Canada began its quest for a second men’s hockey gold in the last three Olympics with an 8-0 shellacking of Norway on Tuesday. It had all the makings of a statement game for Canada, despite the inferior opponent, as it used depth and skill to pull away after a shaky first period.
Facing the most pressure of any team in the men’s hockey draw, it was understandable that Canada came out a bit tentative in the first period — and it showed. Even though Canada managed to outshoot the Norwegians 14-4, it was a scoreless game at the first intermission. But unlike Team USA in its 3-1 win over Switzerland, Canada put its foot on the pedal in the second period and never looked back.
The Canadians got going in the second with three goals and then exploded for five more in the third. Forward Jarome Iginla (Calgary Flames) finished with a hat trick, Dany Heatley (San Jose Sharks) had two goals, Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) had three assists and Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron had an assist.
The Canadians' scoring reflected the amazing depth of the team, as 17 players registered at least one point. And that depth seems to be why, despite the fact that the game went as expected, this was a message to the competition that Canada is the clear-cut favorite.
The instant chemistry between players like Crosby and Iginla — and the already established chemistry of the four San Jose Sharks on the team, Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle, Patrick Marleau and Heatley — was a clear indication that this team is as good as advertised. Crosby almost appeared to be toying with the Norwegians, as exemplified by his patience before passing to Iginla on Canada's first goal.
Canada was 2-for-6 on the power play but moved the puck so precisely that it will only get better as the tournament goes on.
Goaltender Roberto Luongo (Vancouver Canucks) didn’t have much work to do in the shutout, but he was there when needed. Martin Brodeur (New Jersey Devils) is expected to get the next two starts, but Canada has plenty of depth between the pipes, with Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh Penguins) available as an option as well.
Not only did Canada do what it was supposed to do on Tuesday, but it did it in convincing fashion, making it known that it won't be crushed by the pressure of playing on home soil.
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