Coming this evening – Ryan “Wales” Wagman makes his predictions for the Canadian and US men’s hockey teams for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
For the USA, Brian Burke and company will select the following team:
Jonathan Quick – more experience as a starter, although Anderson would not be an upset
If/when Martin proves unable to play, Ryan Whitney gets the 7th spot instead. The US may as well pick the injured guy and need to replace him (assuming that’s who they really want). It beats picking your second choice and boxing yourself into a corner if the guy you wanted is suddenly available and playing well. At this point, I think Martin won’t be ready, but I like Burke to take the “chance” that he will be.
Not too much exciting among the forward selections. Gomez gets snubbed as Burke takes more toughness with the last two youthful spots in Callahan and Okposo. Modano should not be representing his country at this stage of his career.
Stevie Y has a few more tough choices to make. According to me, this is what he’ll do with those choices:
Roberto Luongo – in this order
Niedermayer is overrated, but proven at the biggest stages the NHL has to offer. He makes the team. Bouwmeester is overrated but has not proven himself at the top levels, barring a few nice World Championships in ’03 and ’04. He doesn’t make the cut.
Regehr has a good chance to make it, but he hasn’t really had that great of a season, with an adjusted +/- of -1.21 while playing the opposition’s 2nd line, as his quality of competition score as currently barely above average (0.032). Drew Doughty has also been very good, but should still be seen as an underdog.
Martin St. Louis
Smyth would likely have been chosen ahead of either Down or St. Louis had he not missed so much time to injury. I am on the Jordan Staal bandwagon. Better right now than brother Eric. Like with the blueline pairing of Keith and Seabrook, Team Canada will benefit from the instant chemistry given them by the Shark line of Marleau, Thornton and Heatley. They are all worthy players having worthy seasons. This team also works from a positional balance standpoint, with 5 centremen along with 8 wingers. One possible change I could easily see occurring is for Team Canada to slot of the the centres on the wing and drop either Doan or St. Louis in exchange for Brad Richards, who has been having a wonderful season with a rejuvenated Dallas Stars team.
I look forward to your feedback.
Team Canada Postscript: I nailed the goalies (surprised?), and was 6 for 7 on the blueline. Yzerman selected the young Doughty over the Green, Mike. Not a shock, as I did think he was worthy of heavy consideration. 10 out of 13 for the forwards – I got the wrong Staal, as well as the wrong Richards. Also, I had them taking Shane Doan over Patrice Bergeron. The guess here is that Yzerman believes that Eric Staal`s early-season injury-fueled slump is an aberration, while young Jordan`s two-way play can be handled by Bergeron. Between Perry, Getzlaf and Morrow, Doan`s role as a power-forward may have been superfluous. As for Mike over Brad Richards, they may have not wanted to invite more than one player (Bergeron) who was not invited to the orientation camp in July.