Team Canada defeated Team Austria 6-0 in their second game of the Olympic tournament on Thursday. Here are five things we learned:
• Jeff Carter is the natural. The LA Kings' forward is in Sochi because he's a natural goal-scorer, and he made that more than clear in the Team Canada win, registering a natural hat trick. "It just kind of happened," Carter said after the game, offering the sort of super-compelling quote hockey players are known for. But it just sort of happened because Carter's a much better finisher than he is a quipster. He scored his three goals while playing a team-low 8:46. For a guy that bounced from line to line as Canada's extra forward for much of the night, he made a strong case to be a regular going forward.
• Chris Kunitz is the odd man out. Kunitz, on the other hand, did not. No offense to the winger, who's a good hockey player, but he's playing with very good hockey players, and he doesn't look quite there. At this point, Kunitz's presence on what's supposed to be Canada's top line, since Sidney Crosby is on it, is actually a little bit comical. Mike Babcock continues to rotate wingers through Crosby's right side, but while he's doing that, he might want to consider doing something similar on the other side as well. On most teams, Kunitz is a top-six winger. On this team, he should be a healthy scratch.
• Canada's best forwards are defensemen. For the second straight game, Canada's first two goals came from Shea Weber and Drew Doughty. Weber's was an absolute cannon, as he stepped into a one-timer off a Ryan Getzlaf feed and nearly put it through the back bar. On a team stacked with this many offensive weapons, who'd have thought the most potent ones through two games would be the defenders?
• How to make bad jerseys look good? Play well in them. Canada's black third jerseys are an abomination. But they didn't look nearly as terrible out there as they would have if the team wearing them put in a second consecutive lacklustre performance. Instead, Canada looked like a team that's starting to figure it out, and dominated the Austrians from beginning to end. It was hard to hate the way they looked out there when they looked so much better than Thursday.
• Fantasy camp is over. That was fun and all, but Austria and Norway aren't exactly hockey powerhouses. Finland, on the other hand, appears to be the real deal, and the winner of the group stage will now be determined Sunday when the two teams meet. Babcock had the luxury of two laughers to get a good look at his roster options, but now he has to make hard choices. Who's in on defence? Who's in at forward? And most importantly, who plays in goal for that one? Roberto Luongo was flawless versus Austria, (and after the game, quipping, "it's my first win in three weeks"), and Carey Price made one mistake against Norway. In a race this close, will that be the difference?
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