TeamCanada

More traffic, less ‘fancy’ needed for Canada

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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.

Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”