Team Canada Wins the Gold!

GIF: Jonathan Toews falls into the net while celebrating the ... on Twitpic
GIF via Pete Blackburn

There was a lot of self-inflicted angst, and consternation in Canada after the men’s hockey team *only* beat the likes of Austria and Norway by a combined 8 goals. After it took an overtime to beat Finland, and a late 3rd period goal to beat Latvia, some people were misguidedly viewing the perceived lack of offense as some sort of fatal flaw that would eventually catch up to the Canadians.

All of that seems more than silly in retrospect after they went out and thoroughly dominated both the Americans and Swedes en route to repeating as Gold Medalists at the Winter Olympics. Despite the overwhelming built-in expectations that they brought with them into this tournament, they somehow managed to surprise.

It was nothing short of pure, unmitigated excellence. “It was too easy”, “It wasn’t nearly as exciting as it was in 2010”, It was.. Gold.

The Rundown

Based on what we’d seen for the entirety of the tournament leading up to this point, we went into this Gold Medal Game figuring that Canada would have no trouble controlling the action at 5v5. And we were right. In the early going it was all Sidney Crosby and Patrice Bergeron, as they worked together to set up a handful of chances right off the bat. It was only thanks to Henrik Lundqvist’s brilliance that those two didn’t somehow wind up scoring in those first 7-8 minutes of the game.

Sweden actually came very close to being the first to get the board shortly after the aforementioned onslaught, with Gustav Nyquist hitting the post following a nice move to get out front of the net. Price managed to recover just in the knick of time by finding the puck which was between him and the goal line, and covering him. Unfortunately for them, it wound up proving to be the last real time they made Price and the Canadians sweat..

Canadian Hero Jonathan Toews wound up finally putting one on the board when he tipped home a beautiful centering pass from Jeff Carter. Let’s talk about the tournament Jeff Carter had himself, because it was surely worth discussing. After having people question his inclusion on the team, and then more recently plead for him to be healthy scratched following a quiet opener against Norway, he’s done all sorts of great things.

He scored a hat trick in just a matter of minutes against Austria, and then went on to be a key cog in Canada’s shutdown line with Toews and Marleau. As most of the team did, they had to sacrifice some by trading in the offense they’re used to generating at the NHL level for a more defensive approach, but they were damn good in the past couple of games.

They weren’t the only ones that were doing their thing, though, as I thought the 4th line – which feels ridiculous to say, but is still true nonetheless – of Matt Duchene, Marty St.Louis, and Rick Nash was fantastic in this game. Looking at the box score they only logged ~7 minutes of ice-time, but it sure seemed like they were hemming Sweden in their own zone and making them run around every single time they were out there. Good on St.Louis, who has had a minimal role on this team as the 13th forward/healthy scratch after being the last guy to make the team.

Yet still, despite all of that good stuff the game was only 1-0 with the clock winding down on the 2nd period. But then this happened..

GIF: Sidney Crosby with the takeaway leading to his first goa... on Twitpic

Good lord is Sidney Crosby good at hockey. He caught a lot of flack for essentially the entirety of the tournament because of the fact that he hadn’t scored a single goal.. despite the fact that he had been generating chances for his team like a mad man. He was due, and it was cool to see him not only have a whale of a game, but score that sweet goal to break Sweden’s back. I’d like to think even the least rational ones out there will be out of ammo for their wild Sidney Crosby vendetta.

It’s not like we hadn’t seen a team blow a 2-0 lead late in a Gold Medal game very recently, but it was pretty clear for the full 20 minutes of the 3rd period that the Swedes basically had about as good a chance of scoring on the Canadians as the Latvians did in a similar situation. They were thoroughly outclassed, as Canada kept their foot on the gas pedal. Readers of the blog must’ve felt weird seeing a team just relentlessly attack their opponent despite having the comfort of a lead to fall back on.

Fittingly, it was Chris Kunitz who sniped the 3rd insurance goal by Henrik Lundqvist to officially put a bow on the game. I’ve been awfully critical of him in recent days, but some context and perspective needs to be taken into consideration. I think Kunitz is a very legitimate good hockey player, and basically every team in the NHL would consider themselves fortunate to have his services.

The issue, though, is that Team Canada isn’t just any team, and he’d be taking away opportunities from other, more deserving players. Much of the reason that Crosby hadn’t been racking up the points in this tournament could be directly attributed to Kunitz subtly blowing numerous opportunities to put the puck into the net. He hadn’t necessarily played *poorly* (in fact, he was quite effective against the United States).. but he had failed to finish the chances that had been handed on a silver gold platter to him, and that was the whole point of my argument against having him on the team.

But as people usually tend to do online, they got carried away with their passionate disliking for him, and started to lose the plot a little bit. From a compassionate human being point of view, it was cool to see him put that all behind him and finally get a tally next to his name. In the grand scheme of things it’ll be kind of interesting to see how he and his role on this team are remembered years from now..

The Numbers

Scoring chances for the tournament: 139-47.

Shots on goal for the tournament: 241 for, 129 against.

