Weber, St. Louis lead Team Canada to victory
Combine for 8 points in 7-3 dismantling of Slovakia at hockey worlds
Canada will soon have to start to work harder for goals at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships in Switzerland rather than having them come as easy as finding chocolate in the host country's stores.
The Canadians had five power play goals in a 7-3 romp over Slovakia on Tuesday and now have scored 22 goals in what you would call two easy games and one slightly more difficult one so far in the 16-team tournament.
The Canadians are in top spot in Group A, but you would expect that given that their classmates include the Slovaks, Belarus and Hungary.
The road to gold starts for real on Thursday when the Canadians play the winner of a Group B match on Wednesday between Finland and the Czech Republic in the qualification round.
Parade to the penalty box
If there was a lesson learned in the game against Slovakia that the Canadians take into the next round it is to stay out of the penalty box and work harder on the penalty kill.
The Slovaks gave the Canadians a fair run when playing five-on-five, but the parade of penalties snuffed out any chance of perhaps an upset or a closer score.
"The power play [4-for-12] was a little sloppy in the first two games, but we’re working on it," said Jason Spezza, who scored twice, making him the tournament goal-scoring leader with four.
On the flip side, the Canadian penalty killers didn’t exactly win anyone over with their effort. They stood around too much and watched the Slovaks convert twice for goals on slick passing late in the game.
Derek Roy, Shane Doan, Shea Webber, Ian White and Steven Stamkos also scored in Canada’s third straight win.
Martin St. Louis had four assists on the day and now has eight points in his last two games and a tournament-leading nine points.
Dany Heatley had two assists in the game and increased his total to 35, which moved him past Steve Yzerman for the Canadian record for assists at a world championship.
Weber is weapon of choice for Ruff
Weber, with three goals on blasts from the point, is now clearly established as the focal point of Canada’s power play, "the real weapon," as head coach Lindy Ruff calls it.
"It’s been our focus at practice," Ruff said, "But there’s options if Weber is taken away. Marty St. Louis is a very creative guy. He can make things happen if we don’t go there. If they pay too much attention to one person, the options should be there to make other plays, and I think we’ve seen that so far."
Stamkos is one of three teenagers on the Canadian team, and he is as anxious as anyone to face a tougher opponent.
"This was a little more emotionally charged game, and that is what we needed going into the important games," he said. "We can really focus now, and it is time to pump up the intensity level and really go hard."
The game definitely had its chippy moments, and Slovak defenceman Boris Vlabik found himself in the middle of a few scrums.
Vlabik plays for the Atlanta Thrashers and is in the same division as St. Louis, who plays for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Vlabik is much taller and heavier than St. Louis, and when the pair had a few words, Shayne Doan stepped in to rescue his pint-sized teammate. That led to a few wrestles and tussles by the players on the ice.
James Neal left the game in the first period when he was cut in the face by Ladislav Nagy’s high stick. The four officials on the ice somehow missed the infraction, and no penalty was called.
Neal was taken to the hospital after suffering a laceration to his eyelid. Hockey Canada said Neal's injury was not serious, but he did require stitches around the eye.
Russia 4, Switzerland 2
At Bern, Alexei Morozov broke a third-period tie and Ilya Bryzgalov made 37 saves as Russia defeated host Switzerland.
The defending champions also had goals from Vitali Atyushov, Alexander Perezhogin and Ilya Kovalchuk. Martin Pluss and Ryan Gardner replied for the Swiss.
Belarus 3, Hungary 1
At Kloten near Zurich, the other championships venue, Alexei Ugarov scored the winner with 5:35 left in the third period as Belarus survived a scare from Hungary.
Alexei Kaliuzhny and Mikhail Grabovski had the other goals for Belarus.
Levente Szuper made 39 saves and Imre Peterdi scored for Hungary, which was dropped to the relegation round.
France 2, Germany 1
At Bern, Luc Tardif's goal at 16:48 of the first period held up as the winner in France's upset win over the Germans.
Anthoine Lussier also scored for France, which celebrated the victory like it had won a big playoff series. Jochen Hecht had the lone goal for Germany.
With files from The Canadian Press