Canada at the world juniors
Michael Petrie, Calgary Herald
Published: Saturday, December 30, 2006
Forget about the perfect 3-0 record, Team Canada sees plenty of blemishes in its performance to date at the world juniors.
"We're not playing good right now," captain Kristopher Letang said after Friday's 3-1 win over Germany in Leksand, Sweden. "We need to be better than what we showed. We have to play better hockey.
"We need to improve our physical game, less turnovers, be more disciplined. Lots of things. We do some good things but we do some very bad things. Turnovers are the most important. When you give turnovers against a good team, you're going to be in trouble."
Having clinched first place in Pool A and a bye to Wednesday's semifinal against an unknown opponent, the Canadians will use Sunday's round-robin finale against Slovakia as a tonic to try to cure some of their problems. The bar is high in Canada and sometimes simply winning games isn't good enough.
"We turned pucks over in the offensive zone and tried to make plays that aren't there," said head coach Craig Hartsburg. "You have to be patient over here because these teams turn loose pucks into rushes up the ice quicker than they do in our leagues at home. We need to continue to work on our checking habits and being on the right side of the puck. Little things. We want to play better. We talk about it in the room that we can play better."
Throughout the tournament, Hartsburg has tinkered with his line and power-play combinations -- they were one-for-eight with a man advantage against Germany.
Darren Helm joined Jonathan Toews and Ryan O'Marra on what has become the first line, while Sam Gagner was dropped from a regular turn and only sees limited time on the second power-play unit.
The trio of Andrew Cogliano, Steve Downie and Brad Marchand has struggled but showed some life Friday, including a goal by Downie.
"We had a pretty solid effort," said Cogliano, who assisted on Downie's marker. "We're doing things pretty much right and we could have had a bunch more goals."