Team Canada vs. Team Czech Republic Recap


Czech-Mate: Canada 6  Czech Republic 0

 

By Greg Johnson

Staff Writer

 

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.

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Team Canada Preview: Goaltending


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By Sie Nicole

Staff Writer

 

Thank the hockey gods for Carey Price.

 

Price, of the Montreal Canadiens, is slated to start in goal for Team Canada, having last done so at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. There, he held down the crease with a save percentage of .971, winning both a gold medal and the Best Goaltender Award. The concern with Price is that he missed a significant amount of last season recovering from an MCL sprain in his knee. He’s been cleared for play, though, and feels ready to come back. As the 2014-15 winner of the Veniza Trophy, William M. Jennings Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, Hart Trophy, and Lou Marsh Trophy, it goes without saying that he’ll be welcomed back with open arms.

 

But it wouldn’t be Team Canada if they didn’t have a solid backup plan and boy, do they have one.

 

Braden Holtby is coming off a career season with the Washington Capitals. Holtby’s goaltending helped bring Washington a nearly record-setting President’s Trophy (they ended one point shy of tying the club’s highest number of points in a season). He did manage to set Washington’s record for wins in a single season by winning 48 games last year. In total, he holds eight records for goaltending on the Capitals. His save percentage of .922 jumped to .942 during their 2016 playoff run, earning him the Vezina Trophy for outstanding goaltending. Holtby very well could hold his own as Team Canada’s starting goaltender, but he’s made it clear that it’s Price’s job.

 

Should extenuating circumstances occur, Team Canada even has an excellent Plan C.

 

Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks. Crawford’s regular season numbers are comparable to Holtby’s, with his save percentage at .924 and goals against average at 2.37. In 2015, he shared the William M. Jennings Trophy with Carey Price. That same year, he was part of the Stanley Cup winning Blackhawks team, making him the only Team Canada goalie with a Stanley Cup under his belt. Not too shabby for a second backup.
Team Canada’s goalies suit up for the first time at 7 pm on Friday September 9th at Nationwide Arena in Columbus in a pre-tournament game against Team USA.

Team Canada Preview: Forwards


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By Sie Nicole

Staff Writer

 

Team Canada is regularly referred to as the toughest roster to crack in the world of hockey. The depth of talent coming from Canada makes the competition stiff – consideration alone is an accomplishment within itself.

 

For this year’s new renovated World Cup of Hockey, however, Team Canada is faced with a unique problem: Team North America, comprised of players under the age of 23 from Canada and the United States. Suddenly, Canada’s accessible talent pool is significantly smaller.

 

Despite that, Canada’s roster is shaping up into something imposing. The favorites to win the tournament have a stacked roster of all stars. Team Canada is known for offensive power and this year is no different.

 

These were the practice lines on Monday:

 

Brad Marchand (Bruins) – Sidney Crosby (Penguins) – Patrice Bergeron (Bruins)

Logan Couture (Sharks) – Jonathan Toews (Blackhawks) – Tyler Seguin (Stars)

John Tavares (Islanders) – Ryan Getzlaf (Ducks) – Steven Stamkos (Lightning)

Matt Duchene (Avalanche) – Claude Giroux (Flyers) – Joe Thornton (Sharks)

Corey Perry (Ducks)

 

Of course, practice lines get moved around all the time, but if something clicked with those lines, Team Canada is going to be both fun and terrifying on the ice.

 

Marchand and Bergeron are likely to remain on line together, building off their natural chemistry from the regular season in Boston. Paired with Sidney Crosby, the top line is a fairly solid guarantee that their opponents are going to be spending as little time as possible possessing the puck. Logan Couture slides to the wing on the second line, filling in the roster spot for Jamie Benn, who is recovering from a core muscle surgery. While Tyler Seguin has more experience playing with Benn, it will be interesting to see what he produces with Couture – the 2016 post-season scoring leader – and Toews. Filling it out with players like Giroux and Stamkos, this is a team where the bottom six are equally as tough as the top six.

 

That’s not to say that there aren’t concerns with the roster.

 

The biggest of these is that many of the forwards are playing out of position. Only Marchand and Perry are full time wingers, though Seguin played wing during his time with the Bruins. It will take getting used to – but with the talent and experience in the room, it could just as easily be a non issue.

 

Missing out on the younger talent Canada has to offer is a tough blow, but having to play against a team of younger players isn’t a death sentence for this team. Worries about older players losing their speed are quelled by the experience on this roster. This is an offensive core with plenty of experience in tournaments like this, which Team North America lacks. That could make a major difference.

 

Sidney Crosby was named the team’s captain, with Jonathan Toews and defenseman Shea Weber as alternates. Crosby captained Team Canada at the 2015 IIHF Worlds Tournament and the 2014 Sochi Olympics, leading both teams to gold medal victories. Teammates Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are also former IIHF Worlds Team Canada captains, in 2012 and 2016, respectively. Ten of the thirteen forwards have worn a letter for their current club.

 

No matter what, Team Canada’s offense is going to be exciting.
Team Canada makes its debut in a pre-tournament game against Team USA at 7 pm EST on Friday September 9th at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.

Team Canada Preview: Defenseman


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By Sie Nicole

Staff Writer

 

While widely known for producing offensive talent, there’s no shortage of defense in Canada. Notably, in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Team Canada changed strategies and leaned heavily on defense. Playing defensively has proved effective for the team, earning them a gold medal in Sochi.

 

The current roster boasts the 2015-16 Norris Memorial winner, Drew Doughty, as well as his fellow nominee, Brent Burns. Shea Weber will be an alternate captain to Team Canada, reprising his role from the 2014 Olympics. Alex Pietrangelo will be making his debut since being named captain of the St. Louis Blues last month. Due to a knee injury from last season, Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks had to withdraw from the tournament. The two-time Norris Trophy winner was replaced with Jay Boumeester of the Blues, a veteran of Team Canada.

 

The projected pairings for the World Cup are:

 

Marc-Edouard Vlasic (Sharks) – Shea Weber (Canadiens)

Jake Muzzin (Kings) – Drew Doughty (Kings)

Alex Pietrangelo (Blues) – Brent Burns (Sharks)

Jay Boumeester (Blues)

 

While Vlasic and Doughty were a stellar combination in 2014, the addition of Doughty’s Kings teammate breaks the pair up, opting instead to leave Muzzin and Doughty’s chemistry undisturbed. This is a hardly a loss for Vlasic, though. He’s coming off a Stanley Cup Playoff run where he was a critical shutdown defenseman, tasked with keeping players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Anze Kopitar from scoring – and succeeding. He’s a quiet presence, but an effective one. It would be remiss of other teams to underestimate him.

 

The addition of Brent Burns brings a unique offensive angle to this defensive squad. He was among the playoff scoring leaders this year, accumulating 24 points. In the regular season, he finished with a career high 75 points. As a former forward, Burns has a skill set that will be an important component to Team Canada’s power play.

 

If Team Canada continues to play a defensively driven game, there should be no doubts about their ability to succeed with this lineup.
Watch Team Canada in their first pre-tournament game against Team USA at 7 pm EST on Friday September 9th at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.