Sunday, February 19, 2006

Canada Looks a Little Rusty - Finland looks Unstoppable

The was a very well-played game by the Finns. Selanne was a monster in the first period - he was all over the ice. He scored one goal, and almost had two more in the second, with one bouncing on top of the net, and drawing a penalty on the second when he got tackled by Adam Foote when he was all alone in front of the net.

Finland has now outscored the opposition 17-2 in 4 games, and should close out the round-robin with a perfect 5-0 record, since they are facing a relatively weak German team on Tuesday.

There was a stark difference between the Canadian powerplay and the Finnish powerplay. It's like the Canadian players aren't used to running a powerplay on the international ice surface. If you watched the Finnish powerplay, they had the opposing defenseman spread out over the entire offensive zone, and had Canada scrambling.

On the final Canadian powerplay, it was the Canadian offensive players that were scrambling, trying to find a once of breathing room, while the Finnish defenders hustled to pressure the play, succesfully preventing Canada from getting set up at all.

Canada has one non-elimination game remaining before the quarterfinals, and they better have their act together by Wednesday. It doesn't get much easier, with Tuesday's tune-up game against the Czech Republic.

As far as Canada goes, they've now been shut out for 124 consecutive minutes. They have one tune-up game remaining, against the Czech Republic on Tuesday. They need to spend some serious time working on their powerplay and their breakout. Once Finland got out to a 2-0 lead, they played the trap to a perfection, and limited Canada to a few quality scoring chances. When Canada did manage to have a quality scoring chance, they were stopped, first by Martin Gerber yesterday, and by Antero Niitymaki today.

It takes three straight wins from the quarterfinals on in. At the moment, Finland looks like they are by far the most prepared and best-coached team in the Olympics, and they are now the gold medal favorites. We could see a Canada-Finland matchup again in the Semi-Final or Final. I fully expect Canada to break out of their slump on Tuesday.