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Canada’s patience pays off versus Finns, but forwards aren’t scoring

Feb 16, 2014, 3:33 PM EDT

Sochi Olympics Ice Hockey Men AP

SOCHI, Russia — Team Canada has now played three games at these Olympics. Two of them have been against tournament minnows Norway and Austria, the other versus injury-ravaged Finland. In total, Canada has scored 10 times in regulation, plus one more in overtime. And of those 11 goals, only five have been scored by forwards.

Now, to be fair, Canada has only surrendered two goals, finishing the preliminary round with a plus-9 goal differential. And that’s good. But for a team that’s overflowing with world-class scorers — Sidney Crosby, John Tavares, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Patrick Sharp all entered the Games among the top 10 in NHL scoring — suffice to say, five goals in three contests is not what was expected from this talented group of forwards.

Tonight against Finland, the forwards were held scoreless entirely, with defenseman Drew Doughty notching his third and fourth of the tournament to give his team the 2-1 overtime win — a victory that came with a spot in the quarterfinals.

“We had a good test of our patience today, and our game,” said Crosby. “We did a good job of holding onto the puck. We didn’t necessarily generate the goals that we wanted, but our patience was tested and we did a good job of sticking with it.”

VIDEO: Canada needs OT to beat Finns

Can it be hard to stay patient in a game like tonight’s?

“You understand that’s the only way you’re going to have success,” he said. “I think we all believe in the way we play, and every guy there. It’s really not that difficult. You’ve just got to remind yourself to do it. That’s just more of focusing on what you need to do to win than trying to fight it. I think we did a real good job of that tonight.”

Getzlaf did suggest one area for improvement when Canada meets the winner of Switzerland and Latvia.

“Tonight we played a little bit too much on the outside,” he said, “and we’ll adjust that for the next one.”

But like Crosby, he lauded the team for sticking to the system: “You’ve got to stay patient, and we did in the end.”

Tavares, meanwhile, thought the refereeing played a role.

“I thought we controlled most of the play,” he said. “Obviously it seemed like the whistles were put away for the most part. There was not much room, even when you consider how big the rink is. Just trying to get to the middle of the ice, and trying to get some pucks in front of the net wasn’t easy tonight. We did a good job of sticking with it and controlling the play, and it paid off for us.”

Looking ahead, if Switzerland does as expected and dispatches Latvia, Canada will face a team that’s allowed just one goal in the entire tournament. In fact, all three of the Swiss games have ended in a 1-0 score, with victories over Latvia and the Czech Republic and a loss to Sweden.

The way things have gone, Canada may need to stay patient again.

“We had some real good chances, especially in the third [versus Finland],” said Crosby, “still playing the right way, not giving up a whole lot and being able to generate chances.

“I think you’ve got to trust that and trust that they’ll go in, but there wasn’t a lot to be had. I think it was pretty tight. It was a battle to fight for every inch to get to the front of the net. If that’s the game you’re going to have to play, you’re going to have to be pretty opportunistic.”

  1. patthehockeyfan - Feb 16, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    Crosby: “We didn’t necessarily generate the goals that we wanted, but our patience was tested and we did a good job of sticking with it.”

    Sticking with patience has, so far, won games. It’s a little worrisome, though. And how long will ‘being patient’ hold out?

    I’m rooting for both North American teams. Babcock needs to do something, shift around something, pray to something, that these elite goal scorers start scoring.

    • blomfeld - Feb 16, 2014 at 7:08 PM

      “Thank goodness for Drew Doughty” …

      hey Pat … you do realize who’s doing it all for Canada eh ?

      gimme a D ! … gimme an R ! … gimme an E ! … gimme a W !

  2. narfmoo12 - Feb 16, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    Maybe Giroux and Thornton over Kunitz and Nash would have helped. Everyone except Yzerman, Pens fans and Rangers fans knows those were dumb picks.

    • patthehockeyfan - Feb 16, 2014 at 3:47 PM

      Okay, narfmoo12. We know you don’t like Kunitz and Nash. But, imagining a different team with Giroux and Thornton is an unnecessary and unfulfilled dream. They’re not on the team. Period.

      Both Nash and Kunitz are talented. As is Crosby, and he hasn’t done much either yet.

      Canada’s been figuring out a way to win without these guys scoring. Let’s hope the winning continues.

    • kaptaanamerica - Feb 16, 2014 at 4:05 PM

      Giroux yes, Thornton no.

      Babcock should put Crosby on checking duty and guys who deserve a shot on the top line. I’d like to see Tavares centering Sharp and st.Louis on the top line, or Benn and Duchene.

  3. westof1club - Feb 16, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    Forwards aren’t scoring, but Crosby has his eye on a gold medal. However, he should know diving is a summer Olympic event.

  4. pmonte3122 - Feb 16, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    Here’s another headline; Canada sucks

    • patthehockeyfan - Feb 16, 2014 at 4:09 PM

      If sucks means that they’re winning, then, yes, you’re right.

    • angrytwitterguy - Feb 16, 2014 at 4:21 PM

      Typical ignorant America that most of the planet despises.

      • pastabelly - Feb 16, 2014 at 7:00 PM

        Listen to NHL Radio enough and it’s easy to root against Canada. What a complex they have north of the border about having to be the best at hockey and the worst thing in the world is the US being as good or better. Get over yourselves.

  5. hammerhead5573 - Feb 16, 2014 at 4:41 PM

    I wouldn’t push the panic button yet. When the chips are down, the Canadians can and may score a ton of goals. This is only game 3. I’m pulling for the U.S. But will not be surprised if Canada tears it up in the next game or 2.

  6. deezenucks - Feb 17, 2014 at 12:31 AM

    Pasta who are you kidding man, pot calling the kettle black much? That basically describes how USA operates in regards to everything in the world… You don’t think the world roots against you? That should be pretty obvious by now. Your jealous tears taste delicious!

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