RICK MACDONNELL, SnowSeekers Inc.
It's a slippery slope that Team Canada was on. The loss to the Americans on Sunday was a shock to the system, for sure, despite the fact that the Canadians carried the play for the majority of the game, and were the victim of some shaky goaltending in their own end and some stellar goaltending in the other.
The Canadian men are the most stacked team in the entire tournament (sorry, Russia, but you have nothing on Canada, depth-wise), and were expected by many to roll into the gold medal game.
A narrow victory over the Swiss and a loss to Team U.S.A. has shaken the team's confidence. One might think that their anxiety would transfer over to their fan base, but based upon the reactions from the crowd at Whistler's Brew House, the Canadian fans are already looking forward to a Wednesday match-up against Russia in the quarterfinals.
"I'm expecting nothing less than a 6-2 victory," said Mike O'Donnell, a native of New Brunswick who's lived in Boston for the past 20 years, where he attended Northeastern University and played varsity hockey and baseball.
"There's not a single player on the German team that would make me think twice about a Canadian victory."
Most of the onlookers were seeing the game as a tune-up for Russia, their only worry being that Canada might not beat Germany by enough. That, and the performance of goaltender Roberto Luongo, who wouldl replace Martin Brodeur, who's uncharacteristically poor performance has effectively moved him to the bench for the remainder of the Games.
Bobby Lou, as the Vancouver fans lovingly refer to Luongo, will likely ride the Olympics out as Canada's starting goaltender, a position that many fans thought he deserved from the beginning.
"Brodeur was handed the starting job because of his reputation, not because of his talent," said Chris Munro, who, along with Dave Munro, comprise Spy vs. Spy. The band played to the Brew House crowd prior to the game.
"Luongo is the better goaltender, he's younger, and he's playing to his home crowd (Vancouver)," Munro continued. "Now that he's been handed the reins, so to speak, I feel much more confident."
Regardless of the goaltending situation, most fans were in agreement that what Canada needs more than anything is a good thrashing.
"What they really need is to go out there and hand the Germans an 8-0 loss, or something like that," O'Donnell said. "They need to get the offense going, get their confidence back, and feel like they have a goalie back there that'll stop pucks when they need him to."
Heading into a quarterfinal against the Russians, the Canadians would definitely need their edge back. It seems like they've lost that swagger, that belief that they're the best team on the planet.
They'll need that back if they hope to challenge the Russians in the potential game tomorrow.
"If the Crosby line gets going, we'll be all right," Munro said.
The question is: what if it doesn't?
Stay tuned to www.snowseekers.ca/olympicnews for daily blogs, videos and more throughout the Olympics.
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