 12:04
Martin St.Louis 2 0 0 0 5 11:52
Dan Hamhuis 2 0 0 0 2 6:55
P.K Subban 1 0 0 0 0 11:41

Many are suggesting that Babcock give his top players more minutes, however, he didn’t do that in 2010 and Canada still won gold. Icetime and juggling lines are pretty much the same as what we saw in Vancouver.

“We’ve changed our lines, in my opinion – same at last Olympics – too
much,” Babcock said yesterday, however, that didn’t stop him from switching them up again for today.

He seems to be having an internal battle with himself over line combinations, but I get the sense he wants to stick with some of the new combinations, especially those that get off to a good start today.

LINEUP

Kunitz-Crosby-Bergeron
Marleau-Toews-Carter
Benn-Getzlaf-Perry
Sharp-Tavares-Nash/St.Louis

Matt Duchene will be a healthy scratch, while Nash and St.Louis will rotate on the 4th line. There isn’t enough icetime to get every player involved to the level they are used to, so the fourth line will need to find a way to contribute in 10-11 minutes.

Keith-Weber
Vlasic-Doughty
Bouwmeester-Pietrangelo
Hamhuis

Subban will sit and Hamhuis will likely spend most of the game on the bench. I’d rather have Subban as my 7th D-man, but considering how little icetime the 7th D-man will get, I’m not sure it matters. Babcock wants his D pairs to have a left and right shooting D-man, so the only way Subban could play is if he replaced Weber, Doughty or Pietrangelo. That isn’t happening.

Price

Neither goalie has faced much rubber. Canada has allowed the fewest shots in the tournament so far, 58, and I doubt Price will be very busy today.

QUICK HITS

  • I like that Babcock is going back to Kunitz and Crosby. Kunitz knows how to play with him, and just because they didn’t score for two games doesn’t mean they won’t moving forward. Kunitz was better vs. Finland and his style of play is better suited in grinding games like we will see when Canada faces the USA, most likely, in the semi finals. Kunitz hasn’t been nearly as bad as people suggest, he is just the easy target.
  • Here is the TOI amongst forwards when Canada won gold in 2010:
    Crosby 16:56, Nash 15:46, Marleau 15:36, Eric Staal 14:50, Toews 14:38, Getzlaf 14:00, Heatley 13:50, Iginla 13:40, Joe Thornton 13:35, Perry 12:52, Mike Richards 12:42, Brendan Morrow 11:04 and Bergeron 6:27.
    Babcock had eight forwards with 13:40 or more of TOI/game, so far this year he only has five, and one of them, Duchene, isn’t dressing. I suspect you will see him give more icetime to a few lines the rest of the way.
  • Canada got a lot of production from their blueline in 2010 as well, just not as many goals as we’ve seen so far. Keith, Weber and Boyle had six points in seven games, while Pronger added five.
  • Iginla had five goals in 2010 while Crosby, Heatley and Perry had four.
  • Toews led the team in scoring with 1-7-8 and Iginla 5-2-7, Crosby 4-3-7, Heatley 4-3-7 and Getzlaf 3-4-7 all averaged a point-per-game. Canada has five players at a PPG clip so far this year.
  • Latvia only has 1 active NHL player, 20 year old Zemgus Girgensons for the Buffalo Sabres. Oskars Bartulis and Kaspars Daugavins were in the NHL recently, while 41-year-old Sandis Ozolinsh last played in 2008.
  • I don’t foresee any upsets in the quarterfinals, but if I had to pick one it would be the Czech Republic knocking off the USA. I think we will see CAN/USA and RUS/SWE in the semis on Friday.
  • I’m amazed at how quickly people have overreacted and often over analyzed Canada’s play thus far. I’m not sure what people expect from Crosby, but I think he has played fine. Here is one example of some fans taking Crosby’s struggles a bit too far…

    “Why can’t Babcock give up the Crosby experiment and give his attention to guys that are producing. Let’s face it, Crosby isn’t a factor internationally. His point production in 2010 and now proves it. His “Golden Goal” was him hacking at a loose puck,” John

    I guess nine points in 10 Olympic games thus far is brutal. John, you might want to watch the replay of his goal again. He displayed a bit more skill than just “hacking at a loose puck.”

    John isn’t the only one going overboard. I’ve read comments suggesting Babcock will use Crosby’s line in a checking role moving forward because they are struggling.

  • Hopefully after today’s victory people will be able to exhale and get excited about the semi finals, rather than stress about who isn’t scoring. I can’t wait until Friday.