Goal differential for the tournament: 16 for, 3 against.

Number of seconds spent trailing: 0.

Team Canada is good at hockey.

The Aftermath

The NHL is back on Tuesday with a game between the Hurricanes and Sabres (making up for a previously postponed game), and the Canucks themselves next play on Wednesday when St.Louis comes to town. Along with that there’s the Heritage Classic game against the Senators, and the trade deadline to look forward to. The next couple of weeks will be busy and we’ll get back into our regular programming in the coming days.

But for now.. enjoy this. Even Dan Hamhuis is smiling!

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  • Marsh

    I am confused by the stunned look on Sedin’s face late in this game. Shouldn’t he be used to this by now…disappearing and not showing up for big games and losing. Don’t get why he was stunned…it is the story of his career.

    • Just One Cup

      To make this comment against Daniel is ridiculous…..why didn’t you make the same comment against Phil Kessel or any of the other U.S. or Finnish players? Maybe because it was TEAM CANADA that was so GOOD nobody could beat them?

    • Marsh

      Daniel was on the Swedish Gold Medal team in the Turin Olympics,the Gold winning team at the 2013 IIHF World championships and the Gold Medal winning team at the 1998 World Junior U-18 championships. The Canucks have not had a losing regular season since the Sedins joined the team in 2000. If not winning the Stanley Cup makes a player a “loser”, then one would have to label as such, Peter Stastny, Marcel Dionne, Brad Park, Jean Ratelle, Pat Lafontaine, Gilbert Perreault…

      • Just One Cup

        Including Sedin’s name with the likes of Stastny, Dionne, Park, Ratelle, Lafontaine, and Perreault is an insult to those players. Yes..Sedin has won on the international stage when he was CARRIED by an all star quality team around him. When he is the man he wins NOTHING! And how many more years of this misery do we have to put up with in Vancouver. The canucks will win NOTHING with him in our organization.

      • Brent

        Including Sedin’s name with the likes of Stastny, Dionne, Park, Ratelle, Lafontaine, and Perreault is an insult to those players. Yes..Sedin has won on the international stage when he was CARRIED by an all star quality team around him. When he is the man he wins NOTHING! And how many more years of this misery do we have to put up with in Vancouver. The canucks will win NOTHING with him in our organization.

        • Brent

          Oh Clayton,

          Go somewhere else other than here. Here we respect players skill, backed up with statistics. You irrational hate, just because Vancouver has not won a Stanley cup, just doesn’t get any truck here. I guess you will have to go back and name every player who played for Vancouver in your list of players that have done NOTHING! Grow up.

          Oh yes, and what a display of total domination! Actually got a little boring, I think the US game was more exciting.

        • asdf

          i find it hilarious that you’re mocking daniel sedin’s career like he has accomplished nothing because he was chosen to play with great players and represent his country. go stand in front of a mirror and keep telling yourself that.

    • Just One Cup

      Nice to sully Canada’s win with irrational Sedin hate.

      Whether they’d have Backstrom or not with his questionable suspension by the questionable IOC was immaterial — Sweden was really not going to compete with Canada in this one. Too many strong players on top of their games. We could have iced two teams and had both make the final.

      How many minutes did Hamhuis play in the final? I was looking for him but didn’t see him — is that screen cap from the final minute? I thought Edler and Daniel actually looked pretty solid, relied on pretty heavily. Coming back from the Olympics Kesler, Edler and Daniel are all going to be tired, Luongo, Hamhuis, Weber and Diaz not so much. I wonder if the Blackhawks with their ten roster players are going to have a letdown.

  • Mantastic

    Some people just like being contrarians because they think it makes them intelligent. It makes them look like the morons that they are. To take a well played hockey game by Team Canada and throw in a dig at Daniel Sedin is a waste of time effort and breath on Clayton’s part. Team Canada was dominant and price played excellent the whole tourney. Would be nice to see the two teams at full strength, but Canada improved every game and deserved the gold.

    Doubt the pros will be back in South Korea. The only reason they played in Russia is because the Russian players would have left the nHL to play. No one is going to be ready to bolt to SKorea. Good to see Canada go out with back to back Gold. Olympics will probably be more like a World Juniors from now on and that’s not a bad thing. Good to see young future stars compete on that stage.

    • DCR

      I, for one, would be pretty happy watching promising juniors players playing with veterans from leagues that let their players go for the Olympics.

      Good win for Canada, they were really stifling this whole tournament. Honestly, despite the speed Canada had, they were also probably the generally biggest team, especially when compared to the European teams.

  • DCR

    Wow…such love for a guy that has won nothing for the franchise he has spent his entire career with. Guess that is why the Canucks have never won anything…satisfied with players only interested in racking up the stats and then disappearing when the games count…or when the going gets tough. Enjoy the rest of the Sedin era. I will continue to express by feeling about the Sedins by not attending a single Canucks game until they are gone…this is season number 4 that I have sold off every single game from my season ticket pack…and anticipate doing the same for the next 4 seasons.