It was expected to be a blowout, and it was, in fact, a blowout when Team Canada obliterated the Norwegians earlier today in Vancouver. Lead by Jarome Iginla, who registered a hat-trick in the game, the Canadians easily captured a victory in their first matchup of the tournament. They were a bit sloppy in the first to kick things off, but once they got settled in, the domination began, and Team Norway, who was skating hard to begin the tilt, slowly but surely began to sink.
I think Canada’s biggest strength in the offensive zone will be their forecheck. The Russians are great puck movers, and the United States correctly executes the transition from defense to offense, so that leaves a question mark in the category of Canada’s strengths. While there may be many, the one that stood out to me was puck possession and work along the boards. That is how a majority of the Canadian goals and chances were generated; work off the boards and moving it towards the net.
Canada’s forecheck this afternoon was phenomenal and is a major reason for the 8-0 output. All but two players recorded at least a point for Team Canada in the win, which is still being celebrated in the streets of Vancouver as I write this. Jarome Iginla was the obvious standout, as he recorded a hat-trick in the game, but I also thought Joe Thornton, Sidney Crosby, and Corey Perry were also stellar up front.
The defense in front of Roberto Luongo was solid enough to get the win, but they definitely will be looking over tape in order to clean things up in their own zone. As for Luongo, well, he did not exactly have all that much pressure on him, but when Norway did manage to get a shot on goal, “Luuuuuuu” had an answer.
The atmosphere inside Canada Hockey Place for that tilt was incredible. The fans gave the team a standing ovation before and after each period. After each goal there were fans circling the arena with giant Canadian Flags held high above their heads. Every scoring chance on either side brought about a roar from the crowd. I mean, you just cannot beat a Canadian hockey crowd. They are the best hands down.
I was also fortunate enough to attend the Russia-Latvia game in which Russia took by the score of 8-2. In that game, Alex Ovechkin scored twice, Evgeni Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuk each had one, and the other four goals were buried by members of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
I was very impressed with Team Russia’s movement of the puck. They zip it around in the offensive zone and make setting up one-timers seem like a simplistic task. Yes, they played a low-level team in the Latvians, but I still was very impressed from what I saw from the Russians. And to think they are not fully there as a team yet is just frightening.
If any team in this tournament will compete with Canada, it will be Russia. They looked like a determined squad out there, not one that is in it for individual goals and themselves. They actually played as a team and know they are overdue for a Gold Medal.
On Wednesday I will be off to Canada Place to watch our boy Henrik Lundqvist and the Swedes take on Team Germany. I will have more on that game and other topics later. In the meantime, check out my Daily Blog over at BlueshirtBanter.com .