Team Canada now has a long and tough journey to win Gold, and I really believe the lack of intensity and goaltending has led them to this road. Canada's forecheck has been very disappointing to see because it just lacks the speed and physicality to retrieve pucks and punish the opposing defensemen. Every forward needs to pick up the slack and really play like it's the last game of their careers to see any affect.
Another issue with Canada has been goaltending, and it has been widely publicized. As an ice hockey goalie myself, I really sympathize with Martin Brodeur and the criticism he's been getting, but he has not played well enough to warrant any praise either. Brodeur is a legend, and will go down as one of the best goaltenders of all time, but his legacy has been getting damaged the last couple of seasons. A good example would be last year's playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes. In the game that decides it all for both teams, his team had a 1 goal lead in the last minute of the game, and looked like they clinched a birth to the next round... but not only did he give up the tying goal, but he gave up the go-ahead goal for the Hurricanes to steal the game all in one minute. Those two goals were not beautiful goals either, very ugly goals that he should have stopped. This season has also been a very average season according to Martin Brodeur's standards, and it has carried through to the Olympics. He needed to make some key saves, and while he did stop 2 breakaways against the USA, the first three goals were absolute momentum killers for Canada and its fans in Canada Hockey Place. Roberto Luongo will get the starts the rest of the way, and I expect a much better performance from him in front of his home-NHL crowd. He has become the best goalie in the NHL in my opinion, and it is his chance to shine and redeem himself after game 6 against the Blackhawks last post-season.
Here are the list of players that I believe are performing very well, and players that have been disappointing so far in the three games Canada has played.
Drew Doughty- This 20 year old rock solid defensemen ate up some crucial minutes in the first three games and his poise with the puck and his defensive play has been incredible to watch. LA Kings fans are privileged to watch him night in and night out for sure. Coach Babcock and his crew could not possibly ask for any more than the quality of play Doughty has provided for the team, other than some offensive production maybe.
Sidney Crosby- He hasn't gelled with Rick Nash and all the other wingers he had to play with very well, but he has taken over to become the leader of the team. His tenacity and play with the puck is outstanding, and he has done all he can so far to make Canada proud. Points will come for him, and I expect him to light up the lamp more often than the last three games since it is do or die situations from here on end.
Chris Pronger- His leadership and experience may come in handy, but his play has been awful. The Americans did a nice job to expose his lack of foot speed and dumped and chased on his side all night long when he was on the ice. He has been a disappointment to me, and the edge he often plays with has been nonexistent so far in the tournament.
Joe Thornton- He is pulling the disappearing act once again like he always seems to do in critical games and situations. His wingers Heatley and Marleau have outperformed him so far, and I didn't like the fact Steve Yzerman picked him before, and I still don't think he should have made it based on the lack of results he has had in the post-season. He needs to wake up, because he is taking up a valuable centre position.
Corey Perry- He is the player I hate the most in the NHL, and the edge that he has in the NHL has not been in display in the Olympics either. He has to play an in your face style to make defensemen over commit to him and free up room for Getzlaf and the other forward, but he has not been able to do that either. His forecheck has been weak, and he needs to do more to be effective the rest of the way.
Brenden Morrow- Brought here to provide energy, and has not done that very well at all. He creates momentum for the team by forechecking hard and being physical, but he has been a disappointment for me. Even when he does not get on the score sheet, he is having a good game when I notice him on the ice, and he has been invisible so far. He needs to punish the opposing team more and create chances off turnovers that he is capable of creating.
So do I think Canada can still get the job done? Absolutely, but like I said earlier, they have to play with more intensity and get some key saves from Luongo to win that Gold. Anything but a Gold is a failure, and although things have been made more difficult for the Canadians, maybe it is something they needed to play at a level I know they are capable of.