You could almost hear the collective told-ya-so when Team Canada goalie Malcolm Subban dejectedly skated to the bench Team USA went up by four goals in the world junior championship semifinal.
Allowing four goals on 16 shots will let the prophets — I said from the start they wouldn't win with him in net! — say whatever they want about the Boston Bruins prospect. Throw the 19-year-old Belleville Bulls goalie under the same bus as Scott Wedgewood, Mark Visentin and Jake Allen, the goalies who struggled in Canada's last three elimination losses at the WJC. Then blow the dust off the stale joke about how the bus would probably go through Subban's legs. Four goals on 16 shots is great scapegoat fodder on a day when Canada lost 5-1 to the U.S., which is apparently its worst loss ever at the world junior since its Program of Excellence was formed in 1982.
However, Subban does not deserve it. Canada's suffering its most lopsided semifinal loss ever at the IIHF world U20 championship and its worst loss to its North American rival ince the creation of Hockey Canada's program of excellence was "a collective failure from top to bottom," as TSN's Bob McKenzie noted during the second intermission. Goaltending doesn't save a flat team from a 5-1 loss in a big game. Or from eight turnovers in the first period.
The fact forgotten man Jordan Binnington made some superb saves while mopping up, stopping 25-of-26 shots in 27 minutes of relief, only serves the Subban blamers. But saying that ignores the hard-to-swallow reality.
Team Canada, coming off the two-day break that is a double-edged gift for teams who win their round-robin group, was molasses-in-January slow to get into the game, as if it was as sleep-deprived as every supporter back home.
Subban actually had a series of good stops prior to being screened by his teammates when U.S. captain Jake McCabe opened the scoring in the first period.
Toronto Maple Leafs defence prospect Morgan Rielly also made a better door than a window when McCabe helped Wisconsin Badgers fans get over their Rose Bowl loss by scoring the second U.S. goal.
Down 2-0 after a period, the first 10 minutes of the second shaped up as critical for Canada. Defenceman Griffin Reinhart was caught up ice on a quick transition and Nathan MacKinnon was late on the line change. Ryan Murphy, the defenceman whose inclusion on the roster was somewhat controversial. (Murphy, who plays for Team Canada coach Steve Spott with the Kitchener Rangers, did not shine at Canada's selection camp.) Murphy did not exactly play the one-on-one with John Gaudreau very confidently.
Subban became a spectator after Reinhart was absolutely turnstiled (that's a word as of right now) by Nashville Predators prospect Jimmy Vesey for the 4-0 goal. That is the only goal Subban arguably should have stopped. He was deep in the goal, but with the way his team was playing (or not playing), it's understandable if he was off his bearings.
True, Dr. Binnington did keep the patient just barely breathing after coming off the bench for his first action in 12 days. The Owen Sound Attack star made an acrobatic save after the U.S. greeted him with another offensive flurry just seconds after he came into the game.
Binnington also had to stop a 3-on-1 rush later in the second period. The fact that Team USA's Rocco Grimaldi had the brass to do a drop pass to a trailing forward rather than shoot as the pursuit closed in on him. That tells you how much confidence the U.S. possessed by that point. Murphy was the defenceman caught up the ice on that play.
Go ahead and try to over-read the situation or pin Canada's collapse on lack of confidence in its goalie if that eases the pain. Canada was flat-out beaten. It was difficult to put it on goaltending.
More negative body language from Subban on the glove side goal by McCabe. Nitpicking, but he maybe could've worked for better sightlines.
— The Goalie Guild (@TheGoalieGuild) January 3, 2013
"The goalie guru of the age was a guy who claimed he could tell stuff from the body language of a teenager in Russia?"
— mc79hockey (@mc79hockey) January 3, 2013
People are gonna blame Subban, but he was screened on 2 of the 4, and the other two the U.S. walked around the defense, its a team game
— Stephen Roy (@stonewallsteve1) January 3, 2013
The final four-goal margin gave Team USA its most decisive win over Canada since a 7-3 triumph in 1981. Canada created its program of excellence the following season.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org (videos: TSN).