Switzerland-Canada Preview

Switzerland-Canada Preview

Published Feb. 17, 2010 11:47 a.m. ET

After some early opening-night jitters, Canada showed why it's heavily favored to win the gold medal in men's hockey.

Now, it will send out arguably the nation's greatest goaltender ever.

Martin Brodeur will be in net Thursday as Canada seeks payback for a stunning shutout loss to Switzerland four years ago.

Canada opened Olympic play Tuesday with an 8-0 rout of Norway, but it wasn't an easy win by any means.


The teams were scoreless after one period until Jarome Iginla's power-play goal 2:30 into the second. Canada added two more before scoring five goals in the third against a squad that didn't feature an NHL player.

"Everyone stayed behind us. No one was getting antsy even when it was 0-0 after the first and our play showed that as well. We were really patient," said Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, who had three assists.

Iginla, who plays for Calgary, finished with a hat trick and Dany Heatley of San Jose scored twice as 15 players had a hand in Canada's first six goals.

Coach Mike Babcock couldn't underestimate the importance of getting off to a dominant start since goal differential figures in determining quarterfinal-round seeding.

"We are in Canada," he said. "We want to show how good we are, but we're still a work in progress."

Roberto Luongo of the hometown Canucks stopped 15 shots as Canada improved to 19-1 in Olympic openers.

Brodeur now will get the chance to help Canada keep rolling before a huge matchup Sunday against the United States to wrap up preliminary-round play.

His credentials are impeccable. A four-time Vezina Trophy winner, Brodeur is the NHL's all-time leader with 591 wins and 108 shutouts, and has hoisted three Stanley Cups during a 17-year career with New Jersey.

He is 6-2-1 with a 1.82 goals-against average in Olympic play, but has only one medal - a gold from the 2002 Salt Lake games.

Brodeur also will try to help Canada forget the sting of a stunning loss in 2006 at Turin. Canada was placed in a favorable group and opened with convincing wins over Germany and host Italy as it sought a second straight gold medal.

Facing an upstart Swiss team that was coming off an upset of the Czech Republic, Canada fell 2-0. Martin Gerber, then with Carolina, turned aside 49 shots, including 24 in the third period.

The Canadians never recovered after that and finished seventh - one spot behind Switzerland.

With a current roster that's loaded with talent, Canada is aware that it cannot afford any letdowns.

"This is a tournament where we have to get better every game," said Heatley. "It was a good start tonight, but games are going to get tougher and we've got to get better. We've got a lot of great players in there that just have to stick to the game plan, stick to what we do, and things are going to be good."

Things weren't good for Switzerland on Tuesday, falling 3-1 to the United States. The Swiss avoided being blanked when Roman Wick scored a power-play goal with just over 10 minutes remaining.

Mark Streit, a defenseman for the New York Islanders and Swiss captain, outlined what the strategy would be against a powerful Canadian team.

"Get pucks deep and use our speed. Take the puck wide, go to the net, and work down low. We've got to be strong defensively, too," he told International Ice Hockey Federation's official Web site.

Jonas Hiller, one of nine Anaheim players currently in Vancouver, made 21 saves against Team USA and will probably start this contest.

However, he cannot be too pleased about having to face Iginla again so soon. Hiller gave up a pair of second-period goals to the Flames captain Saturday in the Ducks' 3-1 loss.