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McKenzie: No excuses for Team Canada in loss to USA

Bob McKenzie
1/3/2013 10:17:50 PM
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First off, there are no excuses for Team Canada. This is a lockout year, so that means Canada had its absolute best players available and didn't get the job done. It's inconceivable that two years in a row they would lay an egg like they did in the semifinals, and this year was even worse because there was no glorious near-comeback.

So this one is on everybody, from head coach Steve Spott and his staff, to every man in the lineup. That certainly includes Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He's the best junior age player world and he had a marvelous tournament prior to this game, but he didn't have it Thursday. Then there was the number one defence pair - Scott Harrington and Dougie Hamilton - on the ice for that first American goal. It looked like a fire drill. The defence was breaking down all over the place. Then there is Malcolm Subban, giving up four goals on 16 shots. Was he the only reason - no, not at all. The offence had so many shots and kept missing high and wide.

There wasn't any area of the game that Canada executed well. They didn't have any jump, they didn't have any emotion from the get-go, and while they tried to make a comeback in the third period it was not to be.

Bad puck management was a big problem. We mentioned in the pre-game that Canada had to move the puck well; they had to get pucks deep, play below the goal-line and put pressure on the American defence. Instead, the Canadians made turnover after turnover and created all kinds of offensive opportunities for the Americans.

That bad puck management really sucked the life out of Team Canada. It prevented them from gaining any momentum, and it didn't allow them to get any sense of flow. It also let the Americans to capitalize with their speed game, and Canada really looked slow. Canada has offensive players who can move the puck really well, but they didn't do it in this game.

Canada also failed to pick up the U.S. defencemen, who like to jump into the rush, come off the blueline and shoot the puck. Early on, Jake McCabe jumped up and scored a pair of goals as Canada really struggled with its defensive zone coverage and seemed oblivious to the fact that the Americans had been generating so much offence from the blueline. Collectively, U.S. defencemen have eight goals and 27 points in the tournament.

Last year, Andrei Vasilevski of Russia broke down in the third period against Team Canada and helped a furious comeback that came up just a bit short. In the third period against the U.S., there was a sense that another comeback might be coming, but John Gibson completely shut the door. This kid is a fantastic goaltender - the Anaheim Ducks have a real good one in him.

Bob McKenzie

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