To Eric Staal, it's only a detour.
Team Canada was heavily favored to win its group round-robin in the preliminary round in Vancouver and earn a bye into the tournament quarterfinals. But after opening with a rout of Norway, Canada struggled to beat Switzerland. Then came the unexpected: the 5-3 loss to the U.S. on Sunday.
"It's a different road now," Staal said today from Vancouver. "It's not the road we wanted to go on, but we're still alive.
"And I still like our group. I really think we're getting better every game, even though we did lose last night."
Staal wasn't sure how huge an upset it was by the Americans. The U.S. team is made up of quality NHL players and has Ryan Miller, arguably the best goaltender in the league this season, in net.
"We had two pretty good teams playing each other," Staal said. "I like the way we played. We had a lot of opportunities.
"It was fun. It was a great game. Obviously we wanted to be on the winning end but we didn't bury enough shots and Miller was pretty good."
Pretty good? Staal chuckled.
"Really good," he said. "Against the Swiss and again last night, both goaltenders really stepped up their game. But we had a ton of chances."
Staal scored Canada's first goal, on a redirection, to tie the score 1-1 Sunday, but the U.S. quickly answered and never trailed in the game.
"We had a lot of chances to tie it up," Staal said. "But they played hard, played well and capitalized on their breaks."
While the U.S. received a bye into the quarterfinals, Team Canada must beat Germany on Tuesday to reach the quarters. And waiting in the quarterfinals: Russia.
"It's do-or-die now but we're all in the same boat," Staal said. "We're looking forward to playing the Germans and then go from there. Win that game, stick with it and bear down.
"We just want to take care of business, be ready for Germany, get the work done and get more comfortable with each other. We're still pretty confident."