Canada will win 5-3, predicts Don Cherry
HNIC analyst joins NBC for Olympic men's hockey final
Don Cherry is wearing a giant maple leaf on his heart.
Or, at least right next to it, emblazoned on a tie, accenting his bright red suit with his Hockey Canada cufflinks.
As patriotic as ever, Don Cherry, the colourful "Coach's Corner" analyst on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, sat down with CBCSports.ca in Toronto to share his thoughts on Team Canada's chances against the United States in the men's hockey gold-medal match Sunday at the Vancouver Olympics.
First things first.
Cherry's prediction: Canada takes it 5-3.
And he'll deliver that message to the U.S. directly, when he joins NBC's broadcast of the game, which starts at 12 p.m. PT (3 p.m. ET).
The United States (which Cherry says is "absolutely" Canada's biggest rival in hockey) has relied on the incredible goaltending of Ryan Miller at the Vancouver Olympics. He has easily been the tournament MVP so far.
The problem with Miller, Cherry said Saturday, is that "if he can see it, he'll stop it."
Rubber meets the net?
Not to worry, though. If Canada gets bodies in front of the net, the way it did against Slovakia in its 3-2 semifinal win, the Buffalo Sabres' Miller will have his work cut out for him.
"He better be sensational, because he's going to see more rubber than a dead skunk in a New York City throughway."
Cherry also has some advice for the Americans, who he says lacks scoring and are playing "the biggest hockey team ever in hockey.
"Don't get into a run-and-gun with Canada. If they [U.S.] get in a run-and-gun, they're dead," he says.
Although Canada's round-robin loss to the Americans has some pundits worried, Cherry says it was a blessing.
"I thought it was the greatest thing in the world. It gave us the extra game to get the lines ready."
Over those extra games, Canada finally came together. Witness the 7-3 pounding of the Russians in the quarter-finals.
"The way we've passed the puck, and the way we've been gelling, it's been unbelievable," Cherry says.
Defence, Crosby key, Grapes says
Canada's penalty killing has been great, led by the tandems of Jonathan Toews and Mike Richards, and Patrice Bergeron and Patrick Marleau.
And then of course, there's this kid named Crosby — who is prepared for Olympic glory.
"He's played great. But he's not the [Sidney] Crosby we're used to," Cherry says. "When the chips are down, he'll be there — you watch."
In net, however, Canada is a tad outmatched, Cherry says: "There's no doubt about that."
He says he's a bit concerned about Team Canada goalie Robert Luongo. Canada was dominating the game against Slovakia, which turned up the heat in the final period, with Luongo blamed for letting in one goal, while making a key stop in the final seconds of the game.
"I don't think he played a very good game [Friday] night. He's gotta be sharper than that, he really does."
If Luongo plays like he can, Cherry says, "we really don't have a weakness."
- An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect time for the start of the gold-medal game in Vancouver. It is scheduled to start at 12 p.m. PT (3 p.m. ET) on Sunday.Feb 28, 2010 3:42 AM ET