Tag Archives: jonas hiller

No Worries. Shootout Win is Hardly the End of the Games.

In the end, they won. Team Canada, beat the Swiss 3-2 in a shootout in their second game of the 2010 Winter Olympics Thursday night and avoided a potentially embarrassing scenario.

Not surprisingly, for many Canadians this was a traumatic experience, but if you stop and think about it, it’s par for the course. Even when the Canadians won gold in 2002 in Salt Lake, they didn’t rip it up early in the tournament. In fact, Canada was lucky to qualify for the quarterfinals after losing 5-2 to Sweden, sneaking out a 3-2 win over Germany and tying the Czechs 3-3. Then Canada barely beat the Finns (2-1) in the quarters. However, Sweden lost 4-3 to Belarus in their quarterfinal match (the upset of the Century can happen to anybody) and Canada got a free pass (7-1) into the finals.

So on Thursday, Canada was taken to a shootout by a well-coached team with great goaltending, a team that gave the Americans a run for their money in a 3-1 loss.

Sure, on paper the Swiss team can’t match up to Canada and every number, except the one on the scoreboard, suggested they did not. Canada outshot the Swiss 46-23 and had absolute territorial control, but give the Swiss — and especially their coach — some respect. Steinbach’s Ralph Krueger, once again, did a tremendous job to convince his team to play aggressively and with abandon — especially on the penalty kill — against a better opponent. It’s what the Olympics are supposed to be (would you rather have the lopsided mess in women’s hockey?) and we should congratulate the Swiss, not rip the Canadians.

Let’s face it, Jonas Hiller, one of the best goalies in the NHL, played brilliantly, and what might have been a 10-2 blowout turned out to be a 2-2 tie. It happens. Goalies can win hockey games all by themselves.

Frankly, this just sets up the opportunity for a wonderful game on Sunday night. Canada-USA will be sensational and even though Canada is already through to the quarterfinals, this will be an important statement game against a very good opponent.

And guess what? Canada will have to watch out for Ryan Miller, the U.S. goaltender who, like Hiller, is one of the best in the game. This isn’t going to be easy.

So go get your Team Canada jersey, pop open a Coke and tune into CTV for Sunday night’s battle. I guarantee, it will be the highlight of your Olympic weekend.



Old coaches, young superstars and the best goalie in the playoffs.

As we get set to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins eliminate the Carolina Hurricanes in four straight games (barring a miracle), in tonight’s Eastern Conference final there was a boatload of hockey news today.

There was also just some stuff.

Onward:

1) Pat Quinn was hired as head coach by the Edmonton Oilers today. He’s 66. Personally, I like Pat Quinn, a lot. He’s a fine man, who did a wonderful job with Team Canada in Salt Lake City in 2002 and with our national junior team. I had a lot of respect for him when he was head coach of the Leafs and I must admit, he’s always been very respectful to me.

The question has to be in this case: Can a 66-year-old coach find happiness with a young team in Edmonton? Especially after the Calgary Flames just dumped 59-year-old Mike Keenan, another old coach, who gets recycled more than old truck tires. 

There is a difference, however. Keenan is a guy who likes “his guys.” He likes veteran players he knows and can trust. And that’s fine. Trouble is, “his guys” don’t win anymore. Quinn, however, during his time with the national junior team, proved to everyone he can teach young players how to play the game.

And that’s exactly what the Oilers need.

Age has nothing to do with anything. It’s attitude and approach that matters. Quinn might be 66, but he has already demonstrated that he respects young, enthusiastic hockey players and can take those types of players and show them how to win.

Full disclosure: I like Pat Quinn as a person. And I also believe he will be a great head coach in Edmonton.

2) Tonight, we get to watch the likes of Sidney Crosby, Eric Staal, Evgeni Malkin and Cam Ward play an extremely important NHL playoff game.

If the Penguins win, the young stars from Pittsburgh will zoom into the Stanley Cup final for a second straight year (frankly, no matter what the Hurricanes do, Pittsburgh’s offence should put a quick nail in Carolina’s coffin).

What is most interesting, however, is that whenever the media looks for a storyline involving the Pens, it’s always Sidney Crosby vs. (insert name here). Sidney Crosby vs. Alexander Ovechkin. Sidney Crosby vs. Jarome Iginla. Sidney Crosby vs. oh, I don’t know, Johan Franzen?

Unfortunately, the mainstream hockey media loves a story no matter how silly it is. If anyone is looking for a consistent storyline, it should be this one: Evgeni Malkin vs. the hockey world.

This spring, Ovechkin will likely be awarded the Hart Trophy as the regular season MVP and so far in the playoffs, Crosby has the inside track to the Conn Smythe Trophy. 

Meanwhile, all Malkin has done is win the league scoring championship and lead all scorers in the playoffs (12 goals and 16 assists). 

There was a day before all these mouth-breathing TV bingo callers became uber-experts, a day when scoring goals and dishing out assists was an important part of the game. And today, nobody does that better than Evgeni Malkin.

