Home > Uncategorized > Canada defeats Norway 3-1: Solid or shaky?

Canada defeats Norway 3-1: Solid or shaky?

Julio Cortez/The Associated Press Team Canada defenceman Shea Weber, centre, celebrates with forwards Sidney Crosby, left, and Patrice Bergeron after scoring a goal against Norway during their round-robin game at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, on Thursday. Weber opened the scoring in the second period and Canada went on to win 3-1.

Julio Cortez/The Associated Press
Team Canada defenceman Shea Weber, centre, celebrates with forwards Sidney Crosby, left, and Patrice Bergeron after scoring a goal against Norway during their round-robin game at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, on Thursday. Weber opened the scoring in the second period and Canada went on to win 3-1.

So, what was it?

TSN’s headline read “A Solid Start”.

My future father-in-law, who watched in spurts as the Canadian men’s hockey team defeated Norway 3-1 to open the Olympic tournament in Sochi, Russia, called it “a shaky start.”

Larry Fisher
Larry Fisher

Reality is, Thursday’s effort and outcome rank somewhere in between.

To the casual fan — especially of Canadian descent — who only caught wind of the final score, this result would appear “shaky” at best.

Canada and its NHL-powered roster should destroy Norway on its worst day.

By a five-goal spread bare minimum.

Aside from Mats Zuccarello — not a household name, but leading the New York Rangers in scoring this season — Norway had a bunch of nobodies. No other NHLers to speak of.

That this was a one-goal game early in the third period — and scoreless after the first — had to be considered “shaky” by Canadian standards. Right?

Not necessarily.

Those who tuned in from start to finish can attest that this game was one-sided — as expected — with Canada carrying the play for 40-plus minutes, even if the result didn’t reflect that dominance.

Based on the shot-clock (almost double at 38-20), time of possession and territorial control, this was a “solid” performance.

A fairly strong, if unspectacular, debut is how I’d categorize it upon further review.

Is there room for improvement heading into Friday’s game against Austria? Absolutely.

Should we get our hopes up for another blowout after being “disappointed” in that sense against Norway? Probably not.

A win is a win at the international level, and we must remember that these are the 12 best countries in the sport competing for everything from gold, silver and bronze to pride, respectability and bragging rights.

There are no easy games here. Not even for the defending Olympic champions.

Austria, in my opinion, is more talented than Norway, so a similar score could be in store.

It will certainly be a bigger test for Roberto Luongo than Norway was for Carey Price. Luongo will need to be just as sharp — or sharper — in facing the likes of Thomas Vanek and Michael Grabner, who netted a hat trick on Tuukka Rask in Austria’s 8-4 opening loss to Finland.

At the other end, goaltenders from these perceived “lesser” nations often rise to the occasion and manage to keep things close — as Lars Haugen did for Norway. The floodgates never opened, and there’s no guarantee they will against Austria, either.

My hunch tells me they will, however, and quite a few more Canadian players will find the scoresheet, including Sidney Crosby and John Tavares. For all those betters who lost money on the “over” against Norway, they should win it back against Austria.

My prediction: Canada 6, Austria 2.

Meanwhile, I watched Thursday’s opener in its entirety at the inlaws’ place in Sicamous, B.C., and was live tweeting when the opportunity presented itself. Here is the mash-up of my tweets for those interested:

9:34 a.m. = Almost slept in then had to take bathroom break to start the day but didn’t miss much in first 5 mins! @HockeyCanada #stillscoreless #Sochi

9:36 a.m. = This ice isn’t as tilted as I anticipated…and Canada’s matching lines against Norway? Say whaaat! Babcock’s all business. #plays4keeps

9:37 a.m. = Canada takes game’s first penalty and @sarahalyssa86 pipes up: “It’s rigged, it’s Russia” … she’s still rattled about the orca debacle!

9:38 a.m. = (upon being informed that Norway had already taken a penalty, possibly during aforementioned bathroom break) @shawn_w_smith aggh that’ll learn me for sleeping in ever-so-slightly and not checking the boxscore before settling into the couch. #rookiemove

9:44 a.m. = That was a pretty “meh” first period, or at least a “meh” start for @HockeyCanada. Feel bad for betters who took the over if this keeps up!

9:46 a.m. = @shawn_w_smith I’ve definitely seen better periods, but I’ve seen worse too. Like Grapes just said: “Don’t panic, we’re playing terrific.”

9:47 a.m. = That said, when Canada plays Norway to a scoreless draw in a period, it’s tough to call that terrific from a Canadian standpoint.