THIS MORNING….

Madara-Malmane-swimwear-Andres-Sarda1

***That is Latvian Madara Malmane***

GAME DAY PREDICTION:
Canada’s forwards emerge from hibernation and trounce Latvia 6-1.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Someone will freak out that I’m not giving Latvia enough respect and that anything can happen in a one game elimination. I guess, but consider this. If you wanted to make $100 on Canada to win you would need to bet $5,500. I’d say the odds Latvia wins are essentially zero.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Crosby scores a goal and adds an assist to quiet those worried about his play. For good measure Kunitz scores as well.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 


  • Johnnydapunk

    Latvia seems to be playing the trap, or as MacT called it in the 2006 playoffs “The Responsible Forechecking System” and it seems to be working…

    This is away too tight of a game.

  • vetinari

    Anybody can win one game.I wouldn’t like the Oilers chances against Latvia in a seven game series. They might sweep the Oil 4-0.

    Never thought I would type those words…

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    I honestly don’t know what to think of this roster they put together. They’ve controlled the play through the cycle but have yet to really look dangerous to my eye. Yzerman and Babcock assembled a bunch of two-way forwards and have produced some of the most boring hockey I’ve ever seen. This isn’t a knock on the players individually (expect for Kunitz, Sharp and Nash) but I wonder if a team like Latvia gave them this much trouble, how will they respond when Brown and Backes are the ones doing the hitting? Oh yeah, that Kessel guy looks pretty good too.

  • shanetrain

    No passion or heart from the Canadians.!! Look like robots going through the motions. Yes we are all supter stars, we can kinda of coast along etc etc.

    Suban would have added some passion to this game instead of the drones that were floating around

    Also I think the Yserman-Babcock party should be over.

    If Canada plays like this against the USA, they are in for an ass whoppin.

    • Randaman

      Did people pretend to be working while secretly streaming a different game than I was secretly streaming while pretending to be working?

      Canada completely dominated every aspect of the game. In the third period when Canada was pressing Latvia had 3 shots until pulling te goalie. They couldn’t take 2 strides or 1 pass without losing the puck.
      Nothing to be ashamed of from Canada except maybe a lack of finish.

      So much negativism against a team that hasn’t lost yet … Including a win against a very good Finish team who just happens to have beaten a very good Russian team.

  • Sevenseven

    Great goaltending for the Latvians. That said, this was a very troubling win. Not nearly enough from Canada. This could get ugly vs. the Americans.

    1. USA
    2. Sweden
    3. Finland
    4. Canada

    I hate making that prediction, but I can’t see Canada beating the States, and they’ll flame out against the Finns for bronze.

    • ubermiguel

      I don’t know why you’re getting so many “Trashes”. This is a team that barely beat Finland and Latvia. Against the US it could get ugly, unless the scorers remember how to score.

      • Time Travelling Sean

        We beat Finland, something Russia didn’t do, and the States had to get a lucky call to cancel a goal and then beat them in a shootout.

        We also didn’t barely beat Latvia or Finland, we destroyed them. When making it to center ice is a victory….

        • ubermiguel

          The possession stats for Canada/Latvia were extremely one-sided. But until “making it to centre ice” becomes the method by which games are decided I see close games that could have had different outcomes with a couple of different bounces.

  • BringBackSlats

    Hmm K…So much for Food Stuffers lame prediction of the Russians winning gold. He might have a great memory recall, but it goes to show how little the guy actually understands what it takes to win hockey games. He’s all about the offensive awe, and never once questioned how bad their defensive core is next to the ridiculous talent on both Canadian and American bluelines. What a chump! Personally I’m in the corner of Belov as an Oiler, but if he’s playing big minutes on your squad there’s an issue.
    Hat’s off to Nolan and the Latvians. Displayed the type of courage and grit Oiler fans long for. That goalie was off the hook. Anyone notice every time the camera pans over the braintrust in the rafters they’re all watching intently except for one. Yeah ol’ 6 rings has better things to do on his BB. Perhaps he’s cooking up another deal? Realized with the Smid trade we ended up with 2 minor league prospects. That was some kind of wheeling and dealing there Kevin.

  • ubermiguel

    The goaltending was good but not great. What game were they watching , Canada had opportunities however they continued to shoot into his pads. I really can’t recall any great saves.

    If Canada continues to shoot like they did against Latvia, USA will win easily.

