Despite Rout, Canada Far From A Finished Product
Wednesday, 02.17.2010 / 5:34 PM / News
By Dan Rosen - NHL.com senior writer
|Canada beat Norway 8-0 in their first match of the 2010 Olympic Games.
Switzerland is their next opponent (victim?), but first the team will gather for practice Wednesday to go over just about anything you can think of. Despite beating Norway, 8-0, Tuesday night, coach Mike Babcock harped on the fact that his club is not a finished product by any stretch.
"As much as coaches know these players and watch them, until you coach them you don't really know them," Babcock said. "We're a work in progress and we're trying to get better, but in order to get better we have to understand them a little bit, how they play, and put them in the right situations to be successful."
He definitely found some of the answers, at least for the short term, in the rout of Norway.
Jarome Iginla looked good skating on Sidney Crosby's right side with Rick Nash on the left. Patrice Bergeron, Mike Richards, Jonathan Toews and Brenden Morrow all played their roles well in a fourth-line rotation.
The Sharks' trio of Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley was considered inseparable before the tournament began and it's the same way now. And the sizable line of Ryan Getzlaf with Corey Perry and Eric Staal looks like it can be a winner, too.
"I think every day you're going to feel each other out a little bit more and learn where each other are going to be," Getzlaf said. "Mike's going to do a job moving the lines around as much as he has until you find those right pairings."
As for the defense, Babcock played all seven, with only Brent Seabrook skating less than 10 minutes (8:46). Drew Doughty, considered the seventh defenseman heading into the tournament, played more than 15 minutes.
"We wanted to play all seven and we wanted to get them going," Babcock said. "We ended up playing three lefts and four rights and I don't think that will continue, but we wanted to use everybody."
The goalie situation remains Canada's most intriguing storyline.
Martin Brodeur is scheduled to start against Switzerland and then Babcock will decide who plays against the U.S. on Sunday, Brodeur or Roberto Luongo.
Luongo stated his case with a shutout Tuesday. He was perfect against 15 shots, but he was a man on an island for swaths of time as Canada kept unrelenting pressure on Norway.
Babcock liked what he saw from Luongo as he did make some big saves at key times, especially early when the game was scoreless through the first period.
"When you look at the scoreboard and there is a zero on it, I always like that," Babcock said. "I thought he made a big, timely save in the second period. He was really big on a screened shot early in the game. To me those are great indications for him.
"I don't think it's a big secret that nobody was really on fire coming into the tournament for us, but that's just because sometimes your mind is somewhere else. I expect them to be really good here. If you're (Luongo) and you got a chance to start today, you're trying to make a statement that you want to start again."
As for what they need to improve on, Canada likely will spend part of Wednesday's practice working on getting pucks in deep and forechecking.
"I think that's going to be a big theme throughout the tournament, get pucks by their D to get to work in the other end," Heatley told NHL.com.
Staying disciplined also may be an important part of Babcock's message. Canada took five penalties against Norway and even had to kill a five-on-three for 48 seconds.
Against Norway you can get away with that. They probably can against Switzerland, too, but the U.S. power play will pose a bigger threat.
"We want to stay out of the box and move our feet," Getzlaf said. "That's always the biggest thing coming into these tournaments, special teams."
It's all big for Canada because no team is under a bigger microscope. But with one game behind them they can focus on all the little things that could add up to a gold medal.
That starts with Wednesday's practice.
"It started it, but it's not done," captain Scott Niedermayer said of gaining chemistry and a feel for one another Tuesday night. "We're going to keep working at it. Practice (Wednesday) and we've talked about that -- wanting to get better. We got better from the first to the third (period) tonight and hopefully we'll continue that in the next game."
Contact Dan Rosen at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Dan Rosen | NHL.com Staff Writer