I guess he’s no Sidney Crosby (he certainly doesn’t have the same group of publicists), but he could be the Rodney Dangerfield of the NHL.

3) Of course, if Malkin isn’t hockey’s answer to Rodney D., it’s Detroit Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood.

Ozzie is close to winning his third Stanley Cup as a starter (he was also on a winner as the No. 2 to Mike Vernon). He’s also been to the finals one other time, been a Vezina Trophy runner-up and won the Jennings Trophy twice. He was the second goalie ever to score a goal (following Ron Hextall), was the No. 1 goalie (statistically) in the NHL in the 1995-96 season, is 10th in the NHL in career wins and the winningest goaltender in Red Wings history. He’s been an all-star, won Stanley Cups in two decades and is on the verge of going back-to-back.

And yet, you ask anybody in the mainstream media and he/she will tell you: “Detroit’s only problem is goaltending.”

Hogwash.

I can’t tell you how sick I am of hearing our TV experts talk of Tim Thomas this or Roberto Luongo that or Cam Ward… whatever. The best goalie in the playoffs last year was Chris Osgood and clearly the best goalie this year is Chris Osgood.

At 37, he’s never been better. Right now he leads the playoffs in wins with 11, is second in goals against average at 2.14 and fourth in save percentage at .921. He’s 11-4 in the post-season, has an assist and a shutout.

He’s often hung out to dry by his always-attacking teammates and yet he’s made some magnificent saves in this year’s post-season. He’s been tremendous.

At this stage, I don’t want to argue with the experts who believe Crosby is a shoo-in to take the Conn Smythe. But there is still a lot of hockey left.

And right now, the best goalie in the playoffs has not been Jonas Hiller, Cam Ward or Tim Thomas. It’s been Chris Osgood.



Three things rattling around in my brain…

I have a few more things rattling around in my cranium other than this, but after crunchy peanut butter and last night’s Power Ball numbers, these are the only things that would likely matter to anyone else…

1) NHL commissioner Gary Bettman gets more hypocritical every day. He says he wants to do whatever he can for his owners, but when one gets in serious trouble — like Jerry Moyes in Phoenix — Bettman throws him under the bus.

Here is the latest response by Jim Balsillie to a court filing by the National Hockey League:

HAMILTON, ON, May 14 /CNW/ – Jim Balsillie today issued the following statement with regard to NHL motions filed in a Phoenix bankruptcy court: 

   … “I can tell you this. I made a generous good faith offer to buy the Coyotes from Jerry Moyes, who I understand is the owner of the Coyotes. Who owns or controls the team is a distinction without a difference. The team itself is still bankrupt, voluntarily or not. The owner of the team has a fiduciary obligation towards the creditors.

       “My offer, which goes the furthest in satisfying creditors’ claims, is still the same. It’s $212 million to buy the Coyotes and bring them to the best un-served hockey market in the world in Southern Ontario. We look forward to discussing this no matter what the outcome on May 19th.

    “At the end of the day, this is about the passion Canadians feel for the game of hockey and a chance to provide those fans with the opportunity to support a seventh NHL team. That’s what this is all about, great hockey fans in a great hockey market.”

Sadly, Gary Bettman wouldn’t know a good hockey market or a good hockey fan if one tripped and fell over his throat.

Why Bettman hates Canada and, for the most part, hates the game of hockey, is a mystery.

2) Remember Jean-Sebastien Giguere? In case you don’t, he led the Anaheim Ducks to the Stanley Cup in 2007.

Giguere is still in Anaheim, but he doesn’t play much anymore. the hero in Anaheim is now Jonas Hiller, a guy who already has three rings — for the championship of the Swiss League, in 2002, 2005 and 2007. He’s also won two Spengler Cups with Davos.

Of course, if the Ducks win Game 7 against Detroit tonight, he just could win another ring this year. Along with a Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP.

Or, he could lose and join Roberto Luongo and Simeon Varlamov in 2009 post-season infamy.

It should be a great game tonight. 

3) Finally, in the CFL, the league announced four rule changes that were suggested by the fans in an online poll:

          a) The league’s board of governors approved moving the kickoff back 10 yards to the 25-yard line following a safety.

          b) Allowing coaches to use “wildcat” formations that would move the quarterback around, instead of requiring him to stand behind or under centre.

          c) Requiring a team that makes a field goal to kick off rather than give the receiving the team the option of taking the ball at its 35-yard-line.

         d) Giving a team a third instant replay challenge if its first two are successful.

I have no problem with any of those rules changes. I guess I’m just like a lot of fans. I didn’t think the quarterback was stuck behind centre anyway, didn’t care if a team kicked from the 35 or 25 after a safety and didn’t realize that taking the ball at the 35 or kicking off mattered that much.

My rule change remains the same: If a CFL team uses a Canadian (non-import) as its No. 3 quarterback, it can use an extra import in the starting line-up. At some point, we must — in our own league — make it worth the coaches’ while to develop Canadian  quarterbacks, just like they develop U.S. college rookies.