In 2010 it was Roberto Luongo.
This time it’s Carey Price.
In 2010 Canada won a gold medal despite Luongo.
This time Canada is advancing toward another despite Price.
One of the reasons this keeps happening is Team Canada is good enough to make its goaltending a non-factor. No one, it seems, can get to and expose the relative hacks guarding Canada’s cage.
That has to change.
Team USA has to possess the puck and manage the puck and get pucks to the net (perhaps the first three commandments among Dan Bylsma’s Top 10) as if nothing else matters against Canada.
Team USA has to make Canada pay for its goaltending.
If it does, Team USA will be playing for gold on Sunday.
--Joe Pavelski has been having a great tournament for Team USA. But it’s still impossible to see Pavelski play or even hear Pavelski’s name and not think back to the gold medal game in 2010.
Pavelski stripped one of the Niedermayers in overtime (I think it was Sergeant-at-arms Douglas C.). Pavelski fired the puck at Luongo, who was out to lunch as usual. Pavelski hit Luongo rather than the back of the net.
It would have been, could have been and should have been The Golden Goal.
Instead, Sidney Crosby scored that a few moments later.
Pavelski won the face-off that led to Zach Parise’s extra-attacker goal that tied the game in the closing seconds of regulation.
But it’s the one that got away that resonates.
--The game James van Riemsdyk has put on display in Sochi has been worthy of a former second-overall pick (2007). The instincts and intuition, the stick-handling and the hands; what he’s done and how he’s done it will ensure that van Riemsdyk will be perceived differently when NHL play resumes.
He’s one of the reasons Team USA has been scoring at a rate that’s far exceeded expectations.
--David Backes, likewise, has grown his profile in this tournament.
But the heavy lifting for Backes has yet to be done.
It’s been anticipated since September that Backes would be hanging all over Crosby like a cheap Canadian suit when the U.S. and Canada eventually collided.
Now’s the time.
--The expectation here is Canada will play its best game of the tournament against Team USA.
If Team USA does the same against the Canadians, Team USA wins the game.