Tim Wharnsby – Thursday Feb. 20, 2014 11:13 ET
Team Canada not fazed by panicked hockey fans back home
Drew Doughty says squad confident ahead of semifinal tilt against U.S.
Drew Doughty lead hockey menDrew Doughty, left, Shea Weber, centre, and Jeff Carter have scored 10 of Canada’s 13 goals in Sochi. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
SOCHI — The players on the Canadian men’s team are well aware of the anxiety they have caused back home with their lack of offence through four games at the 2014 Olympics. But they aren’t about to apologize for their lack of finish.
The Canadian team enters its semifinal against the United States on Friday (streaming live at cbc.ca/olympics, noon ET) — a rematch of the 2010 final in Vancouver — with only 13 goals in four games, and the last two results have been 2-1 nail-biters against Finland and Latvia. Seven of the goals have come from defencemen: four from Drew Doughty and three from his power-play partner Shea Weber.
“We’re confident here,” said Doughty, who admitted he has read about the panic in Canada through Twitter. “We don’t care what other people say. We’re winning games, that’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter how we win them. We obviously want to put more pucks in the net and we’re looking forward to doing that tomorrow.’’
Doughty and some of his teammates find it amusing that there has been criticism, even though they have gone 4-0 and have a spot among the final four teams.
“I think a lot of people are counting us out, which we’re really going to thrive under that,” Doughty said. “If anyone wants to count us out, we’re going to use that as motivation. We’re hungry.’’
The Canadians don’t consider themselves underdogs, even though the United States has had an easier time in Sochi. The only close game for the U.S. was a 3-2 shootout win over Russia, in which the Americans were fortunate the game spilled into overtime because of a disallowed goal after the U.S. net became dislodged before the puck went into the net.
After practice on Thursday, most of the Canadian players were loose and felt the game against the U.S. would be more wide-open than the close-checking affairs against Norway, Finland and Latvia. But they know U.S. goal Jonathan Quick will be every bit as challenging to beat as Latvia’s Kristers Gudlevskis was in his 55-save masterpiece on Wednesday.
“When he’s on his game, he’s one of the best in the game,” said Canadian forward Jeff Carter, a teammate of Quick’s in Los Angeles. “He’s such a confident guy that he gets rolling and it’s pretty tough to beat him. We’re going to have to bring his A-game.”
Certainly every Canadian player wants to repeat with gold, but Friday’s game also presents bragging rights for NHL teammates. Doughty and Carter are motivated to keep their Los Angeles Kings teammates, Dustin Brown and Quick, quiet with a win.
“You want those bragging rights for the rest of the season, for the rest of your life, really,” Doughty said. “I’m really close with both those guys, Quickie and Brownie. It’s going to be fun tomorrow. I want to beat them so badly. We’re big rivals, us and the U.S., especially after our last Olympics. It’s going to be a lot of fun.’’
Quick and Doughty saw each other in the cafeteria at the athletes’ village the other day.
“We were talking about hopefully it came down to a shootout and hopefully I get a shot,” Doughty said.
He and Carter aren’t the only Canadian players who will knock heads with NHL teammates. Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz will not only go up against their fellow Pittsburgh Penguins Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin, but also their head coach Dan Bylsma.
Bylsma remarked a few times that he hoped his team would get a shot at Canada because of what transpired in Vancouver four years ago. Bylsma was not on the U.S. team coaching staff in 2010, but 13 U.S. players from that team are on the 2014 roster, and Bylsma certainly could recall where he was when Crosby scored the overtime winner.
“I was sitting in a restaurant bar on the side on a folding chair,” said Bylsma, who coached against Canadian coach Mike Babcock in the 2009 Stanley Cup final, and played for Babcock in Anaheim.
“The place was packed. We hit the crossbar that would have won the game in overtime. I remember the play along the boards in the left corner and the puck pops out to Sidney. He got to the dot and I started getting up.
“I felt the same disappointment as everybody else in that bar. But I kind of had a feeling that once he got to the dot it might find the back of the net, which it did. I can’t say I was happy for Sid. If it had to be someone I’m not surprised it was Sid.
“There was a lot of disappointment. At the time I wasn’t anywhere close to [being the U.S. coach for] the 2014 Games, but I might have been in a bar in Pittsburgh, but I got up from that chair and was ready to try to get to 2014. I know that.”