Maybe it was the midday start.
Maybe it was the large ice surface and unfamiliar camera angles.
Maybe it was the small crowd – a shade over 10,000 – and consequent lack of atmosphere.
Whatever … I couldn’t really get into Canada’s 3-1 win over mighty Norway today.
And neither could the team, at least through the beginning of the game.
So let’s cut quickly to what interests HIO readers:
Carey Price was … well, the stat line looked good: 20 shots, 19 stops – a .950 save percentage, compared to .925 in Price’s NHL season to date.
But I thought he looked uncomfortable. And those 20 shots were taken by Norwegians.
Price was bad on the goal that briefly made a game of it. With Norway on the power play, he mishandled the puck behind the net to set the scoring sequence in motion. And then Price might have been tighter to the post on the goal – although, to be fair, it hit a player and changed direction on him.
Bottom line: Price did not nail down the number one job.
We’ll see how Roberto Luongo fares against Austria on Friday. And then Mike Babcock has to decide who’s in nets when Canada completes its preliminary round with a game against Finland on Sunday.
Let’s hope we see P.K. Subban against Austria.
Canada’s defence corps was rock-solid against Norway – better, as a group, than the forwards, I thought. But the power play wasn’t great, and P.K. would help there.
I don’t know whom Babcock would sub out for P.K. All the D played well.
Here’s how your other Canadiens Olympians fared:
• In a 4-2 loss to Sweden on Wednesday, Czech Republic captain Tomas Plekanec played 22:04. Hes and Tomas Kaberle (!!!) assisted on Jaromir Jagr’s goal. Pleks had two shots on goal and was 9-11 on faceoffs.
• Coming on in relief of Jaroslav Halak, Peter Budaj stopped six of eight shots in Slovakia’s 7-1 loss to the U.S. Within two minutes of entering the game, 13:30 into the second period, Budaj was beaten by Phil Kessel and Dustin Brown.
• Max Pacioretty played 11:30 in the stomping of Slovakia. He and T.J. Oshie drew assists on linemate Paul Stastny’s goal – the one that chased Halak. Max had two shots on goal in each of the first two periods and finished plus-2. On Mitch Melnick’s radio show, Pierre McGuire raved about the trio, which is ostensibly the U.S.’s fourth line. He was particularly effusive about Oshie. He’s the forward the Canadiens asked for in the Halak trade, but St. Louis said no way for T.J.
• Andrei Markov played 16:17 in Russia’s 5-2 win over Slovenia and had a clean stats line: No points, no shots, no penalties. Markov was on the power play that produced Ilya Kovalchuk’s goal, making it 3-0 in the second period.
• Alexei Emelin played 13:58. He was one for one goal for, one against and took a high-sticking penalty in the second period.
TGIF Special: Austria at noon tomorrow.
(Photo by Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)