“It may seem insensitive for just keep going after the offense,” announcers Eddie Olczyk and Brian Engblom admitted during the second intermission of today’s contest between the Canadian and Austrian men’s hockey teams, but the nature of Olympic scoring awards points for goal differentials, and Team Canada wasn’t taking any chances earlier this afternoon.
Dark horse forward Jeff Carter in particular seemed to take that knowledge to heart, scoring a natural hat trick early in the second period (Canada’s first since 1956, also against Austria). Carter, who was brought to Vancouver as the “in case of injury” back-up in 2010 clearly came to prove that he belongs on a starting roster that boasts names like Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf, Shea Weber, and Patrice Bergeron.
(In case we forgot, Olczyk and Engblom were kind enough to remind us: “Patrice Bergeron–and we don’t recommend this, to all you youngsters–played in the Stanley Cup Final with a punctured lung.”)
Most of the game’s action came in that second period, where we saw everything from penalty shots to short-handed goals to hat tricks. Corey Perry was awarded a penalty shot after Florian Iberer took a penalty for hooking, but Canada wasn’t able to monopolize on the opportunity. Patrick Marleau also showed up big to the game, registering an assist on all three of Jeff Carter’s goals. Jamie Benn, who has impressed (and maybe surprised, a little) with his gameplay in the tournament so far, sat in the penalty box while Getzlaf scored an unassisted shorthanded goal in the closing minutes of the period.
Canada’s strength in their matchups so far has been forward-thinking defense, whose aim seems to be as much goal-oriented as their offense. There was constant pressure from their home zone, and it allowed Canada to keep the puck in front of Austria’s net. Combined with the patient, fluid offense that Marleau and Carter showed up front, and we saw a team that clearly has its eyes on gold.
The Austrians held Canada at a 6-goal standstill throughout the third period, though they weren’t able to steal a goal for themselves. Robert Luongo, who started this game instead of Carey Price, made 23 saves (Austrian goalies Bernhard Starkbaum and Mathias Lange combined to make 40 saves of 46 shots on goal).
Austria will next face Norway on February 16 at 3a.m. EST, and Canada is slated to take on Finland at 10a.m. EST the same day.