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Team Canada’s Defense Leading the Way in Scoring Goals

Unlikely Canadian Heroes at the Winter Olympics

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Team Canada’s Defense Leading the Way in Scoring Goals
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Shea Weber.

COMMENTARY | The Canadian ice hockey team has gotten off to a great start at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. This is no surprise -- its ancestors invented the sport.

They began with 3-1 win over Norway. In their second game, they beat Austria handily 6-0. Forward Jeff Carter had a hat trick in the game and goaltender Roberto Luongo earned the shutout.

The third game in the preliminary round had Team Canada defeating Finland 2-1 in overtime. The winning goal came from their leading goal scorer, Drew Doughty.

Doughty is not someone many thought would at any point lead Team Canada in goals scored.

So far in the 2013-2014 NHL season, Doughty has 8 goals. He has a career high of 16 in a season. This may not seem very impressive until you realize that Doughty is a defenseman.

A member of the Los Angeles Kings in his off-time when he is not shining at the Olympics, Doughty is more known as a player earning assists than goals. With no shortage of points throughout his career, Doughty is indeed an offense-oriented man on the blue line.

Doughty's game-winning goal against Finland was not his only that day. He also got Team Canada on the board with a power-play goal in the first period. In total, Doughty has 4 goals so far at the Olympics in 3 games. His two against Finland along with one against Norway and Austria each have made him the team's top offensive threat.

The 24-year-old London, Ontario native is not the only defenseman showing off his goal-scoring skills. Shea Weber has added 2 goals as well, totaling 6 goals in 3 games by defensemen on Team Canada. The team has 11 goals total, meaning that the defensemen are the ones putting the majority of the pucks in the back of the net.

Weber's goal-scoring ability is far less surprising than Doughty's. In fact, Weber might just be the best defenseman in the NHL. The Nashville Predators were so determined to keep him when his contract came up that they essentially handicapped themselves by signing him to a fat 14-year $110 million contract.

Weber has 15 goals so far in the 2013-2014 NHL season, easing the wearing Nashville fans who thought he may perform poorly after having a guaranteed contract. Weber is unlikely to overtake his career high of 23 goals in a season, but he should come close to matching it.

Both of these defensemen have previous Olympic experience. Back in 2010 Doughty was held scoreless, only adding 2 assists. That same year Weber had 2 goals and 4 assists for the gold medal winning Canadian team.

For a team with as many offensive threats as Team Canada, it truly is a surprise for two defensemen to combine for more goals than the rest of the offense. Sidney Crosby has been held goal-less, although he does have 2 assists. Meanwhile, Patrick Sharp, Rick Nash and John Tavares have yet to add a point. Patrick Marleau has 4 points total, all of them coming from assists.

Aside from Carter's 3 goals against Austria, only two other forwards have managed to score. These two men are Jamie Benn and Ryan Getzlaf. Benn has scored 22 goals this year for the Dallas Stars and Getzlaf has already set a career high this season with 29 as a member of the Anaheim Ducks. Of the two, only Getzlaf has previous Olympic experience. In 2010, Getzlaf had 3 goals and 4 assists for Team Canada. Of course, he also had something far more important -- a gold medal.

With 6 goals scored by the defensemen and only 2 given up by the goaltenders, Team Canada is winning in a very unorthodox way. The favorite for many coming into the tournament, few could have predicted that Doughty and Weber would be the most dangerous men with the puck.

Sources:

Hockey-Reference
Team Canada Statistics

Tim Boyle is an avid sports and lifelong following of the Olympic Games. His favorite events are ice hockey and curling.

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