Wrapping up the first games of the World Cup of Hockey..
Crosby shines for Canada
Team Canada opened with a 6-0 drubbing of the Czechs and their captain, also our Pittsburgh Penguins captain, was the best player on the ice. Sidney Crosby was dominant from the first shift (getting but failing on a breakaway) and ended up scoring 1 goal, assisting on 2 more and generally looking like he could do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted to.
The Great One chimed in when asked about who the best player in the world is.
"I think people can put that all to rest," Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky said with a hearty laugh Sunday morning. "He's proven over and over that he's the best player in the game today. And it seems like the more important the game, the more impact that he makes on a game. He's a tremendous player, and great leaders are the guys who come through in the clutch -- and he comes through in the clutch quite a bit."
Crosby and longtime national team linemate Patrice Bergeron also have a secret weapon; talking on the ice in French.
"I think it just comes down to: we both like to support the puck. We both like to create turnovers. Neither one of us likes to wait for things to happen. We like to dictate things a little bit with turnovers and jump on pucks. The fact that (Bergeron) can play both positions — center and wing — that kind of helps. There are some different situations where you have to be flexible out on the ice. I think the give-and-go game is one we like to play."
Crosby and Canada will look to keep rolling in their second game, tomorrow (Tuesday) night against the hapless Americans who lost 3-0 to Team Europe.
Murray minds the fort for the kids
Game 1 was a success for Team North America, the 23 and under all-star team. Matt Murray capably stopped 24 of 25 shots to get the win for the youngsters, who controlled most of the game and overwhelmed a pretty decent Team Finland to the tune of 4-1, with shots being 43-25.
Olli Maatta had about as good of a game as possible for a team getting shelled; he had a Finland team high 23:02 played (and was only on the ice for one goal against, and also for the lone goal for). Maatta was also credited with a game high 5 hits, 2 takeaways (to go along with 1 giveaway), a blocked shot and 2 shots on goal in the losing effort.
Team NA gets the Russians today, and with back-to-backs hopefully they'll give Murray a night off, but with the way he steadily minded the net, one would think he's still the #1 option for them moving forward in the tournament.
Sweden outlasts Russia
Carl Hagelin and Patric Hornqvist got maybe a little bit of bragging rights over NHL teammate Evgeni Malkin when the Swedes held on to beat Russia 2-1 in the other opening game involving Penguins players.
Hagelin earned the primary assist on Victor Hedman's goal that ended up being the game-winner. Malkin got a primary assist of his own on the lone Russian goal scored by Alex Ovechkin.
As mentioned above, the Russians play the talented young Team NA tonight and could be in another very tough position to try and advance should they lose this game too. Sweden gets their biggest rival in Finland on Tuesday night for their next game.