February 23, 2014

Canada Wins 2014 Sochi Olympics Gold Medal!

Having the two best big-game players in the world often helps. And even though neither player had scored a goal in the entire 2014 Sochi Olympics, leading the offense for Canada in the 3-0 gold medal win vs. Sweden was Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby.

Just like in the gold medal in Vancouver in 2010 it was Jonathan Toews opening the scoring in the gold medal game in Sochi. At 12:55 of the first period, Jeff Carter centered the puck for Toews to redirect past Swedish goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Sidney Crosby stripped defenseman Jonathan Ericsson of the puck and headed in on a clear breakaway. He deked to his right and deposited the puck past Henrik Lundqvist at 15:43 of the second period to extend Canada's lead to 2-0. Canada controlled the game physically in that period, establishing their cycle game and wearing down the Swedish defense.

Sweden really activated their blueliners early in the third in an attempt to get on the board early in the third but Canada, as they have done all tournament, made the quick adjustment. The more the Swedes challenged the more Canada responded with dangerous odd-man rushes the other way.

Chris Kunitz put the final dagger to the Swedish heart with an unassisted marker in the third period.

Carey Price continued his incredible play. He seemingly swallowed up every rebound all tournament long and ended the games with a shutout streak of 164 minutes and 19 seconds. Unbelievably Team Canada surrendered only 3 goals against in the entire 6 game tournament, including only 1 goal in the three medal round games. Price had two shutouts, while Roberto Luongo had another in his only game of the tournament.

Canada's MVP just might be Mike Babcock and Canada's coaching staff. They identified a perfect big ice game strategy and then, just as importantly, got every player to buy into the game plan. It worked perfectly, and all in less than 2 weeks.

Sweden had to play this game without their top center. Niklas Backstrom, who had excelled with Daniel Sedin and Louie Eriksson, was unable to play. Initially it was reported as an ill-timed migraine headache, but reports are now swirling that he failed a drug test after taking some cold medicine. With Sweden also missing top centers Henrik Sedin and Henrik Zetterberg the top line was centered by Jimmie Ericsson - the only non-NHLer on the Swedish roster.

For Canada it was their 10th consecutive game won dating back to the beginning of the medal round in 2010. Canada becomes the first team to repeat as gold medal champions in the NHL era at the Olympics. Canada has now won three of the five NHL Olympics, including three of the last four.

Canada also becomes the only team in the NHL era to win the gold medal with an undefeated record.

For Canada it is their 9th mens Olympic championship.

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