World Cup Day One Review

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The World Cup got underway last night with Group A action between Europe and USA followed by hosts Canada against the Czech Republic.

Yesterday I posted my first video blog over on YouTube where I briefly previewed the tournament and you can watch that below.

Hopefully you all enjoyed that video but now let’s go back to written content to talk about last night’s games.

First up Team Europe took on USA in the Air Canada Centre and it was a very disappointing outing for the Americans.

Europe got off to a quick start, using their impressive speed to burn the US defenceman, with 4:19 played Frans Nielsen stormed down the right-wing before firing a hard pass to the front of the net to the tape of Slovakian Marian Gaborik’s stick to give the Europeans a 1 – 0 lead.

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USA did manage to get some momentum but it was killed when Ryan Kesler was sent to the box for holding on a call that may have actually saved a goal on another speedy break by Europe.

Despite going a man down, the US managed to kill off the penalty and Jonathan Quick blanked Europe for the rest of the period, stopping four out of five shots in the period.

The US went harder for the rest of the game, they outshot Europe 35 – 17 at the end of the game, but it was Europe who made the most of their opportunities and that came again four minutes into the second period.

Patrick Kane circled around the top of the offensive zone, only to have the puck stripped from him, an easy pass found German Leon Draisaitl who went in 2 on 0 against Quick, passing across crease to Swiss Nino Niederreiter who returned the pass back for Draisaitl who lifted it over the pad of Quick for a 2 – 0 lead.

Down by two, the Americans thought they’d pulled it back to within one, a shot from the point by Ryan Suter was stopped by Jaroslav Halak, then the puck bounced favourably to James van Riemsdyk, coming off his body, onto the head of Derek Stepan and over Halak into the net.

After review though, the referees determined that JVR had intentionally used his arms to push the puck towards the net, ruling it no goal which may have split opinion but I think it was the right call.

 

There was one more goal in the game, late in the second Europe broke into the zone and a wrist shot by Jannik Hansen was deflected in front by Frenchman Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare to give Europe a 3 – 0 lead that stuck until the final buzzer.

With Europe taking the win in game one of the tournament, it was onto the hosts and favourites to try to pick up the two points as they took on the Czech Republic.

As expected, Canada dominated this game, shutting out the Czech’s in a big scoreline that at times made the Canadians look as though they were playing against kids.

It was midway through the opening frame when Canada netted their first, and who better to open the scoring but Captain Sidney Crosby. In the first minute he saw his breakaway effort easily thwarted by Czech goalie Michal Neuvirth, but then with 8 minutes gone, Crosby rounded the net and banked it off Neuvirth and into the net for the lead. The Czech’s did challenge the call for interference but the goal stood to give Canada a 1 – 0 lead.

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With less than three minutes remaining in the first, Canada won a faceoff which found its way back to Brent Burns who’s powerful slapshot was tipped by Brad Marchand for a 2 – 0 lead.

Then with less than 10 seconds to go, the Czech’s just needed to hold onto the puck to see out the period, but they couldn’t get out of their zone, Crosby created the turnover, Marchand fed Patrice Bergeron who put the puck into the net with less than a second to play.

Midway through the second it was more of the same, Crosby was fed out in the slot by Matt Duchene who played a nice backhand pass to Joe Thornton who had nothing but net to shoot at and didn’t waste his opportunity to go 4 – 0 up.

Five minutes later it was a five goals, this time coming on the powerplay where Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was impressive using his body out front in a net presence clinic. Ryan Getzlaf fed the puck in front and all Toews had to do was put his stick on the ice to tip it past Neuvirth for a 5 – 0 lead.

With less than 10 minutes left in the game, Canada were back on the man advantage and Jonathan Toews was instrumental in another powerplay goal. With the Canadians cycling around the zone, Toews was right in Neuvirths eye line the whole time so when eventually Alex Pietrangelo fired a wrist shot, it skimmed by Toews and into the net to finish the rout with the hosts taking a 6 – 0 victory in the tournament’s second shutout in just two games.

With Group A underway, Group B gets started tonight as Sweden take on Russia and the kids of North America take on Finland.

 

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