Canada’s hockey teams have always been known for having skilled, hard-nosed Defense, they have also been known for having unbelievable Goaltending, the Canada’s 2010 Olympic Team will have to mirror the past; fortunately Canada has a plethora of talent of which to find the ultimate Goalie and a very intimidating Defense.
Team Canada will need Goaltenders that are skilled, mentally tough, and agile, Canada will also need defensemen with speed, agility, power, skating ability and toughness; with that in mind, which players have the best shot at landing on Team Canada’s Defense?
Nobody has been as consistent as Martin Brodeur; year after year he leads the NHL in almost every category. 2008/09 saw Brodeur go down early in the season with an injury, causing him to miss most of the season, that said, if Brodeur is healthy, he has to be your number one Goaltender.
All the Vesina Trophies, his All-Star appearances, Stanley Cup Victories, an Olympic Gold Medal and the ability to respond in pressure situations, and the ability to move the puck, all combine to make Brodeur my choice as Canada’s number one Goaltender.
Robbie-Lou has had an up and down year in 2008/09; he too has been injured, he too was expected to have better stats, that said, Canada will bring Luongo along in hopes that he can come up just as big as Brodeur when the chips are down.
The reality is, Canada is likely to go with whichever Goalie is hottest, if Luongo is standing on his head, he will be the No. 1 Goalie, if Brodeur outshines Luongo, Brodeur will be the number one Goalie, either way, Canada can’t lose, they are both very good Goaltenders.
Canada always likes to bring along a young stud to observe and feel the pressure of the games, in my mind Carey Price will be that guy in 2010. Sure, Price has struggled, but he plays in Montreal, a hockey hotbed, that comes with it’s own set of stresses that most Goalies never face.
Mentally, I feel he is well ahead of Marc-Andre Fleury, and Price was an All-Star this year, therefore Price gets the nod as Canada’s third Goalie.
Noticeable absences- J.S. Giguere, Marty Turco, Marc-Andre Fleury, Steve Mason.
Defense is almost always underestimated; team Canada will not make that mistake in 2010. Look for Canada to put an emphasis on puck movement, leadership, experience and toughness.
The opposition will be full of young stars, many of which have great speed and quick releases, Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Sharp, Zach Parise, Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Zetterberg, and a plethora of others all have tremendous skill, Canada will need to be prepared to deal with that speed and skill, good defense will go a long way in controlling these players.
Phaneuf has had his ups and downs this season, but nobody is questioning his overall talent. Tough, driven, competitive and a decent shot, all adds up to Phaneuf solidifying himself a spot on Canada’s blue line. Canada will look for Phaneuf to take the body and shut down the opposition’s number one line.
Wouldn’t you love to see Phaneuf and Blake play as a pair? The opposition sure as heck doesn’t, that’s why I think they would make an intimidating pair. Blake is a beast to play against; he makes life miserable for opposing forwards and brings great Veteran leadership qualities.
Blake has tons of International experience, he has been a warrior for Canada, he has won a Stanley Cup before, and he is respected throughout the League. I feel it is important for Canada to have some Veteran presence in the locker room, they need a voice and the younger players need a Veteran to lean on, Blake will fill this role nicely.
Blake is a winner; he will be an integral part of Team Canada’s success.
No need to look up his credentials, how about leading the League in Goals for and points by a defenseman?
Green is a solid player, he will bring youthful exuberance, one of the best point shots in the League, the ability to move the puck up the ice and a bit of grit. Green has scored 14 of his 18 goals on the Power Play, averages 25:30 a night in ice time and has the best shooting percentage (13.6) amongst Defensemen, Green, as they say, is a no-brainer…
Weber has had an outstanding season thus far in 2008/09. With six of his 14 Goals coming on the Power Play, Weber is another guy that can “Bring it” offensively. Known for his physical game and his tremendous hockey sense, Weber will be a valuable addition to Team Canada’s Defense.
Think the Tampa Bay Lightening would like this guy back? Boyle has had a career year in 2008/09, to date he is fourth in scoring amongst Defenseman with 39 points, 13 of them goals, is regarded as one of the best puck-movers, and averages over 24 minutes a game.
Boyle will be 34 next year, which will make him one of the Veterans on this defense corps.
Leads the League in ice-time with 27:16 minutes per game. If you are listening to the trade rumors it would seem as if every team in the NHL would love to have Bouwmeester, he’s tough, agile, one of the best skaters in the entire game, and while prone to the odd mistake, he is able to make up for that in recovery speed.
Bouwmeester might just be the best defenseman at catching the opposition after he’s made a mistake, possibly the best back-checker in the game. Bouwmeester will be here, book it!
The seventh Defenseman is a tough call, depending on the way Canada wants to go I see them selecting either Chris Pronger or Scott Niedermayer.
If they figure they need more toughness Pronger will prevail, if they want more leadership and puck-moving, and IF Niedermayer is willing to play, they will go with Niedermayer.
Either way, it’s a great pick for Canada, they are both tremendous talents, capable of playing heavy minutes and capable of performing in any role.
Noticeable absences: Brian Campbell, Dennis Wideman, Sheldon Souray, Brent Burns...
There you have it, my picks for Canada’s last defense. In all likelihood, my picks will not be perfect, but there is definitely a great template to work from here. Disagree with my picks? Got something to say? Hit the comment box and get your two cents in...