February 22, 2010
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- If Canada returns against the Germans on Tuesday with Martin Brodeur(notes) between the pipes, it will be a paramount example of nostalgic brainwashing and brand loyalty over smart hockey decisions.
He hasn't earned it. In fact, he's the primary reason thousands of Canadian fans, and tens of thousands more throughout this city, were miserable on Sunday night after being stunned by the Americans, 5-3.
It's sacrilege in some circles to place the blame on Marty; I know this better than most as a New Jersey Devils fan, where Brodeur protectionism has been running wild since 2003. But you have to divorce those emotions form this situation; heck, Zach Parise(notes) of the U.S., Marty's Devils teammate, did: "We're opposing him right now. It plays to our benefit," he said.
There's no getting around the fact that his mistakes led to three American goals in the 5-3 loss. There's no getting around that while Ryan Miller(notes) was providing the U.S. a backbone, Brodeur rendered the Canadians spineless.
Canada Coach Mike Babcock said that he'll wait until the emotions cool and check the game tape before deciding on a goaltender for the next contest, saying "tonight was a night where we'd have to like to have been better in that area."
You think, Babs?
The first U.S. goal -- 41 seconds into the game by defenseman Brian Rafalski(notes), off of Sidney Crosby's(notes) stick -- came after a faceoff in the attacking zone that was the result of a Brodeur miscommunication with his defense.
"I thought between our 'D' and Marty early in the game, we failed to execute on the first goal," said Babcock. "You'd like to have it back, but you can't. That's hockey."
The second goal at 9:15, also by Rafalski, was unassisted because Brodeur attempted to bat the puck away and didn't get all of it.
The third goal was an egregious mistake: With the David Backes(notes) line buzzing around the net, Brodeur performed a bellyflop in an attempt to push the puck out of harm's way, despite Chris Pronger(notes) being in position to make a play. He missed, ended up outside of the crease, and by the time he recovered Brodeur had a front row seat for Backes's tuck pass to Chris Drury(notes) for goal No. 3.
"[Backes] got right into the crease there and bumped me," said Brodeur. "After that, it was a puck that went up in the air and I tried to pokecheck and it just got a little chaotic there."
Brodeur passed the buck along to bad luck and his teammates after the game.
"It was a tough game," he said. "I think they got some bounces to score some goals. Had one go off my player. I made some key saves I thought in the game to turn it around, we just didn't take advantage of it. After the two breakaway saves I made in the second, I feel that maybe something's going to happen and we went on to take three penalties in a row from there."
He also asked for more scoring support. "We're throwing 45 shots at these goalies and they're making stops facing forwards, backwards, sideways. Eventually, if we keep doing these right things offensively, we'll be more successful."
Brodeur made some good saves. He was there at times when the defense failed him. But he made 18 saves on 22 shots. His save percentage was .818, which is even down from the .889 Brodeur had in his putrid pre-Olympic stretch with the Devils. His critical mistakes outnumbered his glowing moments, and that's not good enough now that we've reached the one-and-done stage.
"That's not my call, buddy," he said. "I'm here for Team Canada. I'm not here for Roberto Luongo."
One gets the feeling that, after the loss to the U.S., Luongo will be there for Team Canada. He deserves his chance.