Hello, Mother Russia.
Team Canada currently stands atop Group B, sporting a very healthy 3-0 record in preliminary action, but they’ll have to defeat the talented Russians to secure the sweep in the second of back-to-back games.
I think they’re ready.
Canada next plays on Monday, December 31st at 8:30 am/5:30 am (ET/PT) against the pesky Russians.
1) We’ve seen decent crowd support for the Canadians so far in the tournament, but it’s fair to say Team Russia will receive the majority of cheers tomorrow. In fact, the Canadians will likely find themselves playing in hostile territory. Does the crowd prove an advantage for the Russians or will their supporters’ foreign taunts fall on deaf Canadian ears?
The crowd was loud, the crowd was rabid, but it was also ineffective. In the end, only the Canadian bench was left with something to cheer – an impressive 4-1 win over the home team. Team Canada is now the favourite to win this tournament.
2) Canada cruised through the first and second games of the tournament, collecting 15 goals in the process. However, they were only able to muster two first period goals against the Americans in yesterday’s game. The Russians aren’t known to give up many goals themselves, but last year’s semifinal between Canada and Russia saw a total of 11 goals scored between the two teams. Unfortunately, the edge went the wrong way. Will their first meaningful match-up since that fateful night stand as a low-scoring affair, a high-scoring affair or – dare I say it – a blowout for one team over the other?
This one is hard to judge. The Canadians certainly took the edge in shots on net and a 4-1 win might sound lopsided, but the last goal was scored on an empty net and the Russians kept playing like they were only one long pass out of the game. It wasn’t a blowout by any stretch of the imagination, but I was blown away by Canada’s sheer dominance over their former Cold War nemesis. Will we see them again in the final?
3) Tomorrow’s match-up against Team Russia represents Canada’s second game in two nights. The coaching staff and players claim this won’t be a problem, but I’m sure the Russians will come out strong and try to exhaust the young Canadians before the blow of the first whistle. Canada also played two bodies short last night - Boone Jenner and J.C. Lipon serving out separate suspensions – but this may actually be an advantage since their fresh bodies will be rejoining the team tomorrow. Is fatigue really a factor or is the return of Jenner and Lipon enough of a boost for the team to win the game?
There was no signs of slowness in Canada’s game. They set an early pace to the game and kept the pressure on Russia from the opening whistle until the final one. At the same time, it was certainly an advantage to see Jenner return. He was solid on the penalty kill, keeping the Russian preoccupied along the boards deep in their own end all by himself. Glad to have him back.
4) Malcolm Subban surrendered three goals a piece against Team Germany and Team Slovakia, but he stood on his head against a much stronger team in dispatching the Americans last night. Subban was solid in this game, allowing only one goal on 37 shots. This is the Subban many Canadians expected to show up, and this is the Subban the Canadians need to see tomorrow against the Russians. Who is the real Subban?
He wasn’t busy, but he got the job done when called upon to act. This was another beauty from Malcolm “The Statement” Subban.
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