Czech-Mate: Canada 6 Czech Republic 0
By Greg Johnson
No more waiting around, no more pre-tourney matches, this is the real deal. Today we are officially back into hockey, and what better way to start than on the global stage? After the USA’s loss to team Europe, things stayed hot in Toronto with Team Canada taking on Team Czech Republic.
Things went quickly in favor of Team Canada in the first period. While the game started out with explosive energy from both sides, Canada’s talent soon showed its dominance as the Marchand-Crosby-Bergeron line pummeled on the offense. An early Czech challenge of goalie interference proved incorrect as Crosby opened up the scoring with a deflection off of Czech goalkeeper Neuvirth. After that, Crosby’s leadership and skill took the game over with a secondary assist on a Marchand tip-in goal off the face off, and a textbook service pass to Thornton to tap in a goal in the second period. While 3 points in this game were indeed impressive, Crosby showed us just how effective he is no matter what he tries to do. Including being 86% successful in the faceoff circle. Crosby remained physical and in charge through the rest of the game, and Team Czech Republic were left scratching their heads with what to do, even on the power play. The Czechs were 0 for 6 on the man advantage, which speaks a lot about Canada’s defensive prowess, but not a lot about their ability to stay out of the box.
Worth mentioning is the return of the man who remained as cool as the ice he stood on, Carey Price. Stopping all 27 shots with a sort of confidence that made it look like he was in warm-ups. Zero mistakes, and his stonewalling of the first period Czech energy gave his team the upper hand in confidence that lasted for the entirety of the game. As hockey fans, we are just glad to see him back and if you’re not a Habs fan, enjoy it while he’s not playing your favorite team.
Team Czech Republic will have a lot to ponder on before their next game against Team Europe Monday, most notably their entries, power play, and confidence. Team Canada showed a sort of dominance impossible to contend with, and the Czech team has to shake that off before they continue. Despite the results of this match, they are still a good team. Pastrnak showed some great patience even late in the game, and the defense really started to seem more energized physically as the game went on. As for Canada, while they had a stellar performance, I would like to have seen a lot more from the Tavares-Getzlaf-Stamkos line. An all star grouping came out with a handful of helpers and a chance for Stamkos that got completely robbed by a desperate Neuvirth, but there seemed to be not a lot of stand out efforts beyond that. A small complaint from a stellar performance from the team, but one to note. As the competition goes on, I don’t believe Team Canada will back down. The most exciting matches are still ahead.