Canada’s Men’s Ice Hockey Team got their revenge on Team Germany for the Semi-final loss in PyeongChang to deny them a bid for gold by defeating the Germans 5-1 in the opening round-robin game of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics on Thursday. Team Canada is now 1-0 after a well-rounded performance. There were many positives to take from this game and a few minor concerns as well. Here’s a look at some of the biggest takeaways from this game.
Canada Comes Out Blazing to Start Game
It was evident from the opening face-off that Canada was eager to get the game going, and they came out firing on all cylinders. A massive hit by Eric O’Dell set the tone early, and the goal that followed showed how impactful physical play can be. Before Germany could catch their breath, Canada had netted three goals to take a commanding lead in the first.
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It was a perfect start for Team Canada, who looked like they had been playing together for months. Germany played better as the game went on but seemed to be caught off guard in the first. Goals by Alex Grant, O’Dell, and Daniel Winnik put Germany in a deficit they couldn’t come back from in this one.
Canada will want to start every game like this, pushing the pace and sustaining control, and if they do, they might not trail much in this tournament.
Canada’s Penalty Trouble
This game wasn’t all smooth sailing for Canada, who ran into serious penalty trouble. At the end of the first period and into the second, Canada, at one point, took four straight minors. They should consider themselves lucky that they only spent a few seconds down 5-on-3, as the penalties didn’t overlap much.
Special teams will be a significant factor in Olympic play, and Canada had to be sharp on the penalty kill to stop Germany from taking advantage. However, if they do the same against a team with a bit more offensive firepower, such as the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) or Team USA, they might not get away with it. There’s no need to panic yet, but discipline will surely be discussed in the team meeting following this game. Penalties will happen, but team Canada will need to avoid taking multiple minors in a short span moving forward.
Canada Showcases Speed and Skill
At the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, Canada struggled to score. They didn’t have the speed and skill in their lineup to be an offensive juggernaut in the tournament. It might be a different story here in Beijing.
Canada looked like the faster, more skilled team throughout. Mason McTavish and Josh Ho-Sang dazzled with their ability to control the puck and make quick decisions at such a high speed, despite not hitting the scoresheet. Both could be impactful players in this tournament. Eric Staal looked like he is still an NHL-calibre player, and Jordan Weal and Corban Knight are solid depth players who can contribute at 5-on-5 and on the power play. Even defenseman Owen Power looks like a solid candidate to net a few goals. He’s a great skater with a fantastic shot and has the size and speed to be a problem for the opposition.
Based on the roster selection, Canada identified their offensive trouble in 2018 and hoped to fix that this time around. With 27 shots on net in a 5-1 victory, including four from Ben Street, who led the team, and three each from captain Eric Staal and Maxim Noreau, it seems this team shouldn’t have trouble finding the back of the net.
Overall, Canada should be feeling good about this game. It was a matchup they should win, and they got the job done. Next up is a much more formidable opponent and their biggest rivals, Team USA, on Friday at 11:10 pm ET. That game should be much tighter as both teams will be looking to go up 2-0 in round-robin play after the USA beat Team China 8-0 in their first game on Thursday.