Brodeur, big line all Canada needs

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

INNSBRUCK, Austria -- Team Canada is in danger of being a one-line team with a great goaltender.

But at the moment, that's not a great concern.

As Joe Thornton put it following Canada's 3-1 win over the U.S. yesterday, "We know when Marty Brodeur's in net, if we score two goals we're usually going to win that game. And if our line keeps on scoring three goals a game, we've got a good chance of winning."

The line of Thornton, Simon Gagne and Rick Nash is easily the most dominant in the world championship so far, and proved that point again yesterday with one goal from Thornton and two from Nash.

And then there's Brodeur, who is spectacular when he's forced to be, and calm and confident the rest of the time.

"Best goalie in the world," Thornton said. "We have him in the pipes, we feel so confident that we're going to win the game, and he did it again for us."

Brodeur has won 11 of his past 12 starts as Team Canada goalie, going back to the Salt Lake City Olympics.

Canada opened the scoring in the second period when Rick Nash looked more like Steve Nash, going up for a rebound of his own shot and pulling it down with his hand. He knocked it to the ice and quickly snapped it past American goalie Rick DiPietro.

Mike Knuble tied the game on one of the many American power plays, but with the sides four-on-four, Danny Boyle sent Nash on a breakaway down the left side.

American defenceman Jordan Leopold tried to cut him off, but Nash was simply too fast and too strong. He moved back to his forehand and beat DiPietro again.

"He's so lanky, those long strides take up a lot of space out there," Thornton said. "Once he gets a couple of steps on the defenceman, watch out, because that big bum is going to come in there and you're not going to get the puck off him, so he's very dangerous."

Thornton himself got the insurance goal on a third-period power play, banging one in from close range.

"Five hole," he said. "Those are the ones you just shoot and hope they go in."

The rest of the story was Brodeur, who occasionally had to make some brilliant saves, but was also more active than usual as a puck-handler.

Brodeur is never one to avoid putting his stick on the puck, but yesterday he seemed to handle the puck more than many of his defencemen.

"They were just throwing the pucks at the net and going for it," he said. "But it's a bigger ice surface. If the guy is in front of the net and he misses the net, I'm almost able to beat him behind the net and make a play, and I did that a couple of times."

He also tried to make a few breakaway passes.

"I got a too-many-men penalty because of one of them," he said with a laugh. Brodeur put his pass into the area near the players bench while Canada was changing, which seemed like a good idea at the time.

GREAT PLAY

"I thought it was a great play," he said, "and then when the referee whistled, I thought, 'Oh, maybe I should have gone the other way.' "

Even so, Brodeur enjoyed his outing.

"It was nice to get back in the net and get some action like that," he said. "It was a typical North American hockey game. You won't see too many games like that in this tournament, that's for sure.

"It was more of something that I'm used to -- North American hockey with guys driving the net, shooting the puck, guys going for rebounds fighting through a screen. It was more of my game, compared with a European team that will skate and control the puck and wait for top-quality chances before it lets the pucks go."

Not that it seems to make a lot of difference.


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