In the 2nd installment of Canuckz.com’ s 2010 Olympic hockey tournament preview, we’re taking a look at the team that’s opening their orientation camp this week: Team Canada.
IIHF World Ranking: 2nd
Top players in 2010: Crosby, Iginla, Getzlaf, Niedermayer, Luongo, Brodeur
2006 Olympic Result: 7th
What’s in their trophy case? 1972 Summit Series, 1976/1984/1987/1991 Canada Cup, 2004 World Cup, 2002 Olympic gold medal
Canuckz.com’s predicted 2010 roster:
Clearly, Canada has the best depth of any of the teams in the competition. Lately it appears to be in vogue to predict Team Canada and leave out Joe Thornton and/or Dion Phaneuf. The truth is though, if not Thornton, then who? I know he was disappointing in the playoffs, but lets not get silly. He wasn’t the only player to have disappointing playoffs last season (if you can call 5 points in 6 games disappointing). Somehow he’s pegged as a playoff choker and someone like Marc-Andre Fleury is pegged as a playoff hero, despite the fact that he was 8th in GAA and 9th in SV% during the playoffs. Now Thornton wasn’t amazing in the playoffs, but what about Nash (3 points and his team was swept), Iginla (4 points in 6 games and yet another first round exit), or Lecavalier (only 67 points and his team was one of the worst in the league)? Not many out there have a team missing Iginla, Nash or Lecavalier. As for Dion Phaneuf, he had a brutal season last year, but he won’t be that bad again. Look for a bounce back season for him and a spot on Team Canada to go with it.
I also think that Martin Brodeur will be the starter on this team, unless he is drastically outplayed by Roberto Luongo in the first half of the season. Both should get starts in the preliminary round.
The other hot button issue this week will be the question of who will captain Team Canada. The main candidates are Crosby, Iginla, Niedermayer and Pronger. I don’t think Crosby will be named, he’s never played in an Olympics, and putting any extra pressure on him is unncessary. Iginla makes sense, he’s well respected and will be in his 3rd Olympics. Not to mention that most of his peers think of him as the best leader in the game today. Having him as captain with their top player (Crosby) and a veteran defenceman (Niedermayer/Pronger) would be best.
So how will they do in 2010? It won’t be easy, but they have to be considered favourites along with Russia. Playing on North American sized ice should help, as should home ice advantage (although it will also add pressure). You’d have to hope that they can do better than the 7th place finish in Torino and return to the form that won them gold in Salt Lake.