PREVIEW: Canada vs. Switzerland
Brodeur set to make debut against Swiss
|Martin Brodeur is expected to get the start in goal tonight for Canada
NOTE: records are presented as three-point wins (regulation time), two-point wins (OT or shootout), one-point losses (OT or shootout), zero-point losses (regulation time).
What to watch -- Martin Brodeur gets his first start for the 2010 Canadian Olympic team Thursday against Team Switzerland. It definitely was a strange sight seeing Brodeur skating around during warmups with a baseball hat on and then sitting on the bench as Roberto Luongo pitched a shutout against Norway.
If Brodeur watched Switzerland's game against Team USA, and you have to think he did, he saw a team that can counterattack if given opportunities and will pressure and swarm to the puck. Brodeur has to be expecting that from the Swiss.
As for the rest of the Canadian team, it'll be interesting to see how coach Mike Babcock distributes ice time. You would expect that he'd be diplomatic with it like he was against Norway, but that could change Sunday when the Canadians play Team USA.
"We are in Canada, where they love hockey and that's why it's so exciting for us and I think that's why we had nerves as well," Babcock said after the 8-0 win over Norway. "We're real proud of being Canadian and real proud of our country and what it has to offer. This is a beautiful city and we want to show it off to the world, but we also want to show how good we are. We are a work in progress right now. We hope to get better each and every game and we hope to be in the tournament for a long time."
Switzerland -- The Swiss should have some confidence after the way they played against Team USA in a 3-1 loss on Tuesday. They were able to create plenty of odd-man rushes in the third period against a relatively tired American team. They showed no fear despite having only two NHL players in Mark Streit and Jonas Hiller.
Mistakes were costly for the Swiss, though. And, in the second period they struggled to counterattack against the Americans and were outshot, 14-4. The Canadians pose an even bigger threat with their overall size, speed, depth and experience. The proof came in the third period of Canada's 8-0 win over Norway when it scored five goals.
"Get rid of the turnovers," Streit said. "I thought we had a couple of turnovers in our zone (against Team USA). And, we have to use our speed. We have some good players and some skilled guys that can skate. We need to take the puck wide, go to the net, work down low and try something. We have to play strong defensively, be strong on that puck, get it out and get it in. It's all the little things, but we have to do it."
Canada -- The blowout win over Norway was exactly what Canada needed to get going in this tournament on its home ice. As Babcock expected, the Canadians did not get off to the flying start that everyone predicted they would as the first period finished scoreless, but they got rolling in the second period and wound up winning 8-0.
Babcock actually found it beneficial that his team had to battle through some early adversity against Norway. He preferred that they didn't just come out and blow the doors off the Norwegians because that wouldn't test any of their mettle. They had to go into the locker room still needing a goal, and it forced them to stick with the gameplan.
"I read an article from the 2008 World Championships that talked about how spectacular Canada's penalty killing was in the third period to preserve a 1-1 tie so they can end up with a win, 2-1 (over Norway)," Babcock said. "That's reality. These teams came and it's their opportunity at the Olympics just like every other athlete and they think it's their day. If their goaltending gets hot enough and the special teams are good enough, and if they bend you early and score on the power play, you get pressured up, you pucker up and they can beat you."
Total NHL players on rosters: Switzerland 2; Canada 23.
Puck drop -- Babcock was particularly impressed with Sidney Crosby's play in Canada's opener. The Kid had three assists and found instant chemistry with Jarome Iginla and Rick Nash when the trio was united in the second period.
"I thought Crosby was really good," Babcock said. "His will tank, his determination…for me, everyone talks about his skill, but that's what I like. That's what he has to use on every shift, his will and determination."
NHL.com predicts: Canada wins going away again to set up key date with Team USA on Sunday.