  • shanetrain

    Good thing we didn’t hire Ted nolan during our last five coaching experiments. His team sure lacked skill and was destroyed by… wait. That bunch of rag tag mens leaguers nearly stole the Canada game? Imagine what he could do with our rag tag team.

  • Sevenseven

    On paper Canada is the better team. However if you were watching this tournament USA is a much better team. What team will show up for Canada the team that has looked pretty average or the team that we have not seen .

  • BringBackSlats

    Should have better qualified my statement there… So being that Smid was the main return in the Pronger deal, all we have are now the Broissoit and Horak prospects. Really Kevin… For Chris Pronger? Is that how much you know about winning from a management side. Micron moulded skate wearing, coattail riding, arrogant lemon. I remember when I was a kid and got to go into the dressing room with my minor hockey team. Our goalie was a bruins fan and wore a Beantown hat into the room. I heard Mr. Lowe say “what kind of team is this” and not in a joking kind of way. He was actually mad that a 9 yr old kid had the audacity to wear an opponents colours into his dressing room. Meanwhile the class of the room, Gretz is politely signing away autographs and Mess was balancing a stick on his nose to make the kids laugh. Unreal how cool those guys were. Showed back then the kind of guy Kevin was. From the words of Seinfeld…”can’t stand ya” Kevin.

    • wiseguy

      I’m one of Lowe’s biggest critics but you need cannot do a Pronger = Brossoit + Horak as there were multiple transactions and significant time in between.
      Otherwise, Holmgren’s trade of Lupul + Sbisa + 1st pick of 2009 + 1st pick of 2010 = Ryan Dingle seems 1000 times worse. Ryan who? Of course the return was Ryan Dingle + Pronger, but since Pronger is no longer playing, the trade today looks like just Dingle as the return. Criticism of Lowe is more than deserved and fair, but let’s not exaggerate and water down the justifiable reasons.

      • BringBackSlats

        That’s fair enough… You make a good point about Lupul too. Too bad he wasn’t the player then that he transformed into after his health issues 3 yrs ago. I’ll never get over the Pronger trade though, and there can never be any justifiable reason as to why it happened and for the players it involved.

        • Randaman

          What part of Pronger forcing the Oilers to trade him don’t you understand. Plain and simple he wanted out or should I say his wife demanded out! Kevin Lowe had no choice so he took what he could get at the time. I don’t like Lowe either but try to understand the facts of the situation before crucifying somebody.

          • BringBackSlats

            Oh really? So you sign a player to a big money deal and he wants out. Ok fine. Doesn’t mean you have to take the first bad offer that comes your way and eat it. If Pronger was up to extra marital business here and ticked off his wife then too bad pal. We’ll trade you when it makes sense to do it, and until then shut up and play hard.
            It’s just yet another case of poor management, trades, and personnel handling. I suppose you would agree with how he handled the Souray situation too? What a joke. And then you wonder why we have a bad Rep among the players in the league?
            So what you’re saying is that was a good deal he made then? Just curious.

          • pkam

            There were 2 comparable trades since the Pronger trade.

            1st, Heatley was traded to the Sharks. What did the Sens get? Milan Michalek (a 6th overall), Jonathan Cheechoo (a 2nd round pick), and a 2nd round pick.

            2nd, Rich Nash was traded to the Rangers. What did BJ get? Artem Anisimov (a 2nd round pick), Brandon Dubinsky (another 2nd round pick), Tim Erixon (23rd overall), and 2013 1st rounder.

            What did we get for Pronger? We got Lupul, who was a 7th overall. Smid, who was a 9th overall. A 1st round pick in 2007, a 2nd round pick in 2008, and a conditional 1st round pick in one of 2008/2009/2010.

            To me, Lowe did better than the Sens and the BJ.

          • Randaman

            I completely agree that Pronger made his own bed and should have been dealt with in a different manner but then the leader in the dressing room is pissed off. What good would that have done. I agree that Lowe is an idiot. Comrie and Souray were completely his fault and cost the team big time. His ego is killing the reputation of how the Oilers handle their players and staff for that matter.
            Maybe we could have gotten more for Pronger but we have bigger problems going forward than Pronger. Lowe has cost this team at least four years in terms of development, attracting free agents, etc.
            I’m on your side here with minor differences

    • pkam

      Isn’t it Lowe traded Eric Brewer, Jeff Woywitka and Doug Lynch for Pronger?

