Monday, February 22, 2010

Nash takes Vancouver, Game 3 (with help from Bill Clement)

"These are the times that try men's souls." - Thomas Paine

OK, so things aren't as desperate in the hockey world as the times which inspired Paine to write that inspired line.  But if you're on the Canadian Olympic men's ice hockey team, you're thinking Paine probably had a point.  A 5-3 regulation loss to Team USA does it to you...

Closer to home, I'd suggest that Paine probably looked at the Dark Blue Jacket Rick Nash Olympic Goal Scoring Contest.  Man, THAT was a crap-tastic idea.  Captain Columbus has not put a single biscuit in the basket in three games.  Just 3 assists.  And here I predicted he'd get 7 goals!

If it's any consolation, the Canadians are not exactly lighting it up. After Game 1, where they destroyed Norway 8-0, they've scored a combined 5 goals in the subsequent two games.  Is it any wonder that Team Canada has to play their way into the quarterfinals tomorrow?  It's against Germany, granted, but the Canadians surely have chosen a hard road to the Gold.  They have to win four straight games.  Yow.

As for Rick Nash, he was one of the most physical guys on the ice in the loss to Team USA.  He was throwing hits, muscling his way around with the puck....and passing to his linemates.  Get this from the Washington Post:
Rick Nash, one of four Canadian bruisers who stands at least 6-foot-4 and weighs 220, led the hit parade. But in just one measure of how much skill was on display, it was Nash's vision and his deft little flick pass from the bottom of the right face-off circle that Sidney Crosby tipped in to pull Canada back within 4-3 and give the hosts a chance in the last 3 minutes.
In skimming the inter-tubes to see what the world is thinking about Nash, I came across this lively discussion on "Canadian lines (Who do you want to play with Crosby?)", I saw the most interesting combination of opinions on Rick's performance thus far at the Olympics:
  • Two people placed Nash on the 3rd line
  • One guy said, "Nash doesn't play defence and he doesn't need to in this tournament."
  • Another: "I would perfer [sic] to see Staal On Crosby's wing instead of nash," which was answered by "It could just be me but i think Nash is the one guy on Canadas roster that benefits the most from having a great centre. Staals good too but Nash has better hands to compliment Crosbys passing game better."
...and it goes on from there.  Talk about mixed opinions.  I have no idea what to think about Rick's performance.

I had the early evening edition of NHL Live on TV while playing with Dark Blue Onesie, and it said to Tweet comments and questions to them.  And I immediately thought, "Who better to chime in on Rick Nash's performance than guest host Bill Clement?"  He is part of my favorite NHL broadcasting team ever (with Gary Thorne) and - with Gary - brightens my NHL 10 game every time I get a chance to play.  I thus popped the question at him through Twitter:
Can you ask Bill to analyze Rick Nash's performance over the tourney thus far? I've seen wildly mixed reviews. 
[They didn't read this part:  (CAN MVP, 4th liner)]
Whaddya know, they read it on the air.  I won't lie, there's a bit of sheepishness in this corner of Franklin County as Rob Simpson reads, "We have a Tweet question from someone who calls themself Dark Blue Jacket."  And Bill sits there for a couple seconds, with the hundred mile stare, possibly thinking something between, "Nash is an NHL superstar - how can I criticize Nash?" and "Oh crap, he's been paired with Crosby, how can I criticize CROSBY?"  Or maybe it was, "He's that guy who plays where...oh yeah, Columbus...wonder what I can say about someone I don't see more than once or twice a season?"  Most likely, Bill was really thinking, "Dark Blue Jacket??  Oh jeez....I need a drink!"

To his credit, Bill's comments were very fair and indicated that he had more than a passing understanding of Nash's game.  He said that Rick's been pulling his weight at least as much as anyone else on Team Canada.  He said that in Game Two, Rick could easily have had 4 or 5 goals with his aggression toward the net.  He said that he was playing a great physical game.  He also said that Nash likes to shoot, but so does Crosby, so there's possibly an issue there.  But he displayed a lot of respect for Nash as well as the confusion that half of Canada are probably feeling.

And I was reassured.  Nash was OK with Bill Clement, and that's more than OK with me.

Soon after my moment of NHL Network glory, I read that Rick's been bumped to the second line, courtesy of Rogers SportsNet's Nick Kypreos:
Just left Team Canada practice. Nash off Crosby line and now with Getzlaf/Perry. Luongo in charge to get this team back on track.
Go figure.  Looks like Steve Yzerman and Co. are hitting the panic button all around.  

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