Before the Olympic tournament started, Canada coach Mike Babcock warned that “it’s so easy to be stuck on the outside on the big ice and think you are doing something because you are standing in your zone.”
He asserted that in order to score, the Canadians would need to take the middle of the ice, and their narrow 2-1 victory against Finland on Sunday only reinforced that point. If they can’t start claiming that premium space, then opposing nations will continue to frustrate them, despite their edge when it comes to skilled forwards.
To that end, Jamie Benn has been placed on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in the hopes that the trio will be able to, as Benn put it, “use our size and strength to our advantage.”
“We have to find a way to get to the dirty areas and find a way to get some basic goals,” Benn continued, per the Olympic News Service.
Chris Kunitz, who was reunited with Sidney Crosby during Monday’s practice, had some more thoughts on what it would take to move into the tough areas.
“Puck movement,” Kunitz told PHT’s Jason Brough. “Speed away from the puck. Driving lanes. Capitalizing on those one-on-one battles. As soon as you beat your guy, you’ve got to make sure you’re moving the puck, or moving your feet to get to an area.”
Canada will play against the winner of Switzerland versus Latvia in the quarterfinals. The Swiss in particular are a superb defensive team and they would be a big test for the Canadians.