Hockey Notebook: Burke 'not happy' with U.S.
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Do not count Brian Burke, the United States' general manager, among the many Americans who enjoyed the team's 5-3 upset of Canada Sunday night.
Not entirely, anyway.
"You guys might be shocked by this, but I'm not happy with the way we've played to this point," Burke said at a news conference Monday at Canada Hockey Place. "If that's how we keep playing, we're going to have a hard time getting where we want in the medal round. We have to do better. We need all hands on deck. We're playing with about 10 guys carrying us, in my opinion. That won't do it."
The United States is 3-0 and earned the No. 1 seed of all 12 teams after the preliminary round, as well as a bye into the quarterfinals. In that round, it will face the winner of the Switzerland-Belarus qualification-round game today.
Burke, never timid to share his views, singled out for praise the obvious candidates in goaltender Ryan Miller and defenseman Brian Rafalski, who Burke said "might have played the best game of his life." He also cited defenseman Jack Johnson -- who was paired with Brooks Orpik -- and forward Ryan Kesler.
But that was about it. Burke pointed to little creativity from the team's centers, too many turnovers and sporadic intensity.
Among the clear non-performers were the forward line of Ryan Malone, Phil Kessel and Joe Pavelski. That had been the Americans' best trio in the early going, but coach Ron Wilson benched them for long stretches Sunday.
Canada's game against Germany will highlight the four-game, all-day qualification round today, if only because so many will be looking to see how Canada bounces back.
Germany, with six NHL players, went 0-3 in the preliminary round and was outscored, 12-3.
"It's a must-win now, no matter who we play," center Sidney Crosby said. "We've got to turn the page pretty quickly here."
If Canada wins, it will face Russia in the quarterfinals.
"We're not looking past Germany," Crosby replied when asked about that.
The top four seeds sit out the qualification round, and those, in order, are the United States, Sweden, Russia and Finland. If the qualification round goes as expected, that would bring the following quarterfinal matchups: USA vs. Switzerland, Sweden vs. Slovakia, Canada vs. Russia, and Finland vs. the Czech Republic.
How hard did the loss Sunday hit Canadians?
Consider that the streets of downtown Vancouver, overcrowded to the point of being unmanageable all weekend, suddenly turned empty and silent in the immediate aftermath of the game. Police, who had instituted new regulations about open-container alcohol and were braced for a massive turnout, instead stood idle while red-and-white clad fans -- most with long faces -- simply boarded the trains and went home.
The only revelers were the small packs draped in American flags.
Finland defenseman Joni Pitkanen was suspended one game for a hit Sunday to the head of Sweden's Patric Hornqvist. That will keep Pitkanen out of Finland's quarterfinal matchup.
First Published February 23, 2010 12:00 am