More traffic, less ‘fancy’ needed for Canada


In the wake of Thursday’s 3-1 win over Norway, Canadian players and coaches were mostly talking about one thing.

Mike Babcock: “We probably in the end didn’t have enough traffic and enough second chances. We feel we got 24 chances tonight and didn’t have seconds.”

Patrice Bergeron: “We’ve got to do a better job of finding the front of the net to create loose pucks.”

John Tavares: “We’ve got to do a little better job trying to find some second, third opportunities. Getting to the front of the net, getting pucks there.”

Traffic, traffic and more traffic. Theme of the day.

And just in case you weren’t convinced…

“We got a little bit too fancy,” said Jonathan Toews, per the Olympic News Service. “We tried to make all the cute plays and we’ve got to just get the pucks to the net.”

So yeah. Traffic.

It’s not surprising Canada made this the focus. Norway played a passive box defense for the majority of Thursday’s game, making the net-front a difficult place to conduct business. According to Tavares, Canada is prepared to see more of this as the tournament progresses.

“Teams are protective of the middle of the ice,” he explained. “Particularly a lot of the European teams.”

Overall, though, the Canadians sounded pleased with how things transpired, suggesting they’d need to only make minor adjustments moving forward. Tavares said he “liked the way we built — we got better every period,” while Bergeron noted “we kept improving throughout the game.”

As for head coach Mike Babcock, he found Thursday to be a bit of a learning experience.

“What I learned tonight about the big ice is the big ice isn’t very big,” he explained. “What I mean by that is the offensive zone is way smaller, length-wise. So the D have a harder time getting to the middle to shoot the puck. So our active D got chances, our D sliding got no chances; they can get to you way quicker.

“We spent all this time talking about the ice being way bigger, but the scoring areas inside the dots is smaller. … So, is it bigger or smaller?”

Babcock and company won’t have much time to figure it out. Canada is back in action tomorrow against Austria.

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?