Team Canada was the main source of many an Olympic hockey narrative throughout the games. The Gold Medal Game put a dagger through each and every one of them.
Was Carey Price the right starter for Team Canada?
Carey Price backstopped shutouts of the competition in the Semifinals against the Americans and in the final game against the Swedes. Gold medal winning goalie Roberto Luongo remained on the bench for those games. After spending this season being hung out to dry by the porous defensive schemes of the Montreal Canadiens, Carey Price was exactly the right guy for the job. He was tested and he had the answers for every attempt no matter whose skilled hands were working against him.
Why was Canada failing to score?
Jonathan Toews deflected a Jeff Carter shot for the game and gold medal winning goal against Sweden. Two more goals after that showed that the Canadians could score when they opened up their offense a bit. Their defensive strategy against high powered offenses like that of the Americans may have stymied their goal production a bit, but the plan worked.
Where was Sidney Crosby?
Crosby did not have a goal coming into the final game of the Olympics. Many wondered if his line mates were the problem or if he was just too "hard to play with" whatever that means. Crosby netted the second goal against the Swedes putting an end to that speculation.
Who should have held down the blue line for Team Canada?
Many, including me, openly mocked Team Canada for leaving P.K. Subban in the press box for much of the Olympics. Mike Babcock chose to play Jay Bouwmeester and Dan Hamhuis, both of whom are widely regarded as less skilled players than Subban. There was speculation that Subban has been nursing a lingering injury for the past few months. Perhaps injury had something to do with Babcock's player selection, but what he had on the ice worked for the most part. The highly skilled defensemen ate most of the time on ice. Bouwmeester's shot from the point that was tipped in by Jamie Benn provided the only goal against the Americans in the Semifinal. While Bouwmeester may have left something to be desired on the defensive end of the ice, his penchant for activating into the offense worked in Team Canada's favor. Maybe P.K. Subban would have provided more offense, but his omission did not cost Canada a medal.
What was Chris Kunitz doing on the Olympic roster?
It was fairly clear to hockey fans of all nations that Kunitz ended up on Canada's roster due to the fact that he plays on Sidney Crosby's line for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Kunitz is a good hockey player, but obviously not as talented as some of the other options available to Team Canada. Chemistry with Crosby was likely the driving force behind his selection. Kunitz quickly drew the ire of many Canadian fans for failing to produce any offense and for taking bad and ill-timed penalties. It would seem the players for Team Canada decided to kill off every storyline they had heard from the media because Kunitz put home the third goal of the day.
The Gold Medal Game showcased the dominance of the Canadians. Their defense was too stingy and stifled every attempt at a decent offensive cycle from the Swedes. Their goalie ate every puck that came his way and hopefully for him silenced the critics who said he could not win a big game. The depleted Swedish roster particularly at center could not muster enough pressure in the offensive zone. Nicklas Backstrom was a late scratch before the game due to a migraine, but later it was suggested that he had failed a drug test due to allergy medicine that he had been taking for several years. Marcus Kruger tried his best to fill Backstrom's skates at center. He played well particularly in the first two periods of the game, but his wingers could not find their way around Carey Price. Kruger, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya killed out penalties for the Swedes as all expected they would. Henrik Lundqvist continued to play well, but there are only so many breakaways against the likes of Toews and Crosby that a goalie can be expected to repel no matter how elite his talent.
Team Canada brought home the Gold for their country again and their fans breathed a collective sigh of relief.