Canadians Very Strong in the First
OTTAWA--Maybe another goal. Or two.
Otherwise, Pat Quinn couldn't have asked for a better first period from his Team Canada juniors tonight.
The shots were 13 for Canada to 12 for Sweden, but that misrepresents what actually happened. Canada scored at the 38 second mark and had conservatively six other very good scoring chances.
The Swedes? Maybe one, a wrist shot from Magnus Svensson Paajarvi from the mid-slot. Otherwise, Dustin Tokarski simply needed to be solid in the Canadian net and control his rebounds, which he did very well. The yellow-clad squad had lots of offensive zone time, but that didn't translate into top-flight opportunities. In all, the Canadian defensive positioning was much stronger than it was against the Russians, its puck support was improved and in general the Canadians weren't allowing the Swedes to open up the ice quite as much.
Swedish goalie Jacob Markstrom, meanwhile, had to have an outstanding first period. Canada led 1-0 after 20 minutes after P.K. Subban shovelled in a loose puck in the blue paint, a shot Markstrom didn't really have a chance on. Otherwise, he didn't a terrific job, although he looked rather silly taking a dramatic flop in his crease after he was contacted by his own player, Sebastien Erixon.
Angelo Esposito might have been Canada's best forward in the first, and from the beginning of the tournament until tonight has probably been the team's most improved skater. John Tavares, Esposito's linemate, drew the roughing penalty on Swedish centre Mikael Backlund with only 22 seconds gone in the first and was in general much more of a presence in the first period than he'd been against Russia on Saturday night.
Stefan Della Rovere, meanwhile, landed a couple of good hits, but again found himself in the penalty box with an unnecessary high-sticking penalty. How can Quinn keep playing this kid if the game stays close?