On December 30, Team Canada recently announced the Men's Canadian Ice Hockey team for the upcoming Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. A quick look at the players selected to Team Canada this year shows some major changes from the last Winter Olympics in 2006.
Rather than emphasizing experience, as was done in 2006, when players such as Shane Doan, Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St Louis, and Ryan Smyth were selected, all of them were left off the 2010 team. In their places are players with not nearly as much international experience, such as Eric Staal, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Jonathan Toews.
A good mix of experience and youth, as well as top six and checking line forwards are present in the selection of Team Canada. Canada has three top lines that should shoulder the bulk of the scoring, as well as a solid checking line with players such as Brendan Morrow and Mike Richards.
In 2006, despite a stellar start to his rookie campaign, a notable omission was that of the then 19-year-old Sidney Crosby. This year he'll be counted on to play a very important role as Canada's top center and one of three alternate captains.
If there would be any controversial selections, it would likely center around the defensemen picked for Team Canada. However, while some might express surprise at players such as Mike Green, Jay Bouwmeester, Dion Phaneuf being left off the team, it actually makes a lot of sense leaving off players who are routinely among the NHL's highest scoring defensemen.
With the abundance of offense that Team Canada will have with all of their forward lines, Team Canada will be relying on their defense to do one thing and one thing only: play defense. Accordingly, it makes a lot more sense that more "defensive defensemen" such as Duncan Keith, Shea Weber and Brent Seabrook were chosen instead.
Both Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger will try to reproduce the same success in Vancouver that they had together as defensemen in Anaheim when the Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007.
No surprise here, as Team Canada's goaltending situation has been universally predicted to be Marty Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, and someone else over all of 2009. Marc-Andre Fleury deserves this third spot as he's had a really solid start this year (22-11-1, 2.49 goals against average with a .907 save percentage though December 30).
Other Olympic hopefuls such as Cam Ward (5-13-5, 3.17 goals against average with a .896 save percentage through December 30) and Steve Mason (11-13-6, 3.18 goals against average with a .894 save percentage through December 30) have struggled this year, making Fleury the logical choice.
With such a talented group of skaters up front, no matter who is picked to be the starting goalie for Team Canada will not be required nor expected to "steal games." Rather, a talented team like Team Canada just needs a goaltender who is simply just solid in net.
Predictions for 2010:
Overall Team Canada this year seems like a balanced team. Of course, this team is going for gold and anything less would be a huge failure. With the players selected this year and with no glaring weaknesses, coupled with the fact that the Canadian team is playing in front of their home crowd, a gold medal will very likely be won by the Canadian men's ice hockey team in February 2010.
Team Canada (http://www.ctvolympics.ca/hockey/news/newsid=24276.html?cid=rsstsn )