Brad Jacobs’ early losses have Canadian men up against a wall in Olympic curling

Don Landry
The Eh Game

Niklas Edin's final stone came to rest in the back of the four-foot, despite the best efforts of Canada's Ryan Fry, who swept it feverishly as the stone crossed the tee-line. By an inch, the Canadian Men's curling team had lost its second game of the Olympics and that has them in a difficult position going forward.

Not impossible, mind you. Not nearly impossible. But difficult. Canada's 7 - 6 loss to Edin and Team Sweden has plunged the gold medal favourites towards the bottom of the standings.

A 1 and 2 start for Jacobs and his mates is not what they were hoping for, considering their first three games were against the Germans, Swiss and the Swedes. They got the win they expected against the long shot Germans, then fell to a team that is no push over, the Swiss, skipped by Sven Michel.

Sweden, the defending world champion, might not under normal circumstances be considered in the "should win" category, but their 2013-14 season has not been normal.

Barely winning more games than they have lost on the World Cup Tour this year, Edin's team - while exceptionally talented - had been struggling consistently. Jacobs' team was considered the most formidable on the planet after a perfect performance at the Canadian Olympic Trials.

Just goes to show. No matter the record leading up to an event like the Olympics, the bright spotlight and high pressure can re-focus championship-calibre contenders and that seems precisely what has happened with Edin's crew.

Top of the table, with a 3 and oh record, Sweden is in the catbird's seat, controlling its playoff destiny, while Canada needs to scramble a bit to ensure it is in the top four come the end of the round robin.

If the situation is disappointing for Jacobs and his team, it need not be depressing.

Good news for the struggling skip is that his next game is against Russia, a team considered to be lower level competition. Get your jets fired against them and perhaps you can end the week with a flourish, as long as you're spot on against contenders Great Britain and Norway and up and coming skip Rasmus Sterjne and his Danish National Team. As well as the Chinese, also no pushovers.

Jacobs and his team hope to catch a little of whatever is infecting their women's counterparts. Jennifer Jones skipped a perfect game against Sweden and has her team looking monstrously good after two games.

If the shaky start for Jacobs is cause for worry among Canadian curling fans, take solace in the fact that a modest record of 5 and 4 was good enough to get Edin and Great Britain's David Murdoch into a tie-breaker situation at the Vancouver Games.

While the field here is better than it was in 2010, that can be both a help and hindrance to Jacobs as he tries to get his rink yanked from the mud of a sluggish start.

Wins, of course, will be harder to come by for him. However, that's a difficulty the others - Edin included - face above him and there is the possibility that the field will constrict as the week goes on, with little to choose between, say, first place and sixth, in the grand scheme of things.

A rough start is not necessarily a harbinger of things to come for the Canadian men. Jacobs got hot as the week went on at the 2013 World Championships - after an unforeseen loss to Japan - and wound up with a silver medal when all was said and done.

Those tough games against Great Britain and Norway loom large for Jacobs. As do the challenging dates with Denmark and China. There are a couple of "should wins" on the schedule, too, including tomorrow's against the Russians and Sunday's versus the Americans.

Don't bet against the Canadians getting back into the contender's mix here.

But they'd better hit the "giddyup" peddle, pronto.