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Brodeur?s average night raises goalie question

by Dan Rosen
VANCOUVER -- Martin Brodeur looked like Canada's best option in net heading into Sunday's clash against Team USA. Now, maybe not so much.

After praising his poise and his big game experience after Brodeur was great against Switzerland, Canada coach Mike Babcock watched his goalie play nothing more than an average game in Canada's 5-3 loss to Team USA.

Now Babcock has a major decision to make before the Canadians play Germany on Tuesday in the qualification round.

Does he go back to Brodeur, who stopped only 18 of 22 shots he faced, or will Roberto Luongo get his chance to guide Canada out of the hole it is in?

Luongo was in net for Canada's opener against Norway, but most everyone figured that was just to get him a game and the experience in the Olympics in front of his home crowd in Vancouver.

"What I'll do is, without emotion I will watch the game here tonight and then I'll make my decisions and go from there," Babcock said. "Obviously tonight was a night we'd like to be better in that area, but we'll have a look at her and make a decision."

Brodeur yielded two goals to former teammate Brian Rafalski within the first 9:15.

The first, which came just 41 seconds in, was a point shot that deflected off Sidney Crosby's stick and into the net. He had no chance.

The second, though, came off his own giveaway.

Brodeur tried to bat the puck out of the air with a baseball swing, but Rafalski intercepted the puck, walked in and shot low and through Brodeur's legs. Canada defenseman Drew Doughty was frozen in between Rafalski and Jamie Langenbrunner, who was screening Brodeur.

The goal came just 22 seconds after Eric Staal made it 1-1.

Chris Drury gave the U.S. a 3-2 lead with 3:14 left in the second period when Brodeur was out of the net. He dove forward and tried to poke the puck out of the slot, but Bobby Ryan was able to slide it to David Backes, who slid a backhanded pass to Drury. He cashed in on an empty net because Brodeur got stuck on Backes as he tried to get up.

"I had to make a couple of good saves on a couple of breakaways there to keep the game 3-2 late in the second, but after that we took three penalties," Brodeur said.

Langenbrunner cashed in on one of those penalties when he beat his New Jersey Devils' teammate by getting a piece of Rafalski's shot from the left point 7:09 into the third period. His goal proved to be the game-winner.

"The last one I didn't really see," Brodeur said. "I think (Langenbrunner) was right in front of me. They crashed the net. They went hard."

Team Canada GearPrior to the tournament, Brodeur expressed his excitement and desire to finally be able to roam around without the trapezoid that usually hems in him. He may have been guilty of roaming too much Sunday.

"I don't know the answer to that," Babcock said. "I thought between our D and Marty early in the game we failed to execute. I thought it led to the first goal and led to the second goal, too. We just misplayed the puck.

"You'd like to have them back, but you can't. That's hockey," he continued. "I still thought we got ourselves back in the game and did a lot of good things. In the end, when we made mistakes it ended up in our net, so we'll look at it and prepare for the next game."

Unless Babcock keeps it a secret -- a distinct possibility by the way -- we should know Monday if Canada is going to prepare for the next game with Luongo in mind.

"These were definitely momentum-changers," Brodeur said of the goals scored against him. "When you think you have the momentum, they go out and they score a goal and I think it deflates a bit the atmosphere of the building and the team also. But we had our chances again and Miller was the big difference."

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