Statistics over a short time span are always unreliable, and thus it would be foolish to make any grand assumptions based upon them, but they can help give us an idea of how two teams compare, in this case Canada and Slovakia.
The tables below are the offensive and defensive statistics for each team.
Note: For save percentage I used only the numbers of the goaltenders playing (Luongo, Halak) as it made no sense to drag Canada’s numbers down with Brodeur’s save percentage given that Brodeur will be on the bench.
We get an interesting picture of these two teams. Canada has been incredibly dominant by any measure; they may have a 29 to 12 goals advantage but that’s backed up by their shot totals, as they’ve averaged 21 shots more per game than their opponents. As we’ve seen, those huge shot advantages can lead to success (Russia, Germany) or to cursing the opposition goalie (United States, Switzerland) but they do show a team that has been territorially dominant.
The Canadians have been good but not great on special teams, have limited shots against, and have drawn far more penalties than they’ve taken (as territorially dominant teams tend to do). They have an offensive capability that no team in the tournament can match. At even-strength, nobody can touch them, and that tends to slant the special teams situation in their favour.
The Slovakians have been pretty good. They’ve averaged six more shots per game than their opponents and they’ve done a good job of limiting shots against, but their even-strength offence doesn’t come close to competing with Canada’s (Canada has outscored Slovakia 23-10 at even-strength). By the numbers, their team has three key strengths:
- Team defence
- Jaroslav Halak
- Special teams
They haven’t been a very good team at 5-on-5, just breaking even, but even if they were they couldn’t hope to compete with Canada. Instead, they’ll try and outlast the Canadians through a combination of strong defensive play and reliance on their goalie, and then use their special teams edge to give them a chance at winning.
If they played this game 100 times, Canada would win the series easily. But the Slovakians only need one win and it’s entirely plausible that they’ll surprise everyone and get it here.