9:53 a.m. = This should have been a blowout, likely Canada’s most lopsided result of the tournament, but still lots of time left to pull away. I see 5-1.

9:57 a.m. = This Lars Haugen character deserves some credit, standing pretty tall in Norway net. Canada is getting chances and he’s turning them away!

10:00 a.m. = The announcer’s keep saying the book on Haugen is to shoot high (blocker), but Canada keeps trying to shoot through him. No weak spot in middle of chest. #backtoschool #getitup

10:02 a.m. = Canada is on the board, Shea Weber finds a hole with a high rocket from the point on delayed penalty to lead Norway 1-0. Took 26 minutes to open scoring.

10:04 a.m. = The inlaws aren’t the biggest hockey family but they are very passionate about Olympics and prideful. Weber is their home boy from Sicamous!

10:09 a.m. = Close call there as Toews tips point shot off post and then puck somehow stays out of Norway net on ensuing goal-mouth melee.

10:12 a.m. = Ole Kristian-Tollefsen’s favourite song? Wrecking Ball…one can only assume. He’s head-hunting and almost has a few souvenirs/victims!

10:14 a.m. = Pretty difficult to evaluate Carey Price in a game like this…has faced ZERO shots through 13 minutes of second period, yet still only 1-0.

10:17 a.m. = What a snipe from Jamie Benn to make it 2-0. That’s an all-world shot, an Olympic-calibre shot! #earninghiskeep

10:19 a.m. = Canada’s two goals scored by two B.C. boys — Shea Weber from Sicamous and Jamie Benn from Victoria — and two former @Kelowna_Rockets!

10:24 a.m. = Well, that was better period for Canada, up 2-0 over Norway after two. Maybe not dominant on scoreboard, but certainly on ice. #notevenclose

10:37 a.m. = Thunderstruck in Sochi…gotta love it! #ACDC

10:40 a.m. = Yikes…Norway is on the board with an ugly one on PP to start 3rd and suddenly we have a game again, with Canada only leading 2-1.

10:41 a.m. = Thoresen’s shot through a screen changed direction and beat Price, who had misplayed puck to start sequence that led to the goal. #boredomblunder #halfasleep

10:43 a.m. = Fear not Canada, Drew Doughty makes it 3-1 with a quick reply by dangling through offensive zone and roofing backhand shot over blocker!

10:48 a.m. = Oh, we just got a glimpse of Roberto Luongo on the bench. Future mother-in-law enjoys this part. He’s her fav! But will that be a familiar view for Nucks netminder in Sochi? #cheapseat

10:50 a.m. = Canadian coach Mike Babcock “We can make one goaltending change and win gold. We can’t make two and win gold.” #truerwordsneverbeenspoken #PriceorLuongo

10:52 a.m. = Not much happening in this third period since Canada restored its two-goal cushion at 3-1, but have to think they’d like to run it up a bit.

10:55 a.m. = Yet again, announcers bring up Haugen’s “left ear” weakness…leave the poor guy alone, he’s having game of his life against world’s best!

10:59 a.m. = Canada back on the power play now, still waiting for Crosby to do something special. He’s been near invisible in opener!

11:02 a.m. = Crosby is a big-game player and this isn’t exactly the biggest game…but he should try to pad the stats if he’s going to be MVP!

11:07 a.m. = Don’t get me wrong, Canada is dominating this game, but I expected more, umm, “finish” against a team like Norway. #whynofillnet #wewantgoals

11:11 a.m. = Norwegians going on PP to end game…worth noting @sarahalyssa86 predicted “close, like 3-2” result. I had 6-1. #shemightberight #Iwaswayoff

11:13 a.m. = Price makes routine save in dying seconds and future father-in-law blurts out: “If Luongo was in net…” Hilarity ensues — except from his wife, who keeps pumping Luooo’s tires and raving about his “dreamy eyes”!

11:15 a.m. = Luongo will get his chance to make impression and win over his critics Friday morning against Austria. Then whoever gets Finland is starter!

11:17 a.m. = Canada “hangs on” for 3-1 win over Norway. Not as close as score indicates but effort still being described as “shaky start” here.

11:18 a.m. = 3 stars of this game on CBC: Shea Weber, Drew Doughty and Patrice Bergeron. Canadian sweep. No love for Lars Haugen (Norway goalie). #homers

11:22 a.m. = (@Sletten_C “need some time to get their bearings” in reply to “shaky start” comment): probably true and we shall see what tomorrow brings…definitely needs to be a marked improvement (with more goals)!

Larry Fisher is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier in Kelowna, B.C. Follow him on Twitter: @LarryFisher_KDC.

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