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Choose Your Own Adventure (Team Canada Edition)

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As Ivano mentioned earlier today, the Canadian brass has made their final selections for Team Canada, with all four candidates (Boyle, Thornton, Marleau, Heatley) making the team. It's a good day for Sharks fans to be sure, what with Boyle and Marleau making the team for the first time in their careers.

With all due respect to Fear The Fin's Team Russia correspondent Ivan Makorov, I'll be in the Team USA and Team Canada corner come February. However, he raises a good point-- which San Jose Shark needs the momentum of a gold medal the most going into the last third of the season following the games, and most importantly, heading into The Months That Shall Not Be Named? Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, who have been criticized for their inability to put a team on their backs when it matters most, or Evgeni Nabokov, a goaltender who posted a .890 SV% in last year's postseason against the Anaheim Ducks? It's an interesting debate, and while I'm not sure there is any quantifiable data to make a compelling case, my gut tells me this team is only going to go as far as Nabokov takes them considering the workload and results he has produced this season behind a less than stellar defensive unit. Then again, with secondary scoring also a concern, it would stand to reason that Marleau and Thornton must continue to produce lest the well dry up and San Jose be forced into 2-1 grind em' outs. Admittedly, if this occurs, it would make Nabokov even more important.

And round and round we go.

What is quantifiable however, is the defensive selection Canada's brass made by discluding Jay Bouwmeester from the roster. When previewing the team in early December I had him pegged as a lock-- not surprising given he was only behind Chris Pronger and Duncan Keith in James Mirtle's Rod Langway Award watch for best defensive defensemen, and made the team as a 22 year old in 2006. It's a snub that Canada can overcome considering the strength of their roster, but it's still one that I think is deserving of it's own post.

What follows the jump are some relevant statistics that should paint a clearer picture as to whether this was the correct choice or not. And since we're playing the Capitals tonight, Mike Green is thrown in as well.

We're assuming that Chris Pronger, Duncan Keith, and Scott Niedermayer weren't on the bubble in the eyes of Team Canada due to their leadership skills and current play. That leaves us with four players (Seabrook, Weber, Boyle, Doughty) who were the ones that likely got the most discussion when assembling the roster.

When I look at Team Canada (and this is sure to shade my analysis), I see a slew of offensive talent amongst the forwards, and therefore would put a premium on assembling a strong defensive cast. Chris Pronger is excellent at making that first outlet pass and can move the puck well, Scott Niedermayer can skate with the best of them when he's not contemplating retirement, and all three of the aforementioned non-bubble boys play a big role on each of their team's power plays. Therefore, in my eyes at least, composing a top-notch defensive group with physical acumen is the biggest priority if I'm preparing for a battle with the other medal contenders.

H/T to Behind The Net for the data.

Team Canada Defenseman: The Discluded

EV GA/60
SH GA/60
Jay Bouwmeester
0.016 0.43 2.32 1.82 4.23
Mike Green
-0.006 1.69 5.25 2.53 5.31

Team Canada Defenseman: The Included

EV GA/60
SH GA/60
     Defenseman A
-0.003 1.19 4.18 2.55 5.10
     Defenseman B
0.002 1.13 4.01
2.35 5.58
     Defenseman C
0.109 0.82 4.34 2.11 5.10
     Defenseman D
0.041 0.93 2.79 2.61 10.39

Bouwmeester's obviously the most prolific defensive minded defenseman here, and I'm surprised that he didn't make the roster. As mentioned before, Canada has a whole slew of offensive talent on the front end, and leaving off one of their better defensive-minded defenseman seems like a mistake to me.

At any rate, the Globe and Mail poll on who was the biggest omission from the Team Canada roster has Green and Bouwmeester running one-two, accounting for 50% of the vote. Looking at these statistics, is there anyone you would have replaced on the team in favor of Bouwmeester and/or Green? Make your picks, then check the identities of the four included defenseman here.


Go Sharks.