As expected, the Norwegians couldn’t put up much of a fight against the high-powered Canadians. The 8-0 win was pretty much as expected after a slow start; Pal Grotnes was pretty good early and when he was replaced after allowing four things went downhill in a hurry for Norway. They did manage a few quality chances, however, mostly on the power play, and early in the first Patrick Thoresen dumped Drew Doughty and stole the puck to get a good shot away in close.
The broadcast crew – notably Pierre McGuire and Nick Kypreos – sounded nervous after the first as Canada failed to convert on two power play chances, and the audience was reminded repeatedly that the poor power play was the bane of the Turin team. That concern disappeared quickly as the Canadians started scoring.
Despite the score, things were a long ways from perfect. The Canadians took several lazy, undisciplined penalties – Eric Staal was exposed on the penalty kill and took a tripping minor, Sidney Crosby retaliated in a moment of anger, earning a roughing penalty, and Dany Heatley took perhaps the stupidest slashing call I’ve ever seen in a fit of pique. The Norwegians had chances; Roberto Luongo may have only had to make 15 saves but some of them were quality and in close. Given the talent disparity between the two clubs, that was surprising.
On a less serious note, while Pierre McGuire is capable of being an insightful commentator, this tournament could get very long very quickly if he doesn’t tone it down a little, apply something resembling a filter, and possibly stop downing a half dozen Red Bulls prior to the game. When it’s 7-0 Canada, nobody needs to hear about how brilliant the coaches are, how wonderfully talented the players are, and how amazing each and every little play is. Some calm analysis and possibly even a bit of a critical commentary (not to be confused with hand-wringing after Canada goes 0-for-2 on the power play or Sidney Crosby passes rather than shooting) would go a long way towards making it easier to listen to the game.
I think my favourite player comment came at the second intermission, from Jarome Iginla, who finished the game with a hat-trick. Asked whether the Canadians needed to shoot the puck more, Iginla injected some reality into the situation, saying “we can’t just shoot from bad angles.” I’ve watched enough hockey to know that every analyst’s solution to offensive woes is to simplify and shoot the puck more, and while sometimes that can be a good idea Iginla is exactly right: a little bit of patience, and a little bit of intelligence in finding prime shooting areas can be a lot more effective than just blasting the puck on net and hoping for the best.
1. Jarome Iginla. The Calgary Flames captain hasn’t had a great season by his lofty standards, but he was the best player on the ice tonight, scoring three goals. His first goal was a perfect shot from the high slot that put Canada ahead 1-0 and seemed to relieve some of the tension after Norway held things close early on.
2. Sidney Crosby. Leaving aside the silly penalty, Crosby managed three assists while centering Canada’s top line, and also won 60% of his face-offs. He played the game we’re used to seeing from him in the NHL – cerebral and effective in all three zones.
3. Roberto Luongo. The temptation here is to name either Nash, who was very effective as the third member of Canada’s top line, or Heatley, who scored two goals, but Luongo actually had to make some very good saves en route to his shutout.
Next matchup: Thursday at 4:30 PT vs. Switzerland.