      Didn’t Lowe get Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Šmíd, a 1st round pick in 2007, a 2nd round picks in 2008, and a conditional 1st round pick for one of 2008/2009/2010 for Pronger? And didn’t we drafted Jordan Eberle with that conditional 1st rounder in 2008?

      So at the end, we get Eberle, Broissoit and Horak for Eric Brewer, Jeff Woywitka and Doug Lynch. That is a bad trade?

  • wiseguy

    Oil need to do whatever it takes to get Ismael-Diarby from Nashville and draft Ritchie from Peterborough. I would pick RITCHIE first overall before Burke gets a shot at him! 18 6.3 235lbs skates, hits ,scores, FIGHTS…. will be the best POWER FORWARD in the NHL within 5 years! Are you listening MacT????? Diarby good defensively, super tough, punishing hitter, great fighter 6.5 225 19 years old! Are you listening MacT???? Wakie, wakie….. you should hire the Wonger as a scout…..I’ll work for free the first year!!!!

  • S cottV

    Anything can happen in a tournament format, but I wouldn’t be all that concerned about how good the USA looks or how somewhat shaky Canada looks.

    Canada is facing some minor adversity and that will probably work in our favor. Canada is certainly due and my money is on them peaking at the right time.

    Babcock is going to have to pick the go to guys and up their ice times a bit more. That will get guys like Crosby and the others that he picks, in a more familiar rythm.

    • Randaman

      Tell me what type of offence they have faced up to this point. Thought so.
      USA 4 Canada 2
      Not that I hope for that score but they have given me no reason to believe.

      • Spydyr

        Finland just sent the Russians out of the tournament.They got owned by Canada scoring one goal.I’m watching the States Czech Republic game.The Czech goalie is letting in some pretty weak goals.

        3-2 Canada.

  • pkam

    Where’s DSF? Kessel vs Hemsky head to head and Hemsky scores twice as many goals as Kessel. Single game Hemsky wins so by DSF logic Hemsky is the better player. Facing elimination Hemsky had 3 goals in 2 games. 1 goal in 1 game for Kessel. Let’s see how Kessel does against canada defense…

    • BobbyCanuck

      Glad you feel that way about Hemsky, I think he increased his trade value considerably due to his performance at the Olympics, lets hope some Eastern teams take notice of his play

      what is a DFS?

  • pkam

    @anon

    I work with children with Down syndrome and do you know what parents of children with trisomy 21 find the most irritating and offensive? When people call it down’s syndrome. Down was credited with describing the constellation of symptoms seen in children with Down syndrome he never had the condition himself. It’s Down syndrome as Jason pointed out. Not doune either. Saying a child has down’s really irks some parents. And Jason while I trust that the intent was not offensive, the icon in the bottom right from “all dumb.com” could certainly be perceived as such by someone looking at that image, no?

    • BringBackSlats

      Well put.

      The man has a point Jason, if you want to justify that you meant no harm, then edit the alldumb.com from the pic. That’s why people are getting offended.

    • Jason Gregor

      I picked the picture out of the Nation pool of pics, and to be 100% honest I never even noticed the website at the bottom. I saw his outfit and nunchakus and felt it was a great fit.

      It was an honest mistake not seeing the small pic in the bottom. If people actually think I would make fun of kids with Down Syndrome they haven’t been paying attention over the years.

      People can always find something negative if they wish, and that is fine, but I never saw that logo when I uploaded the pic.

      • Jason Gregor

        I did not imply that you meant to be offensive. I just stated why people could be offended, and I wouldn’t have noticed it either if not for the post about it to begin with.

  • camdog

    Anybody catch the shot of the Team Canada brain trust following the game. The only guy that was excited was Krueger. Lowe looked like he does when he watches the Oilers play.

  • bazmagoo

    Canada is taking a page out of Muhammed Ali’s playbook, a little rope a dope. Gonna bring our ‘eh game on Friday and beat the Amuricans in a shoot out. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!

  • BobbyCanuck

    Cannot wait for tomorrow’s game. At the risk of being flamed and hated, I just need to ask one thing. On many hockey boards Team Canada fans are always going on and on about how we could ice three teams and they would win Gold, Silver and Bronze.

    Does the collective feel the same today, or have they decided that Canada’s best is no better or only marginally better then other teams best?

    Trash= Canada could indeed ice three teams to take all the prizes

    Props= Perhaps we are not as good as we think we are

  • james_dean

    Everyone knows you werent being cheeky with the pic.

    You do enough charity work to get a free pass.

    To all the nancys that have a problem with it, get over yourself and grab a brain.