I’ve got to admit it. I wasn’t the biggest Robert Esche fan coming into the World Cup. I thought he was a bit overrated and his success in the playoffs was more a matter of luck than form.
But watching him against the Canadiens, I’ve got to change my opinion. Esche is the real deal. He was stunning in the U.S. loss to Canada. The Canadians should have won by at least five goals. But Esche was always in position, keeping square to the shooter. And when he was out of position, he was able to scramble like Dominik Hasek. It was truly a sight to behold.
The Canadians were sharp and the US was dull. There’s no doubt about that. But at least US coach Ron Wilson knows he has a true number one goalie. I’m guessing he’ll give his other two goalies some work during the next few games, but I can’t see how anyone could possibly outplay Esche.
And what was with Canada’s Shane Doan? He had a ton of great looks and great chances and he couldn’t do anything with them. You can’t help but wonder how Keith Primeau, who basically didn’t make the team because Doan filled the bruiser role, would have done with those shots.
I’m guessing he would have buried them.
And the U.S.’s weakness on the blue line was painfully obvious. Defenseman Brian Leetch could hardly get out of his own zone. What’s the point of having Leetch on your team if he’s forced to play like a regular defenseman? Leetch needs to roam. Leetch needs to work down low. He’s not going to score a goal from his own blue line.
Not regularly anyway.