|Photo by Jukka Rautio/HHOF-IIHF|
If results are the only thing that matters, Team Canada is doing just fine.
However, coach Ken Hitchcock has to at least be a little concerned with the overall play of his team right now at the IIHF World Championship.
Yesterday they trailed 2-1 after two periods to the U.S. Sure, they came back and won 4-3. Yet, that was in a shootout. And Ty Conklin was in goal for the U.S.
Should that really have been a problem for an offense being led by Rick Nash, James Neal, Jason Spezza, Jordan Eberle, Matt Duchene, John Tavares, Jeff Skinner, etc.?
Maybe the group says ‘Hey, we put 50+ shots on goal. What more do you want from us?’
Could be. Moving on…
Things looked good when Canada was up 3-0 with 10 minutes left to play in the third. Then, Bernier gave up two (somewhat) soft goals in a less-than-two-minute span and we had a game.
When the clock got down to 90 seconds left Norway pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. However, they couldn’t put another one past Bernier – so Canada won and secured their spot in the quarterfinals.
Bernier finished with 25 of 27 saves and he may not be done in the tournament. Prior to the game Hitchcock said he was giving Bernier a chance because he was told Bernier would be good on the big ice surface. Then, after the win, he was noncommittal about his starter for Canada’s next game on Monday vs. Sweden – saying he’ll sleep on it.
He also said “I was impressed with Bernier. I was impressed with the composure.”
Finally, a few other notes…
After yesterday’s game vs. Canada, Jack Johnson wasn’t looking at things any differently just because of who they were playing - saying “A loss is a loss no matter who you lose to.” He played a team-high 28 minutes and scored on a breakaway (coming out of the penalty box) in the second period that put Team USA up 2-1 lead. He was also the first shooter in the shootout, but missed.
Team USA is playing France this morning, in a game that will air on tape delay later tonight on VERSUS.
In case you haven’t heard, Alexander Ovechkin is now in Slovakia for the tournament. He is practicing today with Team Russia and will play his first game tomorrow vs. the Czech Republic.
That should be interesting. One of my lasting memories from last year’s Olympics in Vancouver was Ovi laying out Jaromir Jagr at center ice during a game between the two countries.