Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Canada stakes a silver at Worlds

Ask any Canadian hockey player and the usual answer is that there is no medal than gold when it comes to international play. Such is the desire to win and ultimate disappointment when you don't that Canadians carry into championship games when national pride is on the line.

So, one suspects that the flight home from Switzerland for Canada's 2009 representatives will be a long one, though a hard fought two to one loss shouldn't really be considered to harshly by those on the front lines.

Canada played an old rival on Sunday for the World Championship and despite out shooting their Russian opponents and taking the bulk of the play to them for the majority of the game, it was the Russians who at the end of the day were collecting the gold medals.

In another one of those barn burner games that seem to flourish whenever Canada and Russia get together, the tide certainly seemed to be going Canada's way, if not for the fact that putting a puck behind Ilya Bryzgalov.

The Coyote goal tending who on some nights in the NHL couldn't stop a tumble weed blowing down the rink, suddenly channeled Jacques Plante and shut down one of the most offensive units Canada has sent to a World championship. Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, Steven Stamkos all had their chances, only Spezza would score, but once and not enough to win.

The Russians won their back to back world championship despite the almost sacrilegious sight of playing the majority of a game sitting on a lead, refusing to take chances and retreating into almost as fine a defensive shell as Jacques Lemaire could draw up. It was something rarely seen by a Russian team, one almost it seemed afraid to open things up lest the Canadians get some wind in their sails.

In the end it proved to be the right strategy for the game, even if the vision of fancy passing Russians of days gone by seemed banished for good.

The championships were the final tournament of note before the Vancouver Olympics, many of the players in uniform this past month will be spectators for those games, the NHL sending the biggest stars off to play for their countries.

Some however will have played their way onto that roster for 2010, bringing with them a little extra push to exact some revenge on the gold medal that got away...

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