February 14 2014 03:44PM
That's Donald S. Cherry, giving a hearty THUMBS UP! to Team Canada following their almost routine demolition of thoroughly inferior hockey club. The people that were crying for the team to show more of a killer instinct en route to building up a healthy goal differential following their win yesterday by *only* two goals, got what they wanted. Six, count 'em, six goals goals were scored, all by the good guys.
And in something of an ironic twist, the team wearing the Nazi uniforms eviscerated a bunch of Austrians. We'll leave it at that, and get into some analysis, scoring chance data, and Canucks-specific discussion just past the jump.
Jeff Carter is a gritty, rugged Canadian warrior.
I guess as good a place to start as any is with Jeff Carter, who was a guy that fans of the team were asking to be healthy scratched following an opening performance that wasn't exactly inspiring. Dating back all the way to January 7th when he was announced as a member of Team Canada, I was defending him because of the one legitimately useful and discernible skill on his resume: the ability to score goals at an elite level.
So when Carter scored 3 goals in 2:42 of ice-time in the 2nd period, I wasn't exactly overly surprised. That's what he does, and has done for years and years now. Which is more than I can say about the mythical creature known as Chris Kunitz who supposedly does all of these very important intangible things that we can't see, but are expected to believe are there.
That shouldn't be misconstrued as Chris Kunitz hate by any means, because he's a fine hockey player. Despite all of the bad things that are said about him, he's a legitimate top-6 winger at the NHL level so let's keep that in perspective. The problem, though, is that there are significantly better options available that are being held back because of this ridiculous notion that he's one of the only players out that is capable of playing next to Sidney Crosby, the best player on planet Earth. Feel free to go to Bob McKenzie's Twitter feed for some really backwards and inane logic as to why Babcock won't be giving in to the pleas of the country's fans by demoting him. This horse is dead.
As you'll see when you get to the scoring chance data below, the Tavares-Bergeron-Benn line was once again fantastic and totally stood out from the pack, despite once again not being given an overly generous amount of ice-time.
And finally, check out Ryan Getzlaf's wicked goal. Then check out this still of the carnage. I'm still getzlaffing:
Image via Pete Blackburn
The Scoring Chances
These bad boys are brought to you by our buddy Cam Charron, who tracked the chances for his thorough recap over at Yahoo(ooooooooo!). While we're on the topic of gamers that were really top notch, allow me to plug Justin Bourne's over at Backhand Shelf. He went with the "10 thoughts" method, and after reading through it I was experiencing neck pain from all of the vigorous nodding I found myself doing. As he usually tends to be, he was pretty on point with his analysis of the situation. Heartily recommend giving both of those a read (after you're done here, of course!)
Here are the individual scoring chance differentials:
And here are the cumulative team totals:
Image via Bonks Mullet
I thought that Roberto Luongo looked fantastic in this one, beyond just the shutout he posted. He only wound up needing to make 22 shots in a game where his team scored 6 goals for him (which must've been an out of body experience of sorts, given what he's had to deal with this season in Vancouver).
But unlike Price against Norway yesterday, he actually had to make a handful of saves that were needed to thwart legitimate dangerous opportunities. Michael Grabner ran iron against him in the 1st period, but beyond that he looked like he was completely dialed in between the pipes. His positioning seemed to be very good as he made a couple of saves on shots that changed directions on him, and that's probably a testament to how well he was tracking the puck.
His shutout presents Mike Babcock and his coaching staff with a rather interesting decision heading into Sunday's contest against Finland (who have scored a whopping 14 goals in their two games thus far). While the coaching staff made it sound like the two goalies would be participating in an open competition of sorts for the job, Pierre LeBrun suggested that the plan was to have Carey Price be the guy.
If the former is actually true, then I don't see how you can go away from Roberto Luongo right now given what we just saw him do. Of course, it's difficulty to evaluate a goaltender's performance when he's hanging out watching his team crush an inferior opponent, and while Price didn't necessarily do anything wrong (other than the misplay of the puck that led to the only goal against), Luongo's showing was far superior.
So if LeBrun's assertions from before the tournament are correct, the team will indeed go back to Price; proving that the whole "give each guy a start and go from there" thing was a farse.. which would strike me as an odd and unnecessary thing to do. Ultimately I don't necessarily think they can really butcher the situation either way since both guys are well above average and the skaters in front of them are the best ones in the league, but it's just a situation that I find interesting given all of the uncertainty surrounding it.
"How do you think I feel?"
As was expected, Dan Hamhuis was the odd man out in favour of PK Subban. Following the game Mike Babcock evaluated Subban's debut performance as "fine", which is pretty apt. He didn't exactly exhilarate the crowd the way he so routinely does at the NHL level, but he also didn't look out of place and most importantly didn't screw anything up. So that means he'll be sticking around, and hopefully the longer leash and vote of confidence will free him up to play more like we know that he's capable of playing.
Back to Hamhuis: it has already been announced that he's going to draw back in v. Finland, though the defenseman that'll make way for him hasn't. I figure the most likely candidate is Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Regardless of who it happens to ultimately be, maybe Hamhuis will finally be able to turn that frown upside down!