What’s the acceptable scoreline against Norway? Is 3-1 too competitive? Should we panic?
All joking aside, it was consistent dominance throughout by Team Canada. There will be some complaints about too little conversion of possession into more goals, but that’s more of a testament to Norway goaltender Lars Haugen, who stopped 35/38 shots, as well as loads of blocked shots by the Norwegians.
Apparently, the webcast had no Glenn Healy on it for those watching at work, which is the one of the most compelling arguments we’ve ever heard for getting a bad office job.
It’s always fun seeing how a team with a monumental skill deficit approaches a game against an All-Star lineup playing full tilt or close to it. Surely, allegiances aside, we can all enjoy the fact that the game remained reasonably competitive to the end while Canada dominated play (although not the scoreboard) just about as much as expected in one of the—essentially—warmup tilts before things get serious.
The full game replay is available here.
The Norwegians were forcing some mistakes – a couple of turnovers, offsides, icings – out of Canada early. The formula for countries like Norway is obvious: pack mentality, trap, rely on a hot goalie, try to create outnumbered situations in their favour in their own zone, block a tonne of shots, etc. Canada was activating their defence as a response to the “collapse,” creating some chances, but Haugen (KHL goalie, Dynamo Minsk) was up to the task in the first period. Norway was picking their spots the other way, with a few half chances against the run of play, as was their gameplan.
The period was mostly all Canada, with a late Norway powerplay. It’s a tough ask of Carey Price to stay alert when so much possession is going the other way, but he stayed sharp when called upon. It took Canada a period to breakthrough in Vancouver, and that was on home ice. They have to figure out the tricks to the big ice game, which Norway, to a man, plays on professionally.
It was 0-0 for Norway after 1, as Ron McLean put it, while Don Cherry sounded like he was soothing himself out of a panic attack with a “we’re alright” refrain at the intermission.
Canada came out with relentless pressure in early 2nd. Jeff Carter missed a point blank chance created by the top line a minute and a half into the period (missed badly). Jamie Benn generated a good chance as well after driving into the slot off the boards.
Signs of the ongoing adjustment became obvious: Drive wide, stretch the width of the ice, use the points, open some lanes, draw Norway out into man to man situations.
The breakthrough finally came off the stick of Shea Weber, a booming, rising clapper that beat Haugen over the shoulder. That’s one he probably doesn’t see too often overseas.
The Toews, Sharp and Nash line somehow didn’t score off a Doughty point shot – deflected by Toews – that hit a post and bounded around the goal mouth. Canada was coming on relentlessly, smelling blood as the Norwegian front started to crack, but Haugen looked liable to keep Norway in it/maintain a respectable scoreline all on his own.
The Tavares, Benn and Bergeron line was looking most dangerous despite limited ice time. The trio made it 2-0 on Canada’s 13th shot of the period. The play started wide before Benn took a pass on the back post and sniped, post and in, off one leg. Patrice Bergeron assisted on both goals to this point.
So Jamie Benn drew the delayed penalty before Weber’s goal, nearly got smoked by Tollefsen and scored in that period. Had 2:54 of ice time.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 13, 2014
This was a dominant period featuring just one shot from Norway. There was some praise for the Norwegian effort on the broadcast, and good for them for hanging around and keeping it respectable — but it was a game that could’ve just as easily been 4 or 5 to nothing if more breaks went Canada’s way.
Norway started the third period on the powerplay after Duncan Keith lost his stick and took a holding call at the end of the 2nd. Carey Price misplayed the puck behind the net off a dump in; after the fumble behind the net, a shot took a deflection off Patrick Thoresen on the PP to make it 2-1.
Canada’s quick responses snuffed out any sense of panic. Ryan Getzlaf kept the play alive in the offensive zone and sent the puck back to the point, where Drew Doughty split a pair of Norwegian forwards and backhanded it in from the left of the net.
Sharp, Toews and St. Louis (rotated onto the line as a 13th forward) worked a two minute long shift in the offensive zone shortly thereafter. Team Canada was able to brings in fresh legs into their cycle.
Canada’s defence was effective in this game at providing offensive opportunities, starting sequences off by getting shots through, actively pinching down the boards, joining—or starting—the rush, using the width of the ice on the big surface.
John Tavares joined Chris Kunitz and Sidney Crosby as the swing man on the PP. If a little tense, he looked good and it was nice to see him tested and eased into the lineup; hopefully gets a look at 5v5 with Crosby at some stage.
The game pretty much fizzled out with Norway content to simply keep things respectable and build on the performance against more beatable opponents.
If there’s something to complain about: Can’t say we’re confident Jeff Carter can play at the pace Crosby is playing at; he seems to be a full measure behind their tempo of play. He can skate and has a quick release, but Crosby throws extremely hard passes into areas he expects his linemates to be in; if he can’t anticipate it, the play is broken up.
Otherwise, Canada will look to continue gaining familiarity with new linemates and the big ice in another warmup game against Austria tomorrow.