Ice hockey: Canada braces for low-scoring knockout phase

Mon Feb 17, 2014 9:52am EST
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By Frank Pingue

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Canada have not shown the offensive firepower many expected from such a talented group of forwards and the men's ice hockey team at the Sochi Games do not sound like they expect much to change.

The defending gold medalists secured a bye to the quarter-finals after a 2-1 overtime win over Finland on Sunday in a tight defensive battle that lacked emotion and flow.

"The best thing for us is what happened yesterday, our players know this is what we're in for," Canadian head coach Mike Babcock told reporters on Monday.

"That's what the game is. If we think we're getting seven, we're watching the wrong sport. It's gonna be 2-1."

Heading into the tournament, many critics suggested the North American brand of ice hockey was not well suited for larger international-size ice surfaces.

The Canadians have won the puck possession battle in each of their games but, despite spending plenty of time in the opposing team's zone, have been unable to create lots of chances.

"It's not easy to get to the middle. The European teams clog it up pretty good and usually have five guys in the middle of the ice," said Jeff Carter, who leads all Canadian forwards with three goals in Sochi.

"It's all about your compete level, battle and try to create space and get pucks in the net.   Continued...

Canada's Drew Doughty laughs with Finland's goalie Tuukka Rask after Canada defeated Finland in overtime in their men's preliminary round ice hockey game at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Brian Snyder