2014 Olympic hockey: Team Canada wins first, but has room for improvement

Team Canada celebrating a goal during a 3-1 win over Norway. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Team Canada celebrating a goal during a 3-1 win over Norway. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Team Canada won their first game over Norway this morning by a score of 3-1. Getting the win was expected for Team Canada as they came in as the favorites for the Sochi Olympics, but no one was expecting the game to end as close as it did; especially to Norway.

Team Canada struggled early on, making Canadians and hockey enthusiasts all over question the success that the superstar team will have.

Fortunately for Team Canada, they started off with a game against Norway and their next game happens to be against Austria, both are teams that shouldn’t be difficult opponents. This will allow Coach Mike Babcock to mix up the roster and find some more productive lines.

What to expect to change:

1. The first line that started with Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins), Chris Kunitz (Pittsburgh Penguins), and Jeff Carter (LA Kings) showed signs of success later on, but were unable to get things started in the game early on. When playing an opponent like Norway it is possible to start soft and still get things going later on to get the win; moving on to Finland and whoever they play in the later parts of the tournament, they need to find ways to get starting from the moment the puck drops. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Babcock mix up that first line for the next game against Austria. Crosby needs another elite player on his line in order to allow him to get open in the offensive zone. Putting John Tavares on the first line ahead of Kunitz on the left wing.

2. To continue on the first line, Carter is a solid sized player. Carter needs to have a bigger presence in front of the net. With Crosby and Tavares on a line, Carter should keep his body in front of the goalie not only to screen the goalie, but to put away second chance opportunities; something Team Canada failed to do several times during their win.

3. Two players that were impressive and need to see more time on the ice are Jamie Benn (Dallas Stars) and Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins). Benn not only scored a goal, but he also played a crucial part in killing penalties throughout the game and near the end of the game. Bergeron was putting himself in great positions to break up plays and generate scoring chances for Team Canada, one of which resulted in Benn’s goal. Expect these two to move up in the depth charts for the next game.

4. Communication on defense was the main issue. The lone goal for Norway came from a breakdown of communication between the defensemen and Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens). Another issues that was prevalent was soft passes. Soft passes between defensemen were broken up occasionally, which could be dangerous when playing against the speedy Michael Grabner of Austria (who had a hat-trick during their loss to Finland today). In terms of defensive pairing, they seemed pretty solid.

What changes would you like to see addressed?

**Team Canada will face Austria tomorrow morning at 10:00AM MT**

Follow me on Twitter @JordanWalkerAKL

#GoCanadaGo #WeAreWinter

 

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