Canada v. Norway Post-Game: Relentless

via cdn.picapp.com

This game was almost perfect.  The Canadians didn't give up any big scoring chances in the first period but they didn't create many for themselves either.  The first intermission was replete with anxiety.  Bob McKenzie worried about the Canadians losing battles (they did).  James Duthie worried about the offence - it had been six periods since the Canadian Olympic team had scored a goal (technically true but hilariously irrelevant).  Pierre McGuire worried about players not shooting the puck (how about that "tape to tape to tape to tape" passing play?).  In the end the worrying was nothing more than vapid bluster, as the Canadians went on to rout the Norwegians, scoring eight goals over the next two periods, and in the process they kept themselves very much in contention for the top seed once the playoff round arrives.  The more sportsmanlike among us - I'm thinking Bruce and Doogie - probably cringed through their smiles as the last couple of goals squeaked through the gargantuan Norwegian backup (seriously, he makes Dustin Penner look svelte) to finally make the score 8-0 but it was what needed to happen.  Given the tournament format, the Canadians could be nothing less than relentless (and not the Steve Tambellini version either) in their pursuit of superior goal differential. After the jump we'll take a look at some of the tactics used by the Canadian bench.

Since we don't have any of the advanced statistics for these games (so far as I know) I decided to watch this particular game paying careful attention to who was put in the ice in different situations.  Below I'll list the complete play-by-play and then afterwards talk a little bit about what the Canadian coaches looked like they were trying to achieve.  The players will be marked by their jersey numbers for ease of writing but I'll provide a legend first:

2 - Duncan Keith
6 - Shea Weber
7 - Brent Seabrook
8 - Drew Doughty
10 - Brenden Morrow
11 - Patrick Marleau
12 - Jarome Iginla
15 - Dany Heatley
16 - Jonathan Toews
18 - Mike Richards
19 - Joe Thornton
20 - Chris Pronger
21 - Eric Staal
22 - Dan Boyle
24 - Corey Perry
27 - Scott Niedermayer
37 - Patrice Bergeron
51 - Ryan Getzlaf
61 - Rick Nash
87 - Sidney Crosby

First Period

61-87-37 and 27-06 for NZ FO
15-19-11 and 20-22
21-51-24 and 02-07 for NZ FO
10-16-12 and 27-08 for OZ FO
10-16-12 and 27-08 for DZ FO
61-87-37 and 20-06
11-15-19 and 20-06
21-51-24 and 02-22
18-16-12 and 27-07 for NZ FO
61-87-37 and 20-08
15-19-11 and 02-06
21-51-24 and 02-06 ends in Cdn. penalty


16-37 and 22-20 for DZ FO
61-37 and 22-20 when 16 leaves to bench after FO win
16-10 and 07-02
11-21 and 27-08
11-21 and 27-08 for NZ FO
19-87 and 27-08 penalty ends


19-87-15 and 27-08 for DZ FO resulted from icing
21-51-24 and 20-22
21-51-24 and 02-07
18-12-16 and 02-07
18-12-16 and 02-07 for OZ FO
61-87-37 and 27-06 for NZ FO
61-87-37 and 27-06 for DZ FO resulted from icing
61-87-37 and 27-06 for DZ FO resulted from icing
19-11-15 and 02-08 ends in Nwy. penalty


87-61-18 and 22-06 for OZ FO from PP
87-61-18 and 22-06 for OZ FO
11-19-15 and 20-08 for OZ FO
21-51-24 and 02-07 for DZ FO power play ends


21-51-24 and 02-07
10-16-12 and 06-27 for OZ FO
21-51-24 and 06-27
21-51-24 and 06-27 for DZ FO resulted from icing
21-51-24 and 20-22
61-87-37 and 02-08
18-87-37 and 02-08 for OZ FO
11-19-15 and 06-22 for OZ FO ends in Nwy. penalty

51-87-24 and 20-08 for OZ FO from PP
51-87-24 and 20-08 for NZ FO power play ends

51-87-24 and 20-08

Second Period

61-87-37 and 06-27 for NZ FO
21-51-24 and 22-20 ends in Nwy. penalty

19-15-11 and 06-22 for OZ FO from PP
19-15-11 and 06-22 for OZ FO
19-15-11 and 20-22
61-87-12 and 08-20 for NZ FO ends in Cdn. Goal

21-51-24 and 02-07 for NZ FO
21-51-24 and 02-07 for NZ FO
18-16-10 and 02-07 for DZ FO
19-15-11 and 27-22
19-15-11 and 27-22 for DZ FO resulted from icing
19-15-11 and 20-22 ends in Cdn. Goal

