On paper, it’s a huge mismatch. And the Austrian men’s hockey team knows it.
Austria, ranked 15th in the world in the men’s IIHF ranking, meets the No. 5-ranked Canada, the defending gold medal champions with a lineup full of the game’s greatest stars, in preliminary Group B action on Friday. Needless to say, the Canadian contingent goes into this one as the heavy favorites and the Austrians are aware the chances of pulling off a monumental upset victory are slim. Very slim.
“If you’re realistic, Austria should never have a chance against Canada,” Austrian forward Michael Raffl told The Canadian Press. “You can’t go in there like that. You want to win. But you know your chances.”
Austria opened the tournament with a wild 8-4 loss to Finland on Thursday. That defeat prompted a stern critique of Austria’s goaltender, Bernhard Starkbaum, from Austrian forward Thomas Vanek.
“We started great and then gave up easy goals. We gave up too many shots from the middle and our goalie couldn’t control them,” Vanek said. “He added, “For us to beat a team like Finland, (Starkbaum) needs to be our best player.
Canada got off to a nervous looking start against Norway, but eventually settled down and overtook the game, winning by a final score of 3-1.
Roberto Luongo will get the start in goal for Canada against Austria, while Mike Smith will be on the bench as the back up.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.