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McKenzie: Seeds of collapse planted in second period

Bob McKenzie
1/6/2011 12:34:43 AM
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Those 16 minutes in the third period will be forever known as 'The Collapse' but the seeds of that collapse were actually planted in the second period. That's when the Russians started to get a little bit of their mojo going and build some momentum.  They killed off a penalty early in the second period and ended up with a better scoring chance shorthanded than Team Canada had on the power play. The vaunted Canadian power play, which had been the bread and butter of this team and got them started in this game, did not generate anything in the second period, going 0-for-3. That's when the wind started coming out of the sails a little bit for Team Canada.

You could see the collapse coming visibly. All the things they did so well like getting pucks deep, putting the game on the wall, cycling down low and winning the one-on-one battles stopped happening once the Russians started to mount the comeback. All of a sudden, the Russians were emboldened by the goals they had scored. You could see how this game had completely turned to the point where Team Canada could not even function out on the ice.

When Team Canada collapses, everyone is always looking for the villain; who's the guy to point the finger at that didn't get the job done. Everyone on Team Canada can simply say it was from the goal on out. Mark Visentin didn't make a save in the third period when his team needed it, the defence in front of him started to break down and the forwards stopped moving their feet in the defensive zone coverage. You could smell the wood burning as the players were thinking where they should be and the Russian speed and skill took over the game.

I thought Team Canada head coach Dave Cameron was going to call a time-out after the Russians made it 3-2 but he didn't and the game went to 3-3. Was it a critical difference in the game? Perhaps, but as the game unfolded from there, the Canadians still had a chance to win. Cameron called the time-out at 3-3 and the team had no response whatsoever but let two more goals go in so would it have made a difference? We'll never know but I thought they would have called a time-out at 3-2.

People are going to look at this and say, what about the coaching? But this was a very well-coached, very well-prepared team until the collapse happened in the third period. Then when it fell apart, every single wheel on the bus came off at the same time. Up to that point in time, this was one of the better-coached, better prepared Team Canada's that I have ever seen at a World Juniors. That's a small consolation now.

With the loss, Brayden Schenn's accomplishment gets lost in the shuffle but it shouldn't. To score as many points as he did and tie Dale McCourt for the most prolific World Junior tournament by a Canadian is really something. It's all the more remarkable because he was beat up and beat up badly. He did everything for Team Canada and played through a lot of pain. You can't say enough about Brayden Schenn, who played for the Los Angeles Kings, the Manchester Monarchs and the Brandon Wheat Kings this season before joining Team Canada.

Bob McKenzie

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