61-87-12 and 08-02 for NZ FO
18-16-37 and 27-06 for OZ FO
21-51-24 and 20-22 for OZ FO
19-15-11 and 20-22 for DZ FO
19-15-11 and 07-22
61-87-12 and 07-22
61-87-37 and 06-27 ends in Cdn. penalty

16-10 and 27-06 for DZ FO
21-11 and 08-20 for DZ FO ends in Cdn. penalty

16 and 27-06 for DZ FO
16 and 27-07 penalty ends

37-18 and 07-02
11-10 and 07-02
37-18 and 06-20 penalty ends and ends in Cdn. Goal

21-51-24 and 08-27 for NZ FO
61-87-12 and 22-02 for OZ FO
18-16-37 and 08-20 for OZ FO
18-16-37 and 08-20 for DZ FO resulted from icing
11-19-15 and 08-20
11-19-15 and 06-27 for OZ FO ends in Nwy. penalty

21-51-24 and 27-20 for OZ FO from PP
61-87-12 and 06-22 power play ends

18-87-10 and 06-22
18-10-16 and 02-08
11-15-19 and 27-07
11-15-19 and 27-07 NZ FO ends in Cdn. penalty

16-87 and 20-06 for DZ FO
37-10 and 27-08 for DZ FO
11-18 and 07-02

Third Period

16-18 and 06-27 for NZ FO
37-10 and 06-27 for DZ FO penalty ends

10-87-12 and 20-22
61-87-12 and 20-22 ends in Cdn. penalty

16-18 and 02-07
37-10 and 02-06
21-11 and 27-06
16-18 and 20-08 for NZ FO
16-37 and 20-08 for DZ FO
37-10 and 20-08 penalty ends

18-87-16 and 27-22
18-16-24 and 27-22-(51) ends in delayed penalty and Cdn. Goal

11-15-19 and 02-07 for NZ FO
61-87-12 and 20-22
21-51-24 and 27-08 end in Nwy. penalty


15-19-11 and 06-22 for OZ FO from PP end in Cdn. Goal

18-16-37 and 02-07 for NZ FO
18-16-37 and 02-07 for NZ FO
61-87-12 and 02-07 ends in Cdn. Goal

21-51-24 and 20-22 for NZ FO
61-87-12 and 20-22 for OZ FO
15-19-11 and 08-27
15-19-11 and 02-06
16-37-10 and 02-06 for OZ FO
21-51-24 and 20-22 for OZ FO
21-51-24 and 20-22 for OZ FO ends in Cdn. Goal

61-87-12 and 27-07 for NZ FO
15-19-11 and 02-08 for OZ FO
15-19-11 and 02-08 for DZ FO
18-10-16 and 20-22
18-10-16 and 02-06
21-51-24 and 02-06 for OZ FO
61-87-12 and 27-07 for NZ FO
15-19-11 and 20-22
18-10-37 and 02-08
21-51-24 and 27-06
61-87-12 and 02-22 ends in Cdn. Goal

15-19-11 and 02-22 for NZ FO
18-16-37 and 02-22 ends in Nwy. penalty

21-51-24 and 06-22 for OZ FO from PP

End of Game

Some interesting things to note.  The Canadian defense were basically rolling without formal pairs for the majority of the game but not completely without rhyme or reason.  At the beginning they went through in order with each guy getting a turn in kind at EV as you can see by the first eight or so lines.  It served to get everyone in the game right off the top without being too confusing.  The rest of the game didn't follow this exact pattern but also wasn't without rhyme or reason.  Duncan Keith, for example, played several shifts with Drew Doughty, Brent Seabrook, Dan Boyle and Shea Weber but none with Chris Pronger or Scott Niedermayer.  As you may have guessed the four guys he played with are all righties and the two guys he didn't shoot left, just like Keith.  The same is also true of Pronger and Niedermayer who shared only one shift together when the coaches decided to try the "all-Ducks and Staal" power play. 

Looking at the righties, Brent Seabrook played most of his time with Keith, but also spent time with Pronger, Niedermayer and the right-handed Dan Boyle.  Shea Weber also took shifts with Keith, Pronger, Niedermayer and, once again, Dan Boyle.  The odd man out here is Boyle who has been asked to play both left and right defense on the club at different times in the game.  Other than that, the coaches tried to distribute the ice time pretty evenly among the defenders using everyone at even strength.  Going forward it looks like the pairings might end up being Keith-Seabrook, Pronger-Doughty/Boyle and Niedermayer-Weber based on the most common partners.  Or maybe they'll keep up the rotation.

