Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Sit Down With The NHL Insider


No, unfortunately Stevie P will not be featured in this blog post as he is no longer the NHL Insider here at SportsInformer.com. He has been replaced by a man that defies all logic when it comes to hockey knowledge.

His name is Bryan Cruse. He went through a prolonged period of unemployment and chose to use his free time to learn everything there is to know about hockey. Yet he is still a Leaf fan, go figure.

Today he and I had a long conversation about the roster that was announced today for Canada's Mens Ice Hockey team that will be playing in Vancouver in February of 2010. Steve Yzerman is the General Manager of the team and had a tough job picking from such a deep talent pool. A lot of guys were left off the team and so of course debate rages on.

Here is the conversation that NHL Insider Bryan Cruse and I had today:

SI

Team Canada's roster for Vancouver was announced today. What was your intial reaction upon seeing the team?


BC

I was blown away. I was very happy to see that there was plethora of young talent in there and that spots were earned.


SI

The team definately is young with guys like Toews and Doughty on the roster. Any concerns that maybe they aren't ready for the pressures of the Olympics especially since the games are being held in Vancouver?


BC

None. The youngest of the young who made the team are Toews and Doughty and both are performing at unebelievable levels considering their age. They aren't going to be relied on for top line minutes on this team, unlike their club teams. This experience will be invaluable to their growth and they will both be leaders in 2014 and beyond.

The rest of the youth core comes from the 03' draft, most of whom have already established themselves as all-stars. Most of these players have Olympic, WJC, World Championship and/or Stanley Cup playoff experience. The Olympics being held in Vancouver will be an advantage, not added pressure.


SI

You don't think that playing at home and trying to win gold infront of the home fans adds any extra pressure? I mean the Olympics are supposed to be the biggest sporting event there is and this year it's in Canada and the mens hockey will be the highlight of the games. I think there is some added pressure there no?


BC

I can see why some would think that, but Canada has hosted international events before and these players have held up. I don't see a big difference between having home ice advtange in the Olympics and having home ice advantage in the NHL playoffs. Both are situations where the whole building and the whole region will be rooting for these players. Canada is just a much larger region than an NHL city.


SI

That is definately one way to look at it. Plus Toews was money in the shootout when the game was on the line in the 2007 WJC which bodes well for him.


BC

Shoot out proficiency was definitely included in the criteria when selecting players, it certainly helped Toews here.


SI

Nice segway back to the rest of the roster besides the young guys. Sso the roster came out today at noon and you’ve had some time to look it over. Give me the 1 guy who didnt make the team you would have brought if you were Yzerman.


BC

Yzerman is in a tough situation here. His moves will scrutinized up until the Olympics are over or will continue forever should they not win gold. Its easy to say " I think Yzerman should have brought...." but then who do you take that spot from? I dare not presume to know better than Yzerman. But If I had to pick, I'd bring Jeff Carter.


SI

Why? and whose spot would he take?


BC

I'd give him the spot over Patrice Bergeron. Both are right handed centremen who would probably be asked to move to wing and both are excellent penalty killers, so there is no wrong choice here. Bergeron offers more versatility, but Carter is a bigger body, a legitimate sniper (on a team that already boasts Crosby, Thornton, Getzlaf as set up men), and is a bigger threat to pot a key SHG.


SI

We talked earlier and were both pretty upset about the Bergeron pick. Hard to believe he made the team considering last year he wasn't even on anyones radar but he has come back from injury and is showing he is a legit player again and not some injury prone bust.

So good for him and the fact he and Crobsy played so well in the WJC is nice and hopefully they can rekindle that chemistry.

As for players who got snubbed we have St. Louis, Lecavilier, Brad Richards, Bouwmeester, Phanuef, Green, and Stamkos to name a few.

Give me a reason why these guys didn't make it. What was their fatal flaw when it came to selection in your mind?

BC

Its a shame the focus of todays monumental announcement is on who did not make the team. Those players were cut simply because there are only 23 spots available and Canada has too much depth. But here is why each of those listed players was not offered a spot:

St. Louis - has been used more as a setup man this year, but Canada already has several of those

Lecavalier- very low production this year

B. Richards- has looked like the Brad Richards of old lately, but he disappeared for too long the last few years, and Canada is very deep at centre

Bouwmeester- has not played a meaningful game for the better part of a decade. no one knows how he'll hold up under the pressure

Phaneuf- people feel his monster hits and offensive production can't hide his defensive inadequacies

Green- doesn't play defense. Canada might as well put one of the cut forwards like Carter at the point, but defense is for players who play defense

Stamkos - too deep at centre already and his production slowed down the last few weeks


SI

Many people complained that in 2006 the reason Canada didn't win was because of the "old guard" yet the old guard still is very much present on this team in the form of Niedermayer and Pronger. Do you feel like these guys might be a little past their primes and were only picked due to name and repuation?

