Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun are back to debate your hot topics. Today, they debate Canada's shocking loss in the World Junior Championship and Dwayne Roloson's reversal of fortune against the Penguins:
Burnside: Good day, my friend. Are all the flags north of the border at half-mast today after the Canadian junior team meltdown in the gold-medal game of the World Junior Championship in Buffalo, N.Y.?
Up 3-0 heading into the third period, the young Canucks allowed five unanswered goals to a Russian team that showed, well, Canadian-like resilience throughout the tournament. I felt bad for the Canadians (OK, not really), but after the Americans folded in their title defense Russia's win does a world of good for the credibility of a tournament tilted in favor of Canada.
LeBrun: In an e-mail exchange with several of my Team Canada-cheering buddies, I said the same thing. Russia's victory is the best thing for the tournament, which once again was made a home tournament by Canadian fans in Buffalo. No other country outside of Canada cares about this tournament. With the United States winning in 2010 and Russia taking the crown Wednesday, you can only hope the tournament begins to find new fans outside Canada's borders.
Our good friend David Shoalts of The Globe and Mail predictably didn't hold back, calling Canada's 5-3 loss "an all-time choke job." Damien Cox of The Toronto Star referred to it as the "greatest meltdown in the long, proud history of the Canadian national program." Ouch.
Burnside: Yes, it's easy to forget that we're talking about mostly teenage boys (unpaid players, for the most part), and to subject them to the incredible highs and soul-sucking lows may be a bit unfair, especially in Canada. Oh, well.
Speaking of collapses ... it's been an interesting 24 hours for Dwayne Roloson and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Everyone was lauding rookie GM Steve Yzerman for adding the veteran netminder over the weekend. Yzerman's stock, already high, went through the roof when Roloson was outstanding in shutting out Washington in his first game for the Bolts. But Yzerman understands this is a work-in-progress, and he wasn't planning the Cup parade route after one win. Good thing, since Roloson gave up five goals on 23 shots and was pulled twice in Pittsburgh's 8-1 win over Tampa on Wednesday night.
LeBrun: Well, I think we can let Roloson off the hook. Judging from coach Guy Boucher's comments after the game, his team never had it last night. They spent all their energy the night before in Washington before giving up a season-high 41 shots on goal versus Pittsburgh. I don't think there's much to read into there. On a night Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin scored seven seconds into the game and Tampa's superstar Steven Stamkos fell during a penalty shot (losing an edge on his skate) and didn't get a shot away, Boucher said it best -- you just move on and forget about it.
Burnside: It is only one game, but the juxtaposition of the two performances is a reminder that it's rarely just one piece that completes a puzzle. The Lightning are an interesting team, though. As you wrote yesterday, Yzerman also signed free-agent defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron, hoping to add another "piece" to a Lightning team that has come more sharply into focus this season. Bergeron is a menace in his own end, so that will make things more challenging for Roloson and/or Dan Ellis and/or Mike Smith between the pipes. But Bergeron also gives the Lightning something they have been lacking -- a big bomb from the point on the power play. Look at the baby steps taken by other new GMs, and Yzerman doesn't seem content to make those kinds of minor moves.
LeBrun: Don Maloney deservedly won the inaugural GM of the year award last season for his work with the surprising Coyotes. As of today, I would argue Yzerman should win it this season. He's been aggressive from Day 1, and his lessons learned at Red Wings University are quickly bearing fruit. His next move will likely have to be shedding either Smith or Ellis. I don't think Yzerman likes carrying three netminders. The biggest move of all, however, is his attempt to re-sign Stamkos. Talk tomorrow, Scotty.