Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Olympic Men's Hockey Day 1 Review

Canada 8 - Norway 0 - F
Team Canada took a period to find their legs - and perhaps their hands as well - but cruised to a convincing 8-0 victory over the upstart Norwegians. Without their two best players and playing in front of a tremendous Canadian crowd, the Norwegians came out strong and stifled the Canadians attack for the better part of the first period.

The Canadians' line combinations were as follows:
Nash - Crosby - Iginla
Marleau - Thornton - Heatley
Staal - Getzlaf - Perry
Morrow - Richards - Toews/Bergeron

Patrice Bergeron started the game on Canada's top line, but after a Jarome Iginla goal with Crosby and Nash, that new line never looked back. Iginla netted a hat trick on the evening, including a highlight reel 6th goal where every player on the ice touched the puck in a beautiful display of passing by Crosby's line.

Crosby's line definitely gets strong marks on the evening, as does every Canadian line as they all got on the score sheet with at least one goal each.

The defense also looked sturdy. 20 year old Olympic rookie Drew Doughty showed why he was a wise selection as he pulled off a few nice moves and a huge hit in the neutral zone to compliment his steady play.

The Norwegians demonstrated the parity in today's international hockey landscape. Despite never really challenging Canada, they did show that they can tighten up a game and keep the score relatively respectable.

Roberto Luongo was impressive in spot duty, shutting out the Norwegians and making a couple of strong saves during a rather pedestrian 60 minutes where he could be forgiven if his attention wandered.

Canada plays Switzerland on Thursday.

Russia 8 - Latvia 2 - F
Russia opened their tournament in convincing fashion with an 8-2 win over Latvia. The game however may have been a little closer than the score indicated. The Latvians certainly were spirited adversaries and may have deserved a better fate. Latvia found themselves on the short end of a few questionable calls by the officials, and failed to bury their chances as they watched the Russians pull away.

While it's hard to argue the game was ever in doubt - especially with Ovechkin's timely goals - the Latvians certainly provided a tougher challenge to the Russians than the Norwegians did to the Canadians.

USA 3 - Switzerland 1 - F
The Swiss took advantage of the smaller ice surface in an effort to trap the Americans and keep their speedy youth at bay. They gave the American a good challenge, represented by only a modest shot advantage of 24-15 in favour of the Americans.

The USA appeared more determined in the second period, potting two goals before conceding a goal to the Swiss in the third period.

As Jamie Bell as CTV reports, the Americans played a strong game and did not forfeit many quality chances.

Switzerland shutout Canada 2-0 in Torino in 2006 and have a duo of quality goaltenders in Anaheim's Jonas Hiller, and former NHLer Martin Gerber.

The US take on Norway next.

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