February 18, 2010
After its 8-0 rout of Norway on Tuesday, Canada's matchup Thursday night with Switzerland could be seen as another warm-up game before facing the United States on Sunday. The Swiss, however, aren't preparing to just put up a good fight and fail. They want to channel their spirit from 2006, when they upset the defending gold medalists 2-0.
Thursday is the four-year anniversary of Paul DiPietro's two goals for the Swiss and the beginning of the end of Canada's participation in Torino. The team would lose three of its final four games in the tournament (all 2-0 defeats), including the quarterfinal loss to Russia, and finish an embarrassing seventh.
Jarome Iginla(notes) is one of five Canadian players on the current roster who played against Switzerland four years ago. Heading into Thursday night's important second round-robin game, the memory of 2006 will serve as added motivation:
"It's still pretty fresh in our minds for not only the guys who played in the tournament and played against them, but even the guys who didn't are aware. It was a tough game and tough on our confidence in terms of our scoring at the time," [Iginla said]. ...
"It was four years ago and that sounds like a long time ago," said Iginla of that Swiss miss in Turin. "But now that we're here again, it doesn't feel like that long ago.
"But I can remember how we felt afterwards," he added. "I want to beat them badly, too."
This is a better Canadian team than the one put on the ice in Torino, and Jonas Hiller(notes) was playing as well for the Ducks heading into these Olympics as Martin Gerber(notes) was for Carolina in 2006. But the focus of the team (even with the added pressure), as well as playing on home soil, will also be factors in preventing another upset and setting up a juicy game against the U.S. on Sunday.
If Canada can avenge its loss against the Swiss, the question will be: Who will own their goal for the rest of the tournament?
Martin Brodeur(notes) (in goal for the game in '06) starts for Canada on Thursday night, and the general feeling is that it's his crease to lose, despite Roberto Luongo's(notes) shutout Tuesday night. Barring any sort of disaster, Brodeur will be head coach Mike Babcock's horse to ride for the rest of the tournament, even with Babcock's reluctance to publicly announce his No. 1 choice:
"As far as what we've done so far, we started Luongo (against Norway in Canada's opener Tuesday afternoon) and he played very well," Babcock said. "And Brodeur is playing the next game. And that's as far as I've expressed anything to the media.
"I think it's very competitive. It was very competitive at the orientation camp. It was very competitive to be here. We've watched these goalies closely. And in the end, you've got to make a decision. I've done that in my own mind and we'll share that with you as time goes on."
As John Dellapina of NHL.com wrote Wednesday, Babcock has thrown praise at the older players he's coached in his career and how valuable experience is in pressure situations like the Olympic Games. Brodeur's age (37) and accomplishments throughout his career match what Babcock spoke about. Giving Luongo the opening start against Norway was nothing but a gesture of respect to allow him to play in front of the hometown city. From here on out, it's Brodeur for Canada and the hope that 2002 can be repeated.