Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Final Game of 2004 - Finland vs Canada

Well here it is folks, the final hockey game of 2004. Finland vs Canada for the World Cup of Hockey. It will be hard to top the emotion and excitement of Saturday's semi-final game, that game will go down as a classic. Tonight's game may not be as exciting, but there is still a lot on the line. The Finns have nothing to lose in this one, they are already national heroes back in Finland. Meanwhile, Canada has the weight of a nation on their shoulders...

The Canuck Fan's Five Keys to the Game.

  1. Canada must shake "the nerves" early and start playing their game. Versus the Czechs, Canada was sloppy for the entire first half of the game and never really recovered. The young guys like Brad Richards and Scott Hannan must handle the pressure better.
  2. Canada must forecheck hard. The Finnish defense is very good at moving the puck quickly, however they have a weakness in this part of the game. Mikka Kiprusoff is not a very good puckhandler. Canada has to exploit this weakness by dumping the puck in and forechecking hard.
  3. Get traffic in front of Kiprusoff. Talk about stating the obvious. We all know what Kiprusoff can do, however he isn't unbeatable. When Kiprusoff can't see the puck his ability to control his rebounds is greatly reduced. Guys like Ryan Smyth, Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton and Jerome Iginla have to go to the net as often as possible.
  4. Be patient. Canada has to approach this game like their quarter-final match-up against Slovakia. They must remain patient and stick to the game plan. The Finns are going to trap, trap, trap. The game is likely to be very tight checking. Canada has to avoid the urge to open things up and take chances. Stick with the game-plan and eventually the goals will come.
  5. When you have an opportunity to clear the zone, you must get the puck out. This was nearly the undoing of team Canada in the semi-final. The wingers must help out their defensemen, they cannot start cheating out of the zone, yes I'm talking to you Mario.

If Canada can do those five things they will win. Yes the Finns have a guy by the name of Kiprusoff, but hey guess what? We happen to have the best goaltender in the world. Martin Brodeur, even at 80% is going to be extremely difficult to beat, especially for a Finnish team that has trouble sustaining offensive pressure. Brodeur's puckhandling ability alone is going to be a huge challenge for the Finns.

And finally here are a couple things to be thankful for, on what is most likely the last hockey game we will see this year:

We will not have to hear Greg Millen gushing over Kiprusoff every thirty seconds, the Americans cannot win, the Leafs aren't playing, and finally, we shouldn't have to hear Gretzky's daughter sing our National Anthem as if it were an audition for American Idol.

Enjoy the game and GO CANADA GO!!!

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