It wasn’t close. It wasn’t supposed to be.
But still, there’s always that lack of satisfaction that comes from beating a team like Austria – even though they very visibly are not devoid of NHL-level skill – in any Olympics, whether it’s in Vancouver or whether it’s on Russia’s hostile, feared BIG ICE.
Every game is prefaced with, “We better beat them big.” And then, in the middle of the game, you’re going, “Well, we’re dominating this.” And then, at the end, whether it’s 3-1 or 6-0 or 10-0, you’re thinking, “Did we play as well as we could have? Did we run up the score enough? HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?!”
It’s like trying to tell if milk smells funny after it’s expiration date. You honestly have no idea what you’re looking for, nothing to measure it against.
Canada ran it up to 6-0 on Friday, led by Jeff Carter’s hat trick and solid all-around contributions from John Tavares, Matt Duchene, and Martin St. Louis. Ryan Getzlaf added a beauty, Shea Weber scored the game’s second with a blast that would have gone through Austrian goalie Bernhard Starkbuam if it had hit him, and Drew Doughty scored his second from the blueline.
The positives? Well, Canada won 6-0. They also scored by committee, with even the stat-padding Carter doing his damage while rotating through centers and wingers. The defence hardly had to skate backwards.
The negatives? Well, Austria played pretty well – despite showing a six-spot – and they challenged Roberto Luongo several times, with the Canucks tender having to be sharp for 60 minutes en route to a 23-save shutout.
But Canada looked lazy at times. It’s understandable, because of the competition and the scoreboard. But Corey Perry’s half-assed penalty shot – it was passed to the glove of Starkbaum – won’t fly against Finland. Perry looked as disinterested on that penalty shot as Thomas Vanek did all game.
(It should be noted, Perry had a great game, other than that one suburban breakaway.)
Even Ryan Getzlaf’s sweet little toe drag around everyone in Vienna… consider that the last time he pulls it off in Sochi, or at least the last time he does that so easily.
In 46 shots on goal, Canada scored six. Nobody’s complaining, but nobody’s lighting fireworks, either. When their total dips to the 30s against the Americans or the Russians, will their goal total dip to three, or two?
That’s always the trick with these opening Olympic rounds. Sure, you were hoping for more offence against Norway yesterday. Fair enough. But if you think this display of dominance against Austria was the rack to hang your hat on, that’s wrong, too.
Look, we really shouldn’t care. Canada won and life is swell. (And in Canada, we still stay swell. We’re as gosh darn polite as a 50’s Cadillac.)
But the games last 60 minutes. The analysis, the reaction, the sweat, the late-night snacks, the uneasy feeling that the Americans/Russian/Finns/Whoever’s Hot are waiting at the end of these rinky-dink exhibition games… that lasts for days.
And when it comes to Canada, they can’t score all the time, right?
Take March Madness. When those #1 seeds play a 16 and beat them by, like, 40 points, do you really care how many threes their Naismith nominee had? He can’t shoot every second for four full quarters, and Crosby probably will never have to score an Olympic goal until Game 3.
The good news is, this team looks in-sync. And they actually look like they want to win.
Normally, those two compliments are reserved for the Americans.
VIDEO: Ryan Getzlaf curls and drags through Austria’s defence
VIDEO: Carter makes it 3-0 Canada
VIDEO: Shea Weber fires a missile to put Canada up 2-0
VIDEO: Roberto Luongo makes a nice save