First blood to Canada as a double-strike from Marchand sinks Europe

Canada beat Europe 3-1 in the opening game of a 3-match final series at the World Cup of Hockey at the Air Canada Center in Toronto. 

Two goals from the Boston Bruins left-wing Brad Marchand, plus two points from Sydney Crosby, helped the Canadians to win game one.

Both coaches spoke to the press after the game.

Team Canada Head Coach Mike Babcock;

Mike, I’m sure you’re pleased with the win,but there seemed to be large swaths of time in the first two periods that seemed very un-Team Canada like. I’m wondering if that’s your assessment of it, and, if so, is it a concern at all to you?

MIKE BABCOCK: Well, obviously we got the two points, I thought we had a good third. We scored timely goals on their turnovers. In the first, I thought that they were better than us for large stretches of the game at times. I thought they executed and played fast. I didn’t think we moved the puck out of our zone at all tonight, went back and forth. We had guys out there that didn’t talk to one another so actually didn’t play fast and then turned the pack over on entry, so they looked quicker than they were and we probably looked slower than we were.

In the end, obviously, we’ve got lots of room to get better, but we came here today to find a way to win a game. We won a game, so now tomorrow we’ve got to get better again so we can take this step.

How do you explain the chemistry that top line has as if they’ve been playing together for years?

MIKE BABCOCK: They’re good, and they’ve had a good tournament. They’ve played real well. They’ve got three elite players on it and all different types of players, but they’ve been really good. I don’t know if they were as good tonight as they have been, but they were good.

We need more guys on deck than we had tonight. We just weren’t as good as we have been, and we’ll be a lot better next game.

What can Team Canada do better coming out of the gate for Game 2?

MIKE BABCOCK: Well, I think the big thing, don’t take a penalty the first shift, but they skated right by us the first shift of the game and got to the net for a chance. We talked a lot about their start, and I thought we got on our heels.

In saying that, we scored two goals off neutral zone transition where they gave us the puck, and then we countered and went. I didn’t think we were — for whatever reason, we weren’t as good as we felt we were capable of being, so we’ll fix that and be better.

Would it be fair to say that you haven’t had a game in this tournament where you needed Carey Price as much as you did tonight early on especially?

MIKE BABCOCK: Yeah, I would say in the Russian game in the third period, when we got up 5-2 and stopped playing, we needed him.

But we needed him early tonight. I think they were out-shooting us at one point significantly, and we’ve been a team that’s — I don’t know if we got 50 tonight, but it sure feels like we were all over the other team, and we weren’t that tonight.

We had a good third period that way totally, but even towards the end we still gave up chances off the rush, which is not like our team, so we’ll fix that. You’d like things to be perfect every night, but it’s just not real.

Given the fact that you weren’t pleased with the overall game, would you consider any changes for Thursday? 

MIKE BABCOCK: Well, the great thing about it is I’ll get a chance to watch the video in the morning, and then I’ll make that decision.

Defensemen scored very few goals in this tournament, actually 8 of 76 only, also not so many power play goals. How can you explain this trend, and how do you think they are interconnected?

MIKE BABCOCK: Yeah, that’s a great question. We talk a lot about that actually. Just defensively and the speed of the game, it’s so fast. You know, it’s interesting, 17 minutes in this is like 22 minutes, and the guys are dying, and they say, no, they can’t go, so just that’s ice time alone.

Then you get the power play and the penalty killing, the easier the penalty killing, the quicker the nuances of your power play. Those one-timers that you score on in the regular season and the goalie doesn’t even look like he’s making a save on those, I think the specialty teams penalty kill wise have been outstanding.

We seem to feel like we’re getting looks on our power play. Not tonight, but the looks on our power play, but we haven’t done much with it. What is the reason? I don’t know. Is it just that the level of hockey is so fast that they can’t be as active as they normally are? I don’t know the answer.

With respect to the fact that you have said Sidney Crosby, when you guys were in Sochi, played very well, in this tournament he’s produced two or three points almost every game. Is his role different? Is there something about the way he’s playing in this tournament, or is it just the puck?

MIKE BABCOCK: Well, let’s be honest, in Sochi, we had the puck the whole game. We were dominant. We were as good offensively as you could be, we just didn’t shoot it in the net for whatever reason. He got feeling it early, and he’s feeling it, and he thinks it’s going in. And when you don’t get feeling it sometimes for stretches, you might press a little bit harder. You always have more time in the scoring area than you think, and when you’re scoring, you take the time, and when you’re not scoring, you rush and you don’t score.

Team Europe Head Coach Ralph Krueger;

It seemed like that was the best game you guys have played this tournament, and to not come out on the winning end, how do you handle that in the second game? And what were your overall thoughts of the game? 

RALPH KRUEGER: Overall, I agree with the players. I think if you cut the goals out of the videos, there’s an even chance opportunity here for us with Canada, which we’re proud of that effort, and the creation of it, but we’re very frustrated, of course, with what and how we gave up the goals we did. Just a little bit too much risk at the wrong times and the power of Canada is that, to take opportunities and jam them into the net.

