By Avry Lewis-McDougall
If only an early powerplay for Europe went a little differently we may have had a totally different game…..
Instead of a story of Europe shocking the world in Game 1 and bringing the final countdown on Canadian hockey the home side would take Game 1 of the best of three series to the tune of a 3-1 win with goals coming from Brad Marchand, Steven Stamkos and Patrice Bergeron on Tuesday night.
Even though things got off to a 2-0 Canada start, Europe wouldn’t let the Canada break things open as Thomas Tatar would trim the lead down to 2-1 with his third goal of the tournament as Carey Price at one point in this one was on pace to face 50 shots from Europe but he slammed the door on everything else in this one to the final tune of 32 saves.
Andrej Sereka on a breakaway with the score at 2-1 could have changed everything but he too would be denied by the resident Canadiens netminder.
This may have been another game in which Canada allowed one goal or less in the tournament but to D man Drew Doughty this team still has a few things to clean up going into Game 2 and can’t become complainant or think that because they are a star filled team they can believe that other players will always be there to bail them out if they make a mistake.
“I wouldn’t say that because obviously we’re fortunate that we got the win tonight even though we didn’t play our best hockey but we can’t think that, we have to think that we have to play our best hockey in order to win this”.
Maybe the best Canadian quote after Game 1 came from Price upon when asked on if this is now in the bag for Canada he replied simply after a long pause with “Really?”
Not a soul from the red and white side thinks Game 2 will be a cakewalk.
On the European side of things head coach Ralph Kreuger admitted that his team had breakdowns in the second and third period of this game and has to get their special teams going to get back into this series as they went 0/2 with the man advantage.
So I think that was — the weakest part of our game was that little stretch in the second, but I liked a lot of the first and a lot of the third and pieces of the second, so we’ve got to build on that, and we definitely, definitely need to get our power play firing, which has been our Achilles heel here offensively.
Dropping the first game is not the end of the world though to Coach Kreuger as playing with their backs against the wall is nothing new even going back to pre-tournament action. Learning from what happened in the first game and using the lessons learned to force Game 3 is something that has to happen tonight.
“Well, we’ve done well with adversity in this month. We’ve had a few situations of it, and I think knowing these players, this will give us more fuel for Game 2, and we’ll come out of this stronger. Again, we’re here to continue to grow and to learn and evolve, and we’re very angry right now, which is a good thing. But we also are confident with what we felt today, and it makes us that much more frustrated at the moment.
I’m sure we’re going to come out fighting very strong in Game 2.
The rosters in this one for both sides are basically the same as we’ll either be at the end of the night talking about the continued domination of Canadian hockey or a chance for David to take down Goliath on Saturday.