Canada tops Slovakia at WJC in an Underwhelming Performance

Before I get into what I really have to say, let’s be clear that when the game was on the line late, Canada scored four goals, three of which counted.  The McDavid goal that was waved off was European officiating at its’ finest.  It didn’t prove to be a controversial call though, with Canada tying it up moments later.  And then only minutes after that, late in the third period, they took the lead for the first time in the game and went on to win 5-3, setting up a first place showdown with the USA on New Year’s Eve.

There are bigger issues at play for this team though and it goes beyond some of the awful puck control, unforced turnovers and a passing game that looks like a house level hockey game in a rural rink anywhere across the country. Exaggerating yes, but anyone who’s watching the game can see these issues.

My primary concern is the way the team carries themselves. In the opening game against Germany, the team didn’t exactly carry themselves in the old adage act like you’ve been there before.  With the game out-of-hand, the Canadian kids were still celebrating the goals as if it was a gold medal clinching score.  I wasn’t a fan of it when I watched it but we’re talking about teenage boys playing for Team Canada on Boxing Day, it’s a bit of a big deal.  But the issues continued.  Against Slovakia, when a call didn’t go their way they were in the face of the officials complaining, they were slamming their sticks against the boards, obvious displays of emotions with their arms in the air to undermine the officials.

Again, teenage boys on the biggest stage of their careers – I get that.

But Canada is often comprised of young men who do act like they’ve been there before.  The coaches can share their dismay with the officials or a designated captain, slamming your stick against the boards is beneath this team and the waving of hands in the manner they were is not going to cut it.  It only serves to give the official the next time a 50-50 call needs to be made – it’ll go the other way.

My concern is when this team enters into elimination games and they face some adversity, are they going to have the mettle to overcome it? The path to the gold medal this year is not going to be an easy one and they are going to have to fight for everything they get.  Forwards Jonathan Drouin and Connor McDavid are going to be playing a big role in bringing the gold medal back to Canada, yet they are two of the biggest culprits of the whining and complaining.

My optimism on this rests with one detail, Brent Sutter. If what I’m seeing from half-way around the world is this frustrating, I cannot imagine what Sutter is thinking to himself when he’s watching it from surface level.  Hopefully we’ve seen the last of this from the Canadian team.



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Main Photo Credit, CC