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.