2022 Olympics: 3 Takeaways From Canada’s Elimination Loss to Sweden

The Canadian Men’s Olympic Ice Hockey Team has been eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Beijing Winter Olympics after falling 2-0 to Team Sweden. It’s a gut-wrenching, heartbreaking loss for a group of Canadian players who would have never had this opportunity if the NHL had sent its players to the Olympics. They played their hearts out, but in the end, it wasn’t good enough. Here’s a look at some of the biggest takeaways from this loss.

One Canadian Giveaway Was All it Took

With the game scoreless entering the final period, we all sensed it would be the first team to make a mistake that was going to pay dearly. Unfortunately, Team Canada made that one crucial mistake. Jack McBain was skating out of Canada’s end when he decided to make a drop pass to an unsuspecting teammate. The puck ended up on the stick of Swedish forward Lucas Wallmark, who was able to walk in for the shot.

To make matters worse, defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon, who was trying to get back to disrupt Wallmark, attempted to get his stick in front of the shot to block it. Instead, the shot deflected off his stick, changing direction and finding its way past goaltender Matt Tomkins. It’s a mistake that will haunt McBain, Wotherspoon, and Tomkins for a very long time. Without the goal, who knows how this game would have ended.

At the end of the day, though, that’s hockey. It’s a game of inches that often rewards the team that makes the fewest mistakes, and today, that was Team Sweden.

Canada Struggled To Find Offence

When Canada needed it most, they simply couldn’t find any offence. For whatever reason, they struggled for the entire game to create high-quality chances in front of the Swedish net; ultimately, it was their downfall. Maybe it was the pedigree of Eric Staal or the potential within Mason McTavish and Josh Ho-Sang, but none of it clicked in Beijing. It’s possible there wasn’t enough time to find the right line combinations or develop chemistry, but in the end, the reasons don’t matter.

Related: Staal is Crucial to Team Canada’s Success in Beijing

They scored 19 goals in five games, but 17 were against Germany and China. Canada scored twice against Team USA in the round-robin and none against Team Sweden. As unfortunate as it is, this team couldn’t produce offence against teams that were also considered contenders in the tournament. Adam Tambellini, Jordan Weal, Eric O’Dell, and Kent Johnson combined for 22 points in the tournament. Staal, Corban Knight, Ho-Sang, and McTavish were the players many considered to lead this team offensively, combined for half of that.

Carolina Hurricanes Eric Staal – Photo By Andy Martin Jr

Canada has some of the best offensive players in the world playing in the NHL, but looking outside that league, the elite goal-scoring ability just wasn’t there.

Tomkins Plays His Heart Out

Edward Pasquale entered the tournament as the starter for Team Canada, but after allowing a couple of bad goals in the loss to Team USA, the net was handed over to Matt Tomkins. He led Canada to back-to-back wins against Team China, but his biggest challenge was easily this game against Team Sweden.

Anyone who watched this game knows that Tomkins did all he could. He kept Canada in it when Sweden was outplaying them for stretches, being the calm presence in the net they so very much needed. Of course, he’s going to wish he made the save on Wallmark’s goal. However, a brutal giveaway at Canada’s blue line and a shot that deflects off a defenceman’s stick is hard to blame on any goaltender. He stopped the other 24 shots he faced; his country couldn’t have asked more of him. He did everything he could, and he made his country proud.

It’s a brutal loss for Team Canada, who were hoping to improve on their bronze medal at PyeongChang in 2018. Instead, they leave empty-handed, not even making it to the semifinals, which would have guaranteed them to play in a medal game, whether for gold or bronze.

These players didn’t know they had a chance to be selected two months ago when it was still expected that the biggest stars in the NHL would be playing for Team Canada. They all fought as hard as they could, and this loss will sting for a very long time.

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