Whether you can phantom it or not, the team that represented the United States at the World Cup of Hockey was built to “beat Canada”.
Embarrassment ensued as a lifeless squad took the ice against Team Europe, then proceeded to be shutout 3-0.
While in it of itself, the uninspiring loss to Team Europe was a bump in the road and hope for a better tomorrow loomed on the horizon. Canada awaited the downtrodden Americans.
Head coach John Tortorella described Tuesday nights game against Canada as “a spirited affair”. The spirit lasted all of 5 minutes as Team USA saw its dominant play crippled by back to back Canadian goals a mere 14 seconds apart from one another.
From there, Team USA’s wheels fell off completely.
Appearing flat and unfocused, Matt Duchene scored to make it 3-1 Canada and the rest, as they say is history.
4-2 Canada. Just add it to the list of disappointing finishes on the international scale for team USA.
However, this disheartening finish stung a bit worse than the bronze medal loss to Finland in 2014.
Questioning head coach John Tortorella’s decision to challenge Corey Perry’s tally to make it a 2-1 Canadian lead was head scratching to say the least. For one, it was clearly a good goal, secondly all scoring plays are reviewed, third he lost his timeout and the potential to challenge a more questionable play at any point of the game moving forward. Was it mentioned this was less then 8 minutes into the game? Because it was.
Erik Johnson had no right to be participating against Canada considering he or D partner Dustin Byfuglien didn’t dress for the match up against Team Europe, and it cost them mightily as Byfuglien lost track of Duchene right before he scored to make it 1-1. A few minutes later, Johnson failed to clear his own zone, allowing Canada to slip a puck back to Duchene whom was hiding behind the play to pot his second of the game.
Furthermore, the fact that Tortorella was even allowed to coach this hockey team is dumbfounding. Perhaps there’s a reason he is buried on an lackluster Blue Jackets team.
Last and probably the most interesting was the decision to start and even play Justin Abdelkader over a player like Kyle Okposo. Okposo brings the same physical element as Abdelkader but with a much higher offensive presence, which in a short tournament means everything.
One thing remains ‘Phil the thrill’ won the night and didn’t even participate in a game. Which is also a travesty to humanity.
While USA hockey built itself a sound foundation with a trip to the gold medal game against Canada in 2010, its failure to recreate that success has been a noticeable failure. It also merits a complete overhaul in personal with both players and coaches. While it may be awhile until Eichel, Matthews, Tyler Johnson and Johnny Gaudreau sees time in red, white and blue. I think I speak for everyone when I say, it can’t come soon enough.
Disappointment has come in abundance recently but this one truly was an embarrassment of epic proportions. Out coached, outclassed, out skilled in every facet of a hockey game. But don’t give up on USA hockey, don’t believe me? Just watch Team North America play.