If Team Europe was ever going to make the World Cup final interesting, it was probably going to happen last night. The heavily favored Canadians were bound to come out a bit flat against a non-traditional opponent, and that’s exactly what happened in a less-than-electric Air Canada Centre.
But despite carrying the play for much of the first period, the underdogs trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes. They would go on to lose, 3-1.
It could’ve gone a different way, but it didn’t.
“In the first, I thought that they were better than us for large stretches of the game at times,” said Team Canada’s head coach, Mike Babcock. “I thought they executed and played fast. I didn’t think we moved the puck out of our zone at all tonight, went back and forth. We had guys out there that didn’t talk to one another so actually didn’t play fast and then turned the pack over on entry, so they looked quicker than they were and we probably looked slower than we were.”
Team Europe’s coach, Ralph Krueger, was left to bemoan what could’ve been, while trying to build on the positives.
“I thought we could have tested (Carey) Price a lot more with the chances we had, and some of them just died on our own sticks,” he said. “But lots of good things there, lots of effort, and something to build on for Game 2 for sure.”
The problem for the Europeans is that they’re unlikely to catch their opponents on another off night. Expect a much more motivated, much less sloppy Canadian side in Game 2.
“For whatever reason, we weren’t as good as we felt we were capable of being, so we’ll fix that and be better,” said Babcock. “You’d like things to be perfect every night, but it’s just not real.”
Game 2 goes Thursday in Toronto. A Canadian victory and that’s it for the tournament — one that started with a decent amount of positive buzz, thanks to a couple of spirited Canada-U.S. exhibition games and the high-flying exploits of Team North America, but seems destined to end with a quiet thud.
Unless, of course, the Europeans can find a way to push it to Game 3, but that was always an unlikely scenario. They had a chance to make things interesting on Tuesday. They probably won’t get another.