The forwards had a little bit more consistency despite having thirteen bodies on four lines.  Heatley-Thornton-Marleau was together the entire game and none of them took shifts with other linemates unless someone was caught out on an icing.  The other line that looked pretty much set was the Perry-Getzlaf-Staal group who, again, rarely played with other linemates and generated a lot of quality scoring opportunities.  Given the performance of these two groups (they looked very good to me) and the thinking behind picking the team based on "player chemistry" I expect to see those two groups stay together for the duration of the tournament.

Sidney Crosby moved around quite a bit more at EV, sometimes because he has a tendency to take longer shifts and sometimes because the coaches were trying him with different guys.  But for the most part he spent the first period and a half with Rick Nash and Patrice Bergeron and the last period and a half with Rick Nash and Jarome Iginla.  The latter grouping seemed to work a lot better but I did notice that after the switch to Iginla the Nash-Crosby pair went out for only one defensive zone draw (that's no sin, there weren't many non-icing DZ draws) and Iginla was replaced by Bergeron (that's the part I find interesting).  As the tournament progresses I could see that becoming a pattern.  Both Bergeron and Crosby are very good on faceoffs and using them together in defensive situations might be in the plans going forward.  If so, Iginla becomes, almost exclusively, an offensive weapon.  Now, this theory is based on exactly one faceoff plus the fact that they played Bergeron with Crosby for an entire period.  But I think it's a good idea.  It plays both Bergeron and Iginla to their strengths and could work well as the competition gets tougher.  That leaves us with Bergeron, Morrow, Toews and Richards who all took turns playing with one another.  Once in a while Crosby would jump down to play with two of them but for the most part these four guys are the designated extras.

And that brings me to the penalty kill.  The Canadians had one 5-on-3 to kill in the game and they gave the honour to Jonathan Toews who is the fifth option to kill penalties with the Blackhawks.  Given his role on this team (4th line at EV) it makes sense to get him some minutes on the PK but he seems an odd choice for 5-on-3.  In addition to Toews, eight of the other forwards took shifts on the PK which seems like a pretty high number to me but some of those only took a single shift and probably aren't going to be consistent options.  As the game moved on certain patterns started to emerge in terms of "most common pairings" and it looks to me like we're going to see Bergeron-Morrow, Richards-Toews and Marleau-Staal as the three main pairs.  The fact that they used three pairs implies a pretty aggressive strategy.  It worked against Norway but that doesn't prove a whole lot.  Overall, it's a pretty inexperienced set of forwards to have killing elite level power plays.  Only Marleau is top two in PK ice time per game on his team.  Richards, Morrow and Bergeron are all a respectable 3rd of 4th, while Toews is a less respectable fifth and Staal doesn't really kill penalties.  The problem is, aside from replacing Staal, they just didn't pick many guys who kill a lot of penalties.  Moving Rick Nash in for Staal adds a guy who is 3rd on his team in PK ice time per game and that should help but there are no Sammy Pahlsson's here.

Fortunately, we have plenty of guys that kill penalties on defence.  Niedermayer, Pronger and Keith all lead their teams in PK minutes while Dan Boyle and Brent Seabrook both play very significant roles on two of the top PK's in the NHL.  However, the coaches in this one decided to distribute the time pretty evenly among Niedermayer, Pronger, Keith, Seabrook, Weber and Doughty.  I don't know why they'd give minutes to Weber and Doughty instead of Boyle (SJ has an incredible PK) or even instead of just going with the two obvious pairs (Nieds-Prongs and Keith-Seabrook).  Those guys know how to kill penalties.  Let them do it.

The power play featured pretty much everyone at different times.  It looks to me like the coaches haven't yet decided on PP personnel though it must be tempting to go with the Anaheim four at times.  The Ducks had a very good power play when Pronger-Niedermayer-Getzlaf-Perry were all together and they could be a pretty lethal bunch if you add, say, Crosby to the mix.  I was surprised they only tried those four together once but the PP did pot a couple of goals, so who am I to complain?

So there you go C+B/Canadian Olympic Team fans!  Hopefully this little analysis helps us to understand what's going on with the team.  It will be fun to see what adjustments they make when the team plays Switzerland on Thursday (5:30 p.m. MST).

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join The Copper & Blue

You must be a member of The Copper & Blue to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Copper & Blue. You should read them.

Join The Copper & Blue

You must be a member of The Copper & Blue to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Copper & Blue. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9355_tracker