Canada took home its second of back-to-back Olympic hockey gold medals on Sunday, beating Sweden 3-0 in the tournament finale at the Bolshoy Ice Dome. Here's how we saw it all break down.
GOLD STAR: Jonathan Toews put Canada on the board to stay, had four shots on net and topped all Canadian forwards with 19:13 of ice time in the most important game of the tournament. Amazing to think that in his mid-20s that Toews has two World Junior championships, two Stanley Cup championships and two Olympic gold medals with chances for many more in his future. The two-way center with skills -- like Patrice Bergeron -- is just a natural born winner and leader that will always give 100 percent no matter what the situation. This is why Canada wins so very much at these hockey tournaments.
BLACK EYE: The IOC reportedly suspending Nicklas Backstrom a couple of hours prior to the Gold Medal game for taking an anti-allergy medication really takes something away from the entire proceedings. Team Sweden loses their best center with Henrik Zetterberg already lost for the entire tournament, and it significantly deflates a Swedish team that was going to need everything they had to beat Team Canada. If it turns out to be a legitimate banned substance Backstrom is taking then I’ll recant all my criticism, but I think this kind of thing is another of the straws that will ending breaking down the partnership between the NHL and the Olympics.
TURNING POINT: It was as simple as Jonathan Toews scoring in the first period. Sweden -- much like the US -- couldn’t get the puck away from the Canadian defenseman, couldn’t get second chance opportunities in the defensive zone and couldn’t do anything against a roster full of dominant, determined players. Canada outshot Sweden 24-13 as they constricted the life out of them in the final two periods, and Carey Price was there to make all of the perfunctory saves for Team Canada. Team Canada played exactly like their coach Mike Babcock preaches with the Detroit Red Wings: efficient, clean puck possession style that dominates in the offensive zone, and mistake-free hockey in the D-zone that allows for only a single chance before the talented defense corps sweeps the puck out of harms way. It wasn’t pack it in defense or a conservative approach from Team Canada in this tournament; it was a team that was simply leagues better than everybody else when it mattered.
HONORABLE MENTION: Sidney Crosby scored his first goal of the tournament in the Gold medal game, won 9-of-16 face-offs and continued to play on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kunitz that dominated play. Crosby was doing all of the little things throughout the tournament rather than chasing after his offense, and that ended up serving Canada well in the end. If he does that during the Stanley Cup playoffs then the Penguins are going to be a force. A really nice backhanded finish for Crosby on his goal as well. After not really showing up in much of the preliminary rounds, all of Canada’s best forwards came to play in the medal rounds.
BRUINS BY THE NUMBERS: Three shots on net, 5-of-9 face-off wins and another gold medal for Patrice Bergeron in 13:15 of ice time. Bergeron now has a World Junior championship, a Stanley Cup championship and two Gold Medals amidst one of the best generations of Canadian hockey players when it’s all said and done. One shot on net and a minus-2 for Loui Eriksson in 17:52 of ice time for Team Sweden, but a solid tournament overall for the Swedish winger with a chance to really change his luck in the final 25 games of the Bruins season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Sometimes I think we get a little bit confused. It’s not about who scores the goals or who blocks the shots or who plays. It’s about winning. It’s about Canada. It’s about hockey supremacy. We like to brag that it’s our game? If you think it’s your game, you better show it’s your game.” – Mike Babcock to the L.A. Times prior to the gold medal game, which I think encapsulates exactly what happened on Sunday.