Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

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On Golden Ponds: Canada Bides Time Until Offense Clicks

By Jim Iovino
|  Monday, Feb 17, 2014  |  Updated 10:17 AM CDT
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Canada Bides Time Until Offense Clicks

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Sidney Crosby #87 of Canada warms up prior to the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group B game against Austria on day seven of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 14, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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While Team Russia is wondering where its offense has gone, there are quite a few people up in the Great White North wondering the same thing about Team Canada.

The gold-medal favorites have scored 11 goals in three games, but six of those goals have been scored by defensemen Drew Doughty (4) and Shea Weber (2).

Heck, outside of Jeff Carter, who has netted three goals, there have been only two other forwards to find the back of the net. Jamie Benn and Ryan Getzlaf have scored one goal apiece.

Some on Team Canada has suggested that the larger ice surface, while providing more room to maneuver on the outside, actually limits scoring chances as teams collapse around their goaltenders to form a human shot-absorbing wall.

"Scoring isn't easy," Team Canada coach Mike Babcock stated. "We have to find a way to be better in that area. And probably play simpler and throw more pucks in and go get there and be happy to throw it off the goalie and hope for a bounce and bury a rebound. To me, you have to put your work in front of your skill and get to work."

And then there is the issue that Babcock is worried about most -- line chemistry. Finding the right mix for his four forward lines appears to be a struggle. He has tried several different combinations up front so far, and more changes are expected for the team's quarterfinal matchup Wednesday against either Switzerland or Latvia.

Canada would like to see Babcock find the right combination for team captain Sidney Crosby's line. He has two assists in the three games, and has seen his linemates rotate almost constantly.

Up to this point, the "highlight" of his Sochi Games is drawing a penalty Sunday against Finland and then being called out by Teemu Selanne for what he thought was diving. The two had some words on the ice that made their way around Twitter via animated gif.

Babcock doesn't care what Selanne thinks of Crosby. And he doesn't seem all that concerned about Sid the Kid's lack of offense so far this tournament.

"Everyone evaluates Sid on scoring, and I evaluate Sid on winning," Babcock said. "That's what we came here for. So as long as we don't get confused, we're fine."
 

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