Thursday, February 16, 2006

Day One Surprises and setbacks

Day one of the Olympic Hockey Tournament provided some surprising results and in one case some serious problems for the folks back in Canada.

Team Canada was sluggish with an early start to the day for their Olympic experience; Canada had the early game against the host Italian squad. And while the outcome was never expected to be in doubt, at times the play of the Canadians wasn’t quite at the pace they will want by the time we get to the Gold Medal Game.

Martin Brodeur launched Canada’s Olympic experience in Torino as he backstopped Canada to a 7-2 victory over the hosts; Brodeur was never in any danger of being over worked and had a relatively easy time of things in the Canadian goal. Canada exploded for five goals in the second period that all but shut down the Italians, who countered with two goals before the day was done.

Jarome Iginla and Todd Bertuzzi seemed to have the best efforts for the Canadians, Iginla scoring two of the Canadian goals, while Bertuzzi showed flashes of the talent that led to him remaining on the Canadian roster when many suggested he be replaced.

Canada takes on Germany next with a 2 pm EST match up (11 AM PST).

Elsewhere, it was bad news for John Muckler as Domenic Hasek was forced out of the Czech Republic/Germany game after only nine minutes, suffering from an apparent hamstring problem. The game which was turned over to Tomas Vokoun ended in victory for the Czechs

The Russians were surprised by the Slovaks, who upset them 5-3 on the strength of some fascinating play by Martin Gaborik.

The USA ran into the a hot Arturs Irbe as he turned aside scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity on the way to a 3-3 tie with the Americans. The underdog Latvians full value for their surprising play and hard work.

Sweden thumped on Kazakhstan 7-2 warming up for their Thursday match up with the Russians. Sweden which features a pretty high profile line up with Sundin, Sedin and Alfredsson to name a few, outshot the Kazaks 34-14 and seemed in control of the game from start to finish.

For many of the teams the first couple of games are akin to pre season games in the NHL, they work out the travel kinks and try to learn the ways of their new team mates. The only problem is if they take too long to get in the groove, it can have serious repercussions as the medal round comes up.

The Olympic tournament is a hectic bit of action, many games crammed into consecutive days and at varying times. One or two slips on the ladder and you can find yourself watching the gold medal game from the stands.

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