I mean we have all played nhl 2010 and we all know the Russians can fly. Can these 2 keep up with the fast pace that is sure to be set by Russia and Sweden arguabley Canada's 2 biggest roadblocks to the gold?


BC

Canada is much younger and faster than the 2010 edition of the Swedes, so it shouldn't be too hard for Canada to match their pace (not necessarily beat Sweden, but can keep up with their pace).

Niedermayer's wheels are still in premier condition. Can the Russians keep up with him? Pronger though? Chris Pronger is the anti-russian. He's big, he's nasty, he's dirty and the Russians are going to hate him. But this is NHL ice. There is no dipsy doodling around Chris Pronger. On international ice, a player of his speed is less effective, but on the NHL size surface, a player of calibre is invaluable. He has a big reach and will use his frame to punish the Russians.

SI

I still think he is a liability as he takes a lot of penalties and is known to be a massive douchebag in the dressing room.

Sticking with the Russians though. Malkin, Ovechkin, Semin, Kovalchuck, Datsyk can Canada match their offense or better yet can the defensive core shut down these 5 superstars?


BC

Its very possible that Canadas top 2 lines can't match Russia’s, but a hockey team is 4 lines deep. And the advantage in lines 3 and 4 unquestionably go to Canada. Canada has an excellent, mobile defense composed of both veterans and young stars alike, that SHOULD be able to stop the Russians, but who knows if thats possible. On paper, the offense is a wash, but the Canadian defense out-classes the Russian d-corps. Thats only on paper, of course.


SI

Yeah the weakness of Russia has always been there defense.

So its obvious the Russians are the biggest threat?

What about the USA and Sweden (even though Sweden is now an older team).


BC

Of those 3 countries, the high octane Russians are the biggest threat.

The Americans are only a minor threat. They are very young and will not have a perticularly strong d-corps.Its possible, but unlikely they'll make a lot of noise. Their attempt to rally around the legend of the 1980 Miracle on Ice similarities will fail. Ryan Miller is their only chance for a medal.

Sweden has a wealth of experience and are the reigning champs. They, too, are a serious threat along with the Russians. Canada's biggest worry should be about building team chemistry. A well oiled Team Canada cannot be stopped. They need to find that team chemistry fast and players need to check their egos and play as a unit. If they can do that there are no threats.


SI

Any concerns about the goalies at all?


BC

Sure. There is more than enough talent and experience between Brodeur, Luongo and Fleury to capture gold for Canada. They need to start the right goalie though. Goalies can falter at anytime though, its unpredictable. Canadas goaltending trio should be one of the strongest at the Olympics.

Anything can happen though.


SI

The roster was named but not the lines.

How would you put the guys together?


BC

Very tough to do, but using past experiences where the chemistry has worked and including lines from the orientation camp:

Nash- Crosby-Iginla

Heatley-Getzlaf-Perry

Marleau-Thornton-Toews

Morrow- M. Richards-Bergeron

Staal


SI

As odd as this may seem I think the most pressure in on the 4th line there. Tthese guys will be respnsible for shutting down the oppositions superstars game in game out they will play against the very best players in the world and they will need to gel right away in order to be successful.


BC

The top line can relieve a lot of that pressure by outperforming other teams top lines though.


SI

That’s true but if Richards, Morrow and Bergeron can't shutdown the Malkins, Ovechkins, Gaboriks and Zetterbergs then canada will always be playing from behind.


BC

That is certainly possible. If Canada’s top line can match or out produce opposing top lines, or a goaltender catches fire, the pressure on Canada’s shut down line will be greatly minimized.


SI

Any other comments you wanna make about the roster Yzerman picked?


BC

Its a thing of beauty to look at all those names next to each other. Yzerman did an admirable job and supplied Babcock with more than enough talent to capture gold. Its up to the coaches and the players now to make it happen.


SI

You realize Yzerman will never see this and you can go ahead and throw him under the bus for picking Bergeron, Morrow, Pronger and Niedermayer.

Feel free.


BC

I'd through him under the bus if he DID NOT take Morrow, Pronger and Niedermayer. I disagree with the Bergeron pick, but I understand it and respect it. Yzerman>Me.


SI

Alright well thanks for the input. By the way one sentance to sum up the wjc so far.


BC

Dear Americans, you are so dead tomorrow, followed by whatever assclowns are after you.


SI

Perfect way to go out.

Bryan Cruse it has been a pleasure.


BC

Same to you Sports Informer.


Random YouTube Video (Selected by NHL Insider Bryan Cruse)

1 comment:

Brandon said...

Russia, Sweden, and the other countries focus on offense.. not defense. Why should Canada pick "role players" as they did in 2006?

Morrow and Bergeron are great players and can do a lot for this hockey team. But why not throw Stamkos and Carter in there who can score goals. I am not against the choice Stevie made.. but in 2006 this system failed.

Our defense should play defense and our forwards should be scoring goals. Every forward on the team is a professional and can adjust there offensive mindset when the time be to play some defense.