I think what we can take out of this is a lot of courage that we played a strong game, that we had a lot of opportunity that we didn’t make enough out of. I thought we could have tested Price a lot more with the chances we had, and some of them just died on our own sticks.

But, again, the effort was there. Very proud of how we came in and how we stuck into this game, and we made it a game where we can take confidence into the fact that we can win against Team Canada, but it has to be perfect, and it certainly wasn’t today in every aspect. But lots of good things there, lots of effort, and something to build on for Game 2 for sure.

Less than halfway through the game, you guys had 23 shots, so you were on track for almost 50 shots, and then after that you had a stretch of seven minutes, I think, with no shots. Do you think Canada has an ability to sort of flick a switch and lock it down when it wants to, and how do you overcome that? 

RALPH KRUEGER: Well, yeah, there was a dry spell there, but some of that was also, as I just mentioned, giving up opportunities to bring the puck to the net to try and create second opportunities that come off of good shots to the net.

At the same time, we all know the strengths of the Canadian team, and we have a lot of respect for the potential in that group. They did tighten up for a while there, but I thought once we had them 2-1, there was opportunity to bring this game even. And yeah, we had a lull there, you’re right, for a stretch. I thought we got stuck out a couple of times. We ended up with some tired D on long shifts in the second period over a minute, and that catches up to you for a few shifts onwards as you’re trying to recover.

So I think that was — the weakest part of our game was that little stretch in the second, but I liked a lot of the first and a lot of the third and pieces of the second, so we’ve got to build on that, and we definitely, definitely need to get our power play firing, which has been our Achilles heel here offensively.

We’ve spoke a lot about momentum going into this game. How did the mood shift after tonight’s performance, and what were your words to your team after the game? 

RALPH KRUEGER: Well, we’ve done well with adversity in this month. We’ve had a few situations of it, and I think knowing these players, this will give us more fuel for Game 2, and we’ll come out of this stronger. Again, we’re here to continue to grow and to learn and evolve, and we’re very angry right now, which is a good thing. But we also are confident with what we felt today, and it makes us that much more frustrated at the moment.

I’m sure we’re going to come out fighting very strong in Game 2.

You just mentioned the anger factor. How do you balance going forward tomorrow with the positive reinforcement from what you saw tonight and also kind of reminding them that taking any sort of moral victories from tonight isn’t going to count for much in an elimination game? 

RALPH KRUEGER: No, we all know this is the final series and also that it’s the best of three, and what order you win the two games in is irrelevant. I think we just have a group that understands the opportunity that we’re in and that we’ve created with a lot of hard work. You know, togetherness actually. This will pull us together even that much tighter, I think. That’s what I feel out of this group and in the room right now.

Get a good sleep, get a good meal, and we’ll find ways to confirm what we need to do, but at the same time, we’ve always been speaking about where we can get better, and we’ll look at that tomorrow in the morning and then start building toward Game 2.

I think all the way back from the Washington game against Sweden, you’ve had just a ton of odd man rushes in every single game. You’re probably leading the tournament in that category. Would you try to explain in hockey terms what allows you to do that?

RALPH KRUEGER: On the offensive side, I hope.


RALPH KRUEGER: I mean, I just think it’s a real commitment to defense. Today we out-takeawayed Canada, which is one of the places that Canada is the best in the world at, and takeaways are just a sign of persistence and hunger on the checking side of the game.

We’re a good checking team. Everybody is involved. Our forwards are working so hard back, and a lot of those takeaways are creating transition opportunities, and that’s our weakness right now is taking opportunity of those. If I look at Canada and the transitions and odd man rushes they had and the ones we had and what came out of it, that’s where we need to improve. So it’s certainly coming out of our defense, and the quickness of the group as a whole, and some of our forwards, of course, have really good speed. It’s now finishing those that we need to do in Game 2, so we’re expecting odd man rushes again, but we need to marry them.

Defensemen scored quite a few goals at this tournament, 8 of 76, and also not so good game in power play, not only your team but in all the tournament. How can you explain this trend and how do you think they’re interconnected?

RALPH KRUEGER: Well, I think on the defensemen, just the general defensive commitment here at a tournament of best-on-best is very high from players that might not be doing it all the time. In their club teams they might have other linemates or partners who do more of the dirty work and the defense, and here the willingness of these best players to do what it takes to win is putting players in shot lanes that they’re committed to, unbelievable shot blocking going on here. It’s difficult for defensemen to get pucks through, and the penalty killing commitment is so high. I think we’ve got about a 7 percent power play ratio right here through all the teams at the tournament combined.

And again, it’s the understanding of what it takes to win at a best-on-best tournament. It’s not necessarily always pretty, but you’ve got all of Team Canada’s players playing excellent defense and working hard away from the puck. So those factors, I think, are coming into play here.

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