Wednesday, January 25, 2006
3 weeks from today Canada plays Italy in Olympic mens’ hockey at the Palasport Olimpico in um, Italy (You say Turin, I say Torino. Turin, Torino, Torino Turin. Let’s call the whole thing off.) It’s a 7am start. I like that. It’s one of the few times we can actually follow game action during the morning show.
Because I’m a worrier, I’m concerned about Canada’s draw and the playoff format.
Canada is in Pool A with the Czechs, Italians, Finns, Germans and Swiss. It’s a relatively easy pool, with the top 4 round robin performers advancing to the quarterfinals. Getting through will be a snap. However, depending on your finish, you have to take on a very good opponent in the sudden death quarterfinal.
Canada will crossover and play the B Pool’s best - Russia, USA, Sweden and Slovakia -in the quarterfinal. All very good teams. Most people would pre-rank Slovakia as the worst of the four and, thus, the team you’d most want to play in the sudden death quarterfinals.
Easy pickings? Think again.
Slovakia's offence is outstanding, boasting the likes of Marian (Atlanta) and Marcel Hossa (Rangers), Marian Gaborik (Minnesota), Michal Handzus (Philadelphia), Miro Satan (Islanders), Pavol Demitra (Los Angeles), Peter Bondra (Atlanta), Ladislav Nagy (Phoenix) Jozef Stumpel (Florida), and hot rookie Marek Svatos (Colorado).
On the blue line, six foot-nine-inch Zdeno Chara will be joined by Lubomir Visnovsky (Los Angeles), Radoslav Suchy (Columbus), Ivan Majesky (Washington) and Milan Jurcina (Boston).
Slovakia generally sucks in goal but now they have Colorado Avalanche backup Peter Budaj.
That’s not as good as Canada’s roster but still good enough to win a one game showdown with a lucky bounce or two. We knew Canada would have some very tough, one game, sudden death situations. I just didn’t figure they’d come as early as the quarterfinals.
Posted by Steve Warne at 1:57 PM