The people of Toronto wanted a show and the boys in red jerseys were happy to give it to them. Canada cruised to an easy 6-0 victory over the Czech Republic in their first game of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey to start the tournament off on the right foot.
The tournament hosts pulled away early with three goals in the first period before adding three more insurance goals over the next two periods, all while making it look easy.
Sidney Crosby, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Joe Thornton, Jonathan Toews and Alex Pietrangelo all scored, while Carey Price earned the shutout with 27 saves. It was a near-perfect way for the Canadians to start a tournament many are expecting them to win.
Canada’s status as favorite only looks stronger after their first game.
1. Canada made sure to send a statement with their first win
Not that they needed to remind anyone of their dominance, Canada made sure to add a few style points to a win everyone expected them to pick up. The Canadians weathered some push back from the Czechs early before putting their foot on the gas towards the midway point of the first period.
Almost every goal was of the highlight-reel variety and they completely controlled the puck. Canada out-shot the Czechs 50-27, won 62 percent of the faceoffs, controlled 65.5 percent of the shot attempts at even strength and obviously put in six goals with relative ease.
The only real blemish for Canada is that they were shorthanded six times in the game. Against better teams, that could be a problem, but their PK didn’t give the Czechs much.
That game showed why Canada has been the best in international hockey and is by far the favorite.
2. Sidney Crosby was machine-like
Compared to many of his other teammates, Sidney Crosby didn’t play much. When he was out there, though, was he ever efficient. Over just 13:04 of ice time, Crosby had Canada’s first goal, picked up two assists and put five shots on net. It seemed like every shift he took, something happened.
After Crosby’s especially short offseason due to that whole winning the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins thing, Crosby looked like he is picking up right where he left off from the final series. In fact, he may have looked even more dominant in the limited ice time he had.
Often playing alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, Crosby’s line was continually making things happen and Canada’s captain barely broke a sweat.
3. Carey Price was on his game from the start
One of the few concerns for Canada coming into the tournament was if Price would have enough time to get back up to game speed. After playing two full exhibition games, it looks like he’s more than back up to speed.
The winner of the Hart and Vezina Trophies in 2014-15, Price has shown no ill effects from the injury that cost him most of the 2015-16 season. He made 27 saves against the Czechs and was particularly sharp early in the game before Canada pulled away.
There doesn’t appear to be any need for concern now.
4. Michal Neuvirth did the best he could
We’ve seen Michal Neuvirth steal games on his own like he did in the playoffs last season, but you can only do so much against one of the most impressive forward groups you’ll see at any level, any time.
He made 44 saves on 50 shots. Some of his saves were incredibly impressive, too. Like this one on Steven Stamkos.
There’s only so much you can do against an attack as relentless and skilled as Canada’s.
5. Highlights of the game
Canada played a borderline artistic game Saturday night. Their incredible skill up and down the lineup was on full display all night. If you missed the game, here are Canada’s three best goals of the night.
1. Toews to Getzlaf, back to Toews
The passing on this play is just silly. Toews dishes a spinning, behind-the-back pass through a Czech defenseman and right to Getzlaf. The Anaheim Ducks captain then let Toews get into position and put it right on his tape.
2. Crosby calls bank
The quickness with which Crosby recognizes that he’s got a chance to bank this puck off of Neuvirth to actually executing it is rather impressive.
3. Duchene to Crosby to Thornton
More great passing from Canada.
Three months ago, Sidney Crosby and Joe Thornton were battling for the Stanley Cup. Saturday night, they found themselves on the ice together wearing the maple leaf. That was on a tee for Thornton for the easy tap-in.
Honorable mention: Crosby’s jumping screen for Bergeron’s buzzer-beating goal:
With less than a second remaining in the first period, Patrice Bergeron found the back of the net on a perfect shot. It didn’t hurt that No. 87 was providing a jumping screen in front of Neuvirth.
Canada’s next game will be Tuesday against Team USA, who will be facing a must-win situation after losing to Europe in Saturday’s early game.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Crosby shines as Canada rolls over Czech Republic in World Cup debut: 5 takeaways