Sochi hockey notebook: Crosby scoreless but still efficient
By Dejan Kovacevic
Published: Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, 3:27 p.m.
SOCHI, Russia — Sidney Crosby went scoreless in Canada's opening 3-1 victory over Norway on Thursday, but it wasn't for lack of offense created.
Crosby set up no fewer than six different teammates with golden chances, including linemates Chris Kunitz and Jeff Carter, but the shots went wide or were stopped by Lars Haugen, Norway's goaltender.
Thinking pass first?
“Not really,” Crosby said. “But they were packing the middle pretty good, stringing four across the blue line. You've got to move the puck. I thought we all had some great chances.”
It didn't appear there was much chemistry between Crosby and Carter, specifically, but Canada coach Mike Babcock left them intact through the game. The Kunitz-Crosby-Carter trio generated no points and three shots.
“I thought it went well,” Crosby said. “It takes time.”
Kunitz takes licking
Kunitz was hit hard three times, bouncing back with each and insisting he was fine afterward.
“That was fun, actually,” he said. “It was good to get involved physically.”
Martin moves up
Paul Martin was moved up to the United States' top defense pairing, along with Ryan Suter, and they tied with a game-high 19 minutes, 46 seconds of ice time in the 7-1 rout of Slovakia.
Dan Bylsma has used Martin and Brooks Orpik as the Penguins' shutdown pair, but he apparently isn't using that term in the Olympics.
“I think we all know Paul and Brooks are both capable of that, but there are a lot of guys here who can do the job, “ Bylsma said.
Orpik was used as a seventh defenseman and logged only 1:47 in the opening period but finished with 10:51 and a plus-3 rating.
Evgeni Malkin had a breakaway goal and two assists, working mostly well with Alexander Ovechkin in Russia's wobbly 5-2 victory over Slovenia. He also had a team-high five shots.
In one of many head-scratching moves by Russia coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, Malkin was relegated to the second power-play unit as had been the case in practice all week. Bilyaletdinov also had his players, including the Malkin-Ovechkin line, dropping back into a passive 1-4 trap against an opponent that had one NHL player and should have been overwhelmed.
Jussi on adjustment
It's something of a myth that only North American NHL players have trouble adjusting to the larger international rinks. Jussi Jokinen spoke candidly about that after Finland's 8-4 rout of Austria.
“I've been in the NHL for 10 years, and that's the rink I know, the rink I like to play in,” Jokinen, who had a goal and an assist, said. “Being out there and trying to find where you are and learning it all over again, it's not easy.”
Dejan Kovacevic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @Dejan_Kovacevic.
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