Swiss firmly in Canada's sights
By CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency
VANCOUVER — Mark Streit has got things figured out from the Swiss standpoint.
“It’s going to be tougher than four years ago, because they remember what happened.” said the Swiss defenceman of facing Team Canada Thursday afternoon in the second game of the Olympic tournament. “They have a better team this year.”
Four years ago to the day, the Swiss — backed by the goaltending of Martin Gerber — defeated Canada 2-0 at the Winter Games in Turin. After easy victories over the host Italians and then the Germans, the loss to the Swiss was the first tangible evidence of the fatal flaws that would send Canada to a seventh-place finish in defence of their gold medal.
Now, Team Canada would like to atone.
Though that loss was probably more about what was wrong with the Canadians than what was right with the Swiss — not to take anything away from them — does Thursday’s game represent a chance for payback for the Canadians, somewhat?
“Yeah, no question. We don’t forget things like that,” said Canadian forward Dany Heatley, who had two goals in Canada’s 8-0 win over Norway Tuesday. “It’d be nice to beat them pretty good (Thursday).”
Canadian defenceman Chris Pronger, who has played for Team Canada in the last four Olympics, wasn’t quite willing to say the loss to the Swiss completely derailed Canada four years ago.
“That’s probably overstating it. I’m sure it didn’t help. You can look at a lot of different things over the course of that Olympics, nitpick, point and do all the rest of that. At the end of the day, for all intents and purposes, it was a cluster(bleep). Can you use that? (The loss) was disappointing and not the way we wanted our Olympics to go. Hopefully we can learn from the mistakes and pitfalls of ’06,” he said.
Judging by Tuesday’s performance, Pronger is starting to believe they have.
Scoring goals was a problem four years ago, but the Canadians shook off some early game jitters — coach Mike Babcock said he could feel the tension on the bench — and led by Jarome Iginla’s hat-trick got some offensive confidence at the expense of the Norwegians.
Pronger said he expected the Swiss — who played the Americans tough, losing 3-1 in their opener — to play a similar game.
“They’re just sitting back and forcing you to make mistakes. The trap we can’t fall into is turning the puck over, just get it in, play our way and eventually we’re going to get to them at some point,” said Pronger.
“We’re certainly not going to take them lightly. You can’t look at anybody as easy pickings.”