Announcement FanSided.com is hiring paid news desk writers. Apply here! ×

Team Canada's Defense Thriving As Forwards Struggle On Big Ice

Team Canada picked up eight out of nine points in the preliminary round, earning themselves a bye to the quarterfinals of the Sochi 2014 Men’s Hockey tournament, but they did not do so in the dominating fashion that many expected the reigning gold medal winners to do.

In fact, 6 of Canada’s 11 goals have been scored by defensemen, and four of those by Drew Doughty. Ryan Getzlaf, Jamie Benn, and Jeff Carter are the only forwards on the team that have found the net, with Carter scoring three of those five goals in a row against Austria. A Canadian team that has so much talent up front should be putting lots of pucks in the net, especially since Finland was the only real challenge the Canucks faced in the preliminary round.

Canada’s counterparts from the south, however, have scored 14 goals, making them the highest-scoring team in the tournament so far, trailing Finland. The two countries look to be on a collision course, as they would take each other on in the semifinals with wins in their quarter-final match-ups on Wednesday. For a full printable bracket, click here. 

So, what gives?

It’s not puck possession: Canada has dominated that category in all three games. It’s not lack of scoring chances: they have eclipsed the 30 mark in two games, and had 27 against Finland.

Simply, the answer lies in the ice, which has always been one of the biggest questions when Canadians head overseas.

The wider surface allows for more skating, yes, but when the play is set up in the offensive zone, the defense of European teams keep everything to the walls, playing almost like a penalty-kill formation, although more aggressive. The puck naturally goes back to the best available shot, the defensemen, and both Doughty and Shea Weber have cashed in.

Meanwhile, world-class players like Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, and John Tavares have been held out of the goal column. Crosby has two assists in three games, something Head Coach Mike Babcock isn’t worried about:

“Everyone evaluates Sid on scoring, and I evaluate Sid on winning… That’s what we came here for. So as long as we don’t get confused, we’re fine.”

Canada will have to rely on the hands and wheels from some of their best players to help them bring home the gold, while the bottom-six will focus more on defensive play. Players like Rick Nash, Corey Perry, and Patrick Sharp all have highlight-reel goals off the rush in this season alone, so that won’t be a tall order for Canada’s top snipers.

Canada’s counterparts from the south, however, have scored 14 goals, making them the highest-scoring team in the tournament so far, trailing Finland. The two countries look to be on a collision course, as they would take each other on in the semifinals with wins in their quarter-final match-ups on Wednesday. For a full printable bracket, click here.

 

Thanks for reading.  The Jets may be on a break but we aren’t! Keep it locked at HaTF for Olympic coverage, breaking news, weekly columns, and everything else you need to know about your Winnipeg Jets! For more  conversation and live game updates follow us on twitter @hkyattheforks. 

 

Tags: Team Canada Winnipeg Jets

comments powered by Disqus