Team Canada defeated Team Norway 3-1 in their opening game of the Olympic tournament on Thursday. Here are five things we learned:
• It can take a while for a team of superstars to gel. The score going into the first intermission was 0-0, which isn't terrible, but considering that Canada is a lot more heavily-favored than Norway (especially in Canada, where they're heavily-favoured), it made for a disappointing opening frame. The Canadians looked slow, like maybe they didn't realize it would take a few more strides to get where they were going, and they looked out of sync, like they had never played together before. Makes sense. They hadn't. By the second period, they looked a little more cohesive, and they did win the game, so it could have been worse.
• Canada expects more. That said, it would have been better too. A 3-1 win over Norway is hardly satisfactory. One would have assumed that Canada would pull away from the Norwegians early. Instead, they never did. A win is a win, sure, but this one won't instill any confidence in the Canadians watching at home. Neither will it help with goal differential. Now, if Canada loses to Finland or ties them, they could fall into the qualification round.
• The powerplay needs some work. Take it from a Vancouver Canucks fan: a functioning powerplay is the key to a good team, which is why the Canucks currently aren't one. Team Canada's powerplay didn't click in this game either, and it's one of the major reasons this star-studded lineup was unable to produce a more lopsided outcome.
• Norway didn't win, but they achieved their goal. Norway didn't expect to win this game. They had a slightly more modest goal: score, even once. The last Norwegian to score a goal on Team Canada in the Olympics was Stephen Foyn, who scored his country's only goal against Canada in an 8-1 loss in 1984. Now it's Patrick Thoresen, who cut Canada's lead in half just 22 seconds into the third period. That's a minor victory.
And truthfully, the whole game is a minor victory for Norway. It's possible that the close game isn't entirely on Canada. Norway looked good for stretches. They're still a longshot to advance, but they might be a more difficult opponent than expected.
• The goaltending battle is on. Give the assist on Thoreson's goal to Carey Price, who mishandled the puck behind the net and gave it away to the Norwegian attacker. Canada survived, obviously, but with Price battling Roberto Luongo for the starting job coming out of the round robin, the error may have opened the door for Luongo to put in a flawless performance in the second game and steal the starting job for the second straight Olympics.
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