The numbers alone explain how well Canada played at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi:
Six games, six wins, 17 goals for, three allowed.
But to get a better sense of how truly dominant the team was, consider what the guy that built it said.
“Since I’ve been around, it’s the most impressive, the greatest display of defensive hockey,” Canadian GM Steve Yzerman said after a 3-0 win over Sweden in the gold medal game. “They were committed to this, and I think that’s ultimately why we won is because our leaders, our best players, said, ‘Guys we’re going to win; we don’t care about individual statistics.’
“We’re going to play the right way.”
And play the right way they did. The Canadians re-wrote the history books in Sochi, never trailing for a single second of the tournament while setting an Olympic record for fewest goals allowed. They also became the first back-to-back gold medalists since the Soviet Union turned the trick in 1984 and ’88, and were the first Canadian team to go undefeated at the Olympics since the Conn Smythe-led 1928 team ran the table at St. Moritz.
In Sochi, Canada’s opponents acknowledged just how talented a squad they were up against.
“They played unbelievable defense,” said Sweden’s Niklas Hjalmarsson, per the National Post. “One of the best teams I’ve ever played against, for sure.”
Of course, there were individual standouts. Carey Price finished the tournament with an 164-minute shutout streak and was named top goalie. Drew Doughty led the team with six points in six games en route to best defenseman honors. Shea Weber got one past the seemingly unbeatable Kristers Gudlevskis in the quarterfinal win over Latvia, and Jamie Benn scored the all-important goal in the 1-0 semifinal win over the U.S.
But in the end, it was Canada’s team game that stood out. A collection of individual stars buying in and accepting their roles — P.K. Subban, a Norris Trophy winner, played 11 minutes the entire tournament — while understanding that, for six games, they were all combining for something historic.
“It’s a great team that we had in this tournament,” Jonathan Toews said, per the Globe. “You can see it developing, the chemistry in the locker room, the guys start to understand their roles. It’s not easy for some guys. You look at guys like Roberto Luongo or Marty St. Louis, or even Sharpie (Patrick Sharp) tonight, guys that have made sacrifices to win the gold medal. You ask them, I don’t think they care.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be a part of a team like that, whether your role was big or small … we’re just an amazing team to watch, the way we work together.”