Friday, May 06, 2005


World Championships: Doing the Monster Nash!!!

Despite a lack of discipline and a spirited American attack, the Canadians passed their first big exam by a 3-1 score at the World Hockey Championships. I'd give Canada a C+

Rick "Monster" Nash had 2 goals and now has 6 goals and 2 assists in 3 WC games. Martin Brodeur, for perhaps the first time in his entire career, had to actually play the role of 'difference maker' as he made 34 of 35 saves and looked a lot sharper than he did against Latvia.
Writer James Mirtle thinks that Canada had it rather easy, but I'll have to disagree. Although the first two periods were relatively quiet, the Americans took advance of the Canadians' lack of discipline (such as Sheldon Souray shoving a player down right in front of the ref after the whistle had been blown) and peppered Brodeur with a barrage of shots.

James was also impressed with Dan Boyle, while I was impressed with American defenseman Andy Roach; A player I had championed in a post last year (#3 on the list). Roach had 6 shots in the game, and showed a glimpse of the offensive talent that killed Slovakia in last year's tournament.

Back to Rick Nash, who is just dominating this tournament... If there is a young player I'd want to build my team around, Nash is near the top of the list. In terms of players I'd want to watch, Nash is almost at the very top.

Watching him drive to the net like a bull, scoring goals with defenders hanging onto him for dear life, is a real treat. I know we have a similar player here in Vancouver in Todd Bertuzzi, but I could do without the prickly personality and propensity to flip out like a ninja.

After a pretty solid and balanced junior career, Rick Nash has really turned into a "Cy Young" goal scorer (which we haven't had since Petr Bondra's best days). Nash won the Rocket Richard Trophy with 41 goals in 2003-04, and then played the same role with Davos, this season, with Joe Thornton playing the role of Adam Oates. Nash had 27 goals in 44 games for Davos, and it's only a matter of time before Nash reaches the 50 goal mark whenever the NHL returns.

If Tim Kerr or Dino Ciccarelli could give Nash pointers on Power Play goal scoring, then perhaps a 60-goal season is in the cards!

Excuse the hyperbole, but it's been a while since I've actually been this excited about watching a player. Sidney Crosby just doesn't do it for me, yet, while Gilbert Brule and Phil Kessel *could* do that in the least Nash has done it against the world's best.

Alan Adams profiles Nash a bit more in depth in this article.

And a laugh-out-loud quote from American Doug Weight: "He's a great player. The top three players now are him, Mike Modano and probably (Jaromir) Jagr, I think."

Ahh yes, the same Mike Modano that had a whopping 44 points in 76 games with a -21 rating in 2003-04, and didn't even play pro hockey this season.

Looking around the tournament, the Czechs have been doing a great job defensively, but have really done 'just enough' against teams in their rather weak pool. With 6 goals for and 1 goal against in 3 games, and Jaromir Jagr fighting through a broken finger, the Czechs look like they are trying to slow the game down as much as possible, which is strange given their highly talented roster.

Czech Coach Vladimir Ruzicka was a very offensive-minded player, which makes it rather strange to watch him coach with such an eye to defence. Of course, Ruzicka won gold in Nagano with the Czech team that won based on a 'trap-and-let-Hasek-save-our-butts' he knows what works.

The tournament's most positive surprise? Evil Sweden! 15 goals for and just 3 against in 3 games...without Forsberg, Lidstrom, and Sundin.
I'm also giving a nod to the tough-as-nails Ukrainian squad. They went just 1-2, but fought hard every game and gave the bigger teams fits. A 5-8 GF-GA ratio is pretty good by Ukrainian standards.

On the flip side, the Germans have been shockingly bad with a 0-3 record and a 2-9 GF-GA ratio. The Germans are looking rather poor heading into the relegation round. It would be a shock to me to see them relegated, but they'll need to improve offensively (which is always their weakest area).

Looking ahead in the sked as we head to the next 'round'...the Americans play the Finns today in the premier matchup. Finland hasn't been too impressive, so look for the speedy Yanks to take this one.

On the 7th (Saturday), the Slovaks take on the Czechs in a much-anticipated matchup. Look for hordes of fans to make the trek to Austria to watch this game. After skipping the game versus the Kazakhs, Jaromir Jagr will play through his broken finger against the Slovaks.
Canada will take on Sweden, and hopefully our boys slay the evil Tre-Kronor beast.

ninja's don't flip out! ninja's flip about.

1. Ninjas are mammals.
2. Ninjas fight ALL the time.
3. The purpose of the ninja is to flip out and kill people.

You obviously haven't been to The Real Ultimate Power ;)
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