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OILERS AT THE WORLDS

PREVIEW: Canada vs. Germany

Canada aims to rebound against Germany

Tuesday, 23.02.2010 / 2:15 AM / Oilers at the Worlds
By Dan Rosen  - NHL.com Staff Writer
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PREVIEW: Canada vs. Germany
No. 11 GERMANY (0-0-0-3, 0 points) vs. No. 6 CANADA (1-1-0-1, 5 points)

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 -- The answer here is easy. You need to watch everything about the Canadian team from its body language to its emotion to the goalie, line combinations, defense pairs, ice time, coaching decisions, etc.

Canada did not expect to have to play in the qualification round, but the Americans made sure of that. In the process, Team USA paved a smoother road for itself to the medal round while making it bumpy for Team Canada. A win Tuesday and the Canadians will have to play Russia on Wednesday in the quarterfinals. It's basically everyone's dream final happening two rounds too soon.

"We're playing the Germans and that's what we're going to prepare for," Canada coach Mike Babcock said. "Just like every team in the tournament, now we're all playing to survive. We understand what we're up against."

Team Reports:

 

Canada -- It's almost as if you could feel the collective psyche of a nation crumble by around 10 p.m. ET Sunday when the Americans got an empty-net goal from Ryan Kesler to seal a shocking 5-3 victory. Hockey fans across this giant land were stunned, but the Canadian team was not. Or, at least the players claimed they weren't.

In reality, Canada beat the U.S. in every which way but where it matters Sunday. The Canadians outshot the Americans, 45-23. They were dominant at points in the game. They threw just about everything they had at Ryan Miller, but the goalie was excellent and Martin Brodeur was not on the other end. That's why Roberto Luongo will start against Germany.

Canada, though, allowed the Americans to come at them maybe more than anyone thought was possible. Team USA crashed Brodeur's net and wound up with a pair of goals from right around the lower slot area, including a tip-in off Jamie Langenbrunner's skate. Canada has to play a more physical game in front of the net.

The Canadians also have to find a way to score a big goal. They have 13 goals, but eight of those came against Norway and really, that doesn't count. Canada scored twice on 46 shots against Switzerland and three times on 45 shots against Team USA.

"We're not taking that extra second to lay the puck flat and make the plays a little bit smoother," Scott Niedermayer said. "We're getting lots of shots, but the puck just isn't finding it. It's going to get better for us."

Germany -- This German team couldn't slay Belarus, so how in the world is it going to beat a hungry Canadian squad facing elimination? The answer is it probably won't unless the Germans get a perfect goaltending and manufacture some goals.

Neither goalie, Thomas Greiss nor Dimitri Patzold, were particularly good in the preliminary round. Greiss gave up 7 goals against 42 shots in losses to Norway and Belarus. Patzold allowed five goals to Finland. Greiss will start against Team Canada.

Germany's three goals were the fewest of all 12 teams in the preliminary round. It also had the worst penalty kill (60 percent on 9-of-15) and took the second most penalties. The Germans kept the shots down to a combined 77, but only Norway and Latvia gave up more than 12 goals.

However, and this is a big however, the Germans also put a scare into Sweden in the first game before losing just 2-0. Their offense couldn't produce, but the Swedes only had 21 shots as the Germans clogged up the neutral zone.

"They are going to be ready from the start and they have a lot to prove, but also they have a lot of pressure on their shoulders," defenseman Christian Ehrhoff said. "We gotta match their intensity and hopefully play as good or better than we played against Sweden."

Total NHL players on rosters: Germany 7; Canada 23.

Puck Drop -- "Adversity comes with every game every year," Canadian defenseman Chris Pronger said. "Sweden got beat 5-0 and 3-0 in two of their games in Torino, and they did pretty good for themselves after that. It's how you go as a team, how you get better and what you do with the chances you have."

NHL.com predicts: Canada wins easily, setting up a fantastic matchup Wednesday against Russia.
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