Canada 3, Norway 1. That was the score many probably expected after the first five minutes or so. The fact that it was the score Thursday in a preliminary round game in Sochi? Well, commence the worry-warting through all the Canadian provinces NOW.
Canada got the win, but it wasn't supposed to be this tough. Only a two-goal differential, and only a 38-20 shot differential. But let's give a little credit to the Norwegians too.
They played the Canadians tough, not just scoreboard-wise, but physically. They hit the Canadians, they talked a little trash to the Canadians and they put a good scare into the Canadians. Goalie Lars Haugen was solid, making 35 saves.
The one real good part of the day for Canada: they dominated in the period you would have expected them to -- the second. After a scoreless first period, they really took it to the Norwegians in the second. The skeptic will say: wow, look at that final score, Canada is in trouble! Others will say: relax, Canada dominated when they wanted to, and won the game. They'll get better.
The truth is probably somewhere in between. This game, however, didn't go the way anyone thought.
|Team Canada Grades|
|Line or pairing||After 1st||After 2nd||Final|
|Chris Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Jeff Carter||D||B||C|
|Patrick Sharp-Jonathan Toews-Rick Nash||D||C||C|
|Patrick Marleau-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry||F||B||B|
|Jamie Benn-John Tavares-Patrice Bergeron||F||A||A|
|Duncan Keith-Shea Weber||C||B+||B|
|Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Drew Doughty||B||B||B+|
|Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo||C||A||A-|
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Jeff Carter: A pretty quiet game for Sid. Not that he was bad, but there was nothing on the score sheet. Carter and Kunitz weren't anything special either.
Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Rick Nash: Nash floated around too much, though he did get a patented third-period breakaway thanks to some of that floating. Toews skated well, but didn't factor in the scoring.
Patrick Marleau - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry: Marleau led the team in shots on goal and assisted on a goal. Getzlaf made a nice crossing pass on Drew Doughty's big third-period goal.
Jamie Benn - John Tavares - Patrice Bergeron: Canada's fourth line was probably its best. Bergeron had two assists, one on a Benn goal that proved the game-winner. Benn also drew the penalty that led to Weber's goal.
Martin St. Louis: He didn't get a ton of ice time. He could be the odd-man out in Canada's next game, with Matt Duchene probably replacing him.
Duncan Keith - Shea Weber: Weber's big blast early in the second period stopped Canadians from freaking out any further. Keith's late second-period penalty, after dropping his stick, led to Norway's only goal.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Drew Doughty: Great goal by Doughty in the third, which stopped any Norway momentum shortly after they'd just scored. It's hard to judge the defense and goaltending when the shots are so lopsided, but Doughty and Vlasic were fine.
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo: Strong game from the two St. Louis Blues D-men. They and big and mobile, and Mike Babcock played them a lot.
There was immediate speculation after the game that Canada will give Roberto Luongo the start Friday against Austria. As noted earlier, hard to judge a goalie in a game like this, but the fact that he allowed anything against the weak Norwegian offense will give critics ammunition to say he shouldn't be the No. 1 going forward. Price misplayed the puck before allowing Norway's only goal in the third. Guaranteed that will be replayed plenty on Canadian hockey highlight shows.
The power play didn't look great at all, especially that first one. But the penalty killing was good, and you know Canada's PP woes probably won't last.
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Jeff Carter: Crosby started to get his feet moving, but the line remained blanked through two periods.
Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Rick Nash: Not much going on with this line again, although Sharp went hard to the net a couple times. Nash is floating around too much.
Patrick Marleau - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry: Marleau has four shots on goal after two periods. Getzlaf hasn't looked great at all, looking a bit slow on the big ice.
Jamie Benn - John Tavares - Patrice Bergeron: Very good period for Bergeron, with two assists. Benn withstood an attempted huge hit from Norwegian defender Ole-Kristian Tollefsen to score shortly after.
Martin St. Louis: Only 6:17 of ice time through two periods.
Duncan Keith - Shea Weber: A great shot by Weber got the Canadians on the board. Keith hurt his team by dropping his stick and taking a a penalty in the final minute.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Drew Doughty: These guys have been fine, though Doughty has looked a bit jittery with puck at times.
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo: They've been the ice leaders for Canada so far, as Mike Babcock obviously feels confident in them.
Carey Price: Only faced two shots in the second. Could have used a rocking chair.
Again, not all that great, though Canada did get its first goal on a delayed penalty.
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Jeff Carter: Crosby and Kunitz barely registered. Carter skated hard, including a nice back-check.
Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Rick Nash: Nash looked lost.
Patrick Marleau - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry: Nothing.
Jamie Benn - John Tavares - Patrice Bergeron: Tavares had a good chance from the left side.
13th forward: Martin St. Louis: He got a shift with Kunitz and Crosby at one point
Duncan Keith - Shea Weber: Keith was switched with Doughty by the midway mark.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Drew Doughty: Doughty lost a puck at the blue line on the power play.
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo: They actually moved the puck pretty well, looked like the best D pair.
Seventh defenseman: Dan Hamhuis: Just a guy there.
Carey Price: He had to make one pretty tough save, with the right arm.
Canada's first power play couldn't have looked any worse. But the PK was good after Ryan Getzlaf took a late tripping minor for Canada.