Martin Brodeur's 'blek' face at the net welcomes you!
All of the men's Olympic hockey teams took to
GM Place er, Canada Hockey Place, for their first and only practices as a team.
But who cares about the other countries when Canada's in the pot!
If anyone wasn't paying attention (you better have a good excuse), Canada's coach Mike Babcock announced on Monday that the starting goalie against the Norweigians would be Roberto Luongo. Why? Because 1) he knows the boards better than anyone on that team, 2) he's the hometown favourite and will have many fans cheering him on, 3) he got the net all to himself in practice on Monday, and 4) he's been the hottest of the three, albeit none of them have been all that amazing.
It's also been found that Coach Babby will start Martin Brodeur for the game against the Suisse. After their two performances, the coaching staff will head to the drawing room and decide on a starting goalie against the Americans.
Starting goaltenders weren't the only news from
GM Place Canada Hockey Place (sorry, old habits die hard). Ryan Getzlaf was also a big headline. Just a few days ago, Getz suffered an injury that appeared to be one that could sideline him for at least 4 weeks! Instead, it was just a sprain and lasted a couple of days. Freak of nature! How do you heal that quickly? On the final day of NHL games before the Olympic break, Getzlaf played the game and got 3 points out of the Ducks/Oilers game. That was enough for Yzerman to decide he was healthy enough to play in the Olympics.
A question about TOI (time on ice) came up. Babcock said that the numbers that these players would normally clock in the NHL would not happen here. Each line will get about the same amount of ice time if they play well.
Now, the lines. Of course, the Sharks line-up of Heatley-Marleau-Thornton will not be split up. Would you split a line up that has been doing so well?
Who would be the ones to wing centerman Sidney Crosby? Well, former WJC (World Junior Championship) linemate Patrice Bergeron is one, the other is Rick Nash. The young talent-loaded line. Kind of like the Sharks-line - only younger and more sniper-licious. Yes, I said it!
Next line would be centered by Ryan Getzlaf. To his right would be teammate Corey Perry, and to his left will be Eric Staal.
A bit of shocker to some people (namely me), the pair of Iginla and Morrow was centred by Jonathan Toews, and occasionally Mike Ricahrds.
But what of our blueline? Who'll be the shut-down pair, PP pair, and/or PK pair? I'll tell you that some of these combinations were quite interesting to find. Babcock and his crew had paired up a couple of youngin's/rookies with veterans. Drew Doughty had the honour of working the blueline with Chris Pronger; Scott Niedermayer took Shea Weber under his wing; and the Blackhawks pair were stuck together, sometimes being changed with Dan Boyle.
I found these line combinations quite interesting, but I see where Babby is going with all this. Let me start with the defence:
By pairing Niedermayer and Weber, they have a very big, solid, shut-down pair. Though I would much rather have Pronger and Weber together (did you see the WC in 2009? THEY WERE MONSTROUS!), I don't feel much different with the current pairing. With the Captain, you get experience, wisdom, and shut-down defence. With Weber, you get a young, intelligent defenceman, who may not rack up the points, but knows how to keep that +/- on the good side.
In the Pronger/Doughty pair, you get a solid and strong blueline presence, but also a scoring threat. And you can't majorly go wrong with Prongs at the blue! Enough said.
With the Chicago + Morrow pair, you get youth, speed, aggression, and some scoring possibility up at the blue. (Notice a trend? Scoring from the blue...?)
Forwards: you ain't breaking up that Sharks line so we'll not speak of that.
Bergy and Sid had instant chemistry at the World Juniors, and Nasher is just very mouldable. It's a line with great sniping ability and everytime that line will hit the ice, there is the possibility of anything.
Iggy-Toews-Richards is a good 3rd/4th line. Maybe they won't rack up the points like the forementioned lines will, but they can produce. All three of them being good with going to the net, working down low, and making those precision passes.
Staal-Gretzky-Perry is not as glamourous as the other three, but they are very threatening. Look at what Gretz and Perry do at Anaheim! Add Staal into the mix, and it's bound to get spicy!
Seeing these lines, the coaches have dispersed scoring everywhere on the map. Entied with the scoring, these lines can kill penalties. The big, agile bodies are good producing scoring chances, win the down-low battles, push back the offence, and dominate the PP. Include the puck-movement skills of Marty Brodeur (not so much Louie) and we've got a killer combo!
PICTURE TIME! Creds go to Daylife.com
Smiley Brodeur makes me smile!