SOCHI, Russia — Under the microscope after failing to score in Team Canada’s first three games, Sidney Crosby met with reporters today to talk about, among other things, the challenges of international hockey versus the NHL.
“I think you are a little further away from the net when they put pressure on you, so instead of being one or two steps away, having to fight to get to the net, you are probably four or five, so it takes longer to get there,” he said, per the Olympic News Service.
“So usually by that time, they have someone to support, to make sure that if you do have that step, it is tougher to get there. That combined with the fact that a lot of these teams have played like that for a long time, with that system, I think they have a pretty good grasp on how they want to play.”
Just as he did following Sunday’s 2-1 overtime win versus Finland, Crosby lauded his team’s patient, possession-minded approach, which has yielded three victories while outscoring opponents 11-2.
“Last night, we had good puck possession and I think we felt that eventually we’d be able to wear them down,” he said. “They competed hard and did a good job, but I think we know that the game dictates the way you have to play.”
Crosby added: “By forcing something, you are going to dig a puck out of your net because you’re forcing something that’s not there. There’s a balance between taking what’s given to you and making sure you’re going after them and not sitting back.”
Despite the attention the lack of scoring has brought, Canada has dominated its opponents in terms of possession. Against Norway, Austria, and Finland, the shots were a combined 111-58 for the defending gold medalists.
“Some guys on the team are used to putting up three points a night and when that doesn’t happen, you can’t get too frustrated,” said forward Rick Nash.
But there are still areas that can be improved upon.
“We’ve played three games now and it’s been drilled into our heads we need to get off the wall and try to make the ice as small as we can make it,” said forward Jeff Carter, who tallied a hat trick versus Austria. Only two other forwards, Jamie Benn and Ryan Getzlaf, have scored for Canada in Sochi.
On Wednesday, a quarterfinal match-up, most likely with the defensive-minded Swiss, awaits.
“On the big ice you can kind of just sit back and make the zones even smaller than they are,” said Nash, “and we have to make sure that doesn’t happen.”