It's Roberto Luongo's Time To Shine for Team Canada

Nucks IceMan@nucksiceman@twitter.comCorrespondent IFebruary 24, 2010

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 23:  Goalie Roberto Luongo of Canada makes a save during the ice hockey Men's Qualification Playoff game between Germany and Canada on day 12 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at UBC Thunderbird Arena on February 23, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Julie Jacobson-Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images

Well, maybe it wasn’t so much of a shine as a warm glow.

Germany was not supposed to supply much in the way of an opposition, having one of the lowest scoring teams in this event, and they didn’t disappoint.

Roberto Luongo didn’t see a shot on goal for the first 10 minutes of the game and saw only 23 in total.

He allowed two goals, one in the final minute of the game in which he stopped the first shot, while the other was scored on the rebound on a two on zero rush.

At the other end, it was same old, same old. Canada dominated the shot clock as was expected and has been the norm to date in this tournament. Poor Germany was used as fodder for the Canadian shooters, who were out to fill the net, and that they did with eight goals and a couple of goalposts.

This was a tune-up game for the real challenge in which Canada will play Russia. Canada has faced no other team like Russia, and its tape to tape, puck movement, ballet on ice, three lines deep in scorers.

Not even the dark horse US team has this type of depth and skill. Does the US have a good team? You bet your pretty red mittens they do, and a load of skill. But no one has an Alexander Ovechkin except Russia. Now you mix in a little Alex Semin, Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk, and the list goes on.

The defense has some puck movers that can skate with the best of them—Andrei Markov, Sergei Gonchar, Anton Volchenkov, and Sergei Zubov—and with Evgeni Nabokov or Ilya Bryzgalov in goal, you have a formidable opponent.

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Canada will have to be very cognizant of the backdoor play that the Russians love to use, with that tick-tack-toe passing, which draws the goalie over to the side and leaves him out to lunch on the other.

There was an interesting point made in the media today by Tony Gallagher of The Province newspaper. He pointed out that Luongo is susceptible to this type of play, as he does not move from side to side very well, unlike Martin Brodeur. I would second that observation, but hey Tony, the plate has been set, so let’s see if Louie rises to the occasion.

I know the Vancouver Canuck fans have been waiting for their goalie to take that next step, and what better stage than the Winter Olympics here in Vancouver to step up to the peak?

Team Canada has been building game after game, getting better, putting more pucks on net and making sure that they arrived at the same time as the puck, making the opposition's goaltender's job miserable.

I didn’t realize how good Drew Doughty was. This guy possesses great puck-handling ability along with the wheels to skate it out of trouble. He sees the ice very well, jumps up into the attack, and makes those out passes tape to tape. His offensive skills and the spin-o-rama move remind me of the great Bobby Orr.

Doughty and the other Canadian young guns (Keith Duncan, Shea Weber, and at times Brent Seabrook) have made the most impact. Now hasn’t that been a pleasant surprise?

As I mentioned after game one, these games look too fast for Chris Pronger, and Dan Boyle has had very little to add to date. Scott Niedermayer, although not the player he once was, still has that smooth skating style that gets him in and out of positions on the ice that most D-men cannot.

Ryan Getzlaf, who tweaked his ankle before the Olympics, still does not look like the same dominating guy who controls the front slot and muscles his way out of the corners with the puck. That to me is why Corey Perry is having a very quiet Olympics.

So as all of Canada gets set to find out whether this Canadian team can get past Russia, we do know that they will be better prepared than they were a couple of days ago. Knowing what I know about Bobby Lou, he plays better with a lot of shots on him, which seems to get him into the game, and Russia will make sure of that.

When he gets into “The Zone,” that could mean a promising outcome for Canada.

So here’s to Russia from Canada with love!