Price is Right for Gold

Feb 22, 2014 by

Price is Right for Gold

In perhaps the most dominating 1-0 victory I have ever witnessed between two elite international hockey teams, Team Canada was impressive in defeating the US in their Olympic semi-final match.  One game for Gold and one has to like their chances to beat Sweden on the final day at the Sochi Olympics.  At times they have had difficulty scoring and scared the bejesus out of 35 million fans in their quarterfinal match against lowly Latvia, scoring a late goal to narrowly win 2-1, but they have dominated each opponent thus far.  Sure they played hockey weaklings like Austria and Norway, but they have also played Finland and an impressive USA team.  In each game there was never a doubt that Canada was the better team from the defence out.

With a roster loaded full of top NHLers Sweden plays a stifling defence and with the world-class goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist at the helm, they will be a tough opponent for Canada. Sweden plays the type of low-risk style that will be problematic and frustrating, but unless Canada gets an unlucky bounce or has an emotional letdown after defeating their hated US rival, based on their play thus far they should defeat Sweden.

The only other way Canada can lose this game is if Carey Price crumbles under the pressure of playing in his first ever Gold medal game or if he gets outdueled by one of the games greats.  Goaltending does appear to be the “x” factor for the Gold medal game. Lundqvist is among the NHL’s elite goaltenders and has already won Gold in Turin in 2006 and is second in all-time Olympic victories with 12 only 4 behind the great Vladislav Tretiak.  Price doesn’t have Lundqvist’s pedigree or international experience, but he has risen to the occasion thus far.  If Canada should win Gold this will be perceived as Carey Prices coming out party, but regardless of the final result he has already proven that he was the right selection to be Canada’s starter and could be for years to come.

Prior to the tournament the lone uncertainty about Canada’s formidable line-up was their goaltending, but as Price has proven this team has no weaknesses.  Price has silenced his critics and those who questioned the overall goaltending prowess of Canada heading into the games.  Giving up only 3 goals in 4 games, while yielding a .963 save percentage, Price has been solid and at times spectacular especially against the US.  He doesn’t have the experience of Luongo, but his composure in net has a settling influence that very few goalies in the league can provide.  His stoic nature is exactly the type of calming leadership this team needs to win Gold.  He may not have Lundqvist’s experience, fashion sense or great hair, but having played his whole career in Montreal he understands pressure and the importance of the Gold medal game not only to his teammates but to his country.  The pressure sits on squarely on his shoulders tomorrow, and there are plenty of naysayers who would love nothing more than to be given an opportunity to be critical of this young goaltender.  As a fan of the game and as a Canadian and former goalie, here’s hoping a new legacy is born and as a nation we can finally put to rest the question about the quality of Canada’s goaltending.

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