Nigel Kirwan Diary: 6th Installment
Saturday night’s game versus Russia will end up being a game to forget. A promising 1-0 lead via a Lee Stempniak goal quickly evaporated as we paraded ourselves to the penalty box in the first period. A 3-1 deficit after one ended up proving insurmountable. Russia added a fourth and final goal one and a half minutes into the second as we were unable to answer the bell with any kind of sustained attack for the duration of the night. A Russia team historically noted for their finesse and skill also looked very North American, as they won every physical confrontation. Russia 4 (with three on the power-play), USA 1.
Sunday’s 12:30 p.m. practice focused on puck possession, our neutral zone attack and power-play, three areas of weakness exposed during the Russia game last night.
Myself and the assistants watched our next opponent, Switzerland, fall to Sweden, 4-1, in the afternoon. This game had the same effect on me as the Ambien I took on the flight over here. Both teams played uninspiring hockey despite the strong home crowd. Our Monday night game against Switzerland will be our final game of the cross-over round. We pretty much control our own destiny, needing a single point to advance to the playoffs. A point attained by Sweden in their game against France on Monday afternoon would also advance us. Beyond that, the tie-breaking rules are too lengthy to include and/or explain. They basically require a Harvard Law degree anyway. Suffice to say the team has put itself in good shape.
Brian Burke, upon hearing about my writings for this web site earlier this week, has repeatedly reminded me to praise management! So we interrupt this daily blog for the following endorsement message:
“Brian Burke and the USA management team have done an outstanding job of assembling what is surely a real fine U.S. squad. A special hats off for the particularly intelligent appointments to the ’09 U.S. National Team Coaching Staff!”
Lightning Player Update: As of Sunday night Marty St. Louis is leading the tournament with 12 points (4g-8a) in five games. Steven Stamkos is tied for sixth with eight points (6g-2a). Martins Karsums is third on Team Latvia with a goal and three assists and Karri Ramo, in his lone start, posted a .947 save percentage.
Previous Steven Stamkos Diaries from Switzerland:
Previous Diaries from Video Coach Nigel Kirwan in Switzerland: