DAY 2: FIVE CANUCKS IN ACTION ON
By Derek Jory, Canucks.com
Well, here we go again.
It’s day two of action at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver and although the weather is smashingly beautiful outside, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than inside Canada Hockey Place for another three games.
Five Canucks are in action today; Sami Salo suits up for Finland against Belarus in the first game at 12 p.m. (PST), Daniel and Henrik Sedin lead the Swedish charge against Christian Ehrhoff and the Germans at 4:30 p.m. (PST) and Pavol Demitra and the Slovakians take on the Czech Republic in the late game at 9:00 p.m. (PST).
Check the Canucks report early and often as Canucks.com reporter Derek Jory brings you all the insight from inside the arena.
SWEDEN SNEAKS PAST GERMANY
(Click here for a replay of Sweden vs. Germany)
An inch to the left and Christian Ehrhoff and Team Germany may have had a massive upset over Team Sweden, the defending Olympic gold medalist, on its hands.
With Nicklas Kronwall and Johnny Oduya in the box and score even at 0-0 early in the second period, the Germans deployed an aggressive power play attack that culminated in an Ehrhoff point shot beat Henrik Lundqvist, just not the left post.
Mattias Ohlund put Sweden in front with a power play goal a few minutes later before Loui Eriksson finished off a nice passing play from Nicklas Backstrom to give Tre Kronor a commanding 2-0 lead.
”A couple of inches and we would have got the go-ahead goal and that was obviously the key moment in the game when they came back and scored on their next power play,” said Ehrhoff, who was paired with Dennis Seidenberg.
“I had a good look at it, but obviously it didn’t go in.”
Sweden put up the least amount of goals of any winning team through five games and Daniel Sedin knows that they were lucky to burn off that 5-on-3 German power play.
Hello TSN turning point.
”That won us the game,” said Daniel. “If they score there it’s a whole different story, you don’t want to be down against this sort of team. It was a big kill for us and after we got the lead there I think we played a solid game.
”This is a tough team to play,” he added. “They can all skate and play hard, it’s just a matter of getting your team together but I think this was a step in the right direction. It could have been better but it’s a win so we’re happy.”
Daniel was part of a forward trio that included brother Henrik and Mattias Weinhandl in a reunion of a former Modo line from back in the day.
It took this line a period to get going, but once it did, its familiarity rose to the surface.
“We haven’t played together for 10 years so it’s going to take some time, but I think we got better as the game went on and had some good chances,” said Daniel.
Despite not scoring, Henrik Sedin said his line was still effective. He said Sweden doesn’t need him and Daniel to perform like NHL superstars every game because of how deep a team it is.
”We’ve got Zetterberg and Forsberg on maybe a third line, so we’re extremely deep and it’s going to be different guys stepping up every night and we don’t see ourselves as top guns.”
Sweden quietly moves to 1-0 in preliminary play, although everyone is still buzzing about the performances of Canada and Russia from day one.
That’s just fine with the Swedes.
”We like it this way,” grinned Daniel. “We have a good line-up, four solid lines and good Ds and one of the best goalies in the world so I like our chances.”
SALO AND FINS SUFFOCATE BELARUS
(Click here for a replay of Finland vs. Belarus)
Canucks defenceman Sami Salo was part of a lockdown effort by Team Finland in a 5-1 win over Team Belarus in the first game for both teams during the second day of men’s hockey at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
Salo and the Fins, backed by Miikka Kiprusoff, held Belarus to just 11 shots, four through the first two periods.
Offensively Finland was led by Niklas Hagman’s two goal performance and three assists from Mikko Koivu. Teemu Selanne had one helper for his 36th career point at the Olympics to put him in a four-way tie with Vlastimil Bubnik (TCH), Valeri Kharlamov (URS) and Harry Watson (CAN) for most all-time.
“I think we were fairly satisfied,” said Salo of the Finnish performance. “It was a lot different with the noon start and it was a little bit worrying yesterday about how we were going to come out, but I think we came out strong and everybody had their feet moving.”
Finland scored a pair of power play goals in the first and looked to be in complete control before Sergei Kostitsyn put Belarus on the board just 21 seconds into the second.
“It was a little letdown,” Salo said of the goal.
“We started the second a little slower, maybe we gave up a little bit after having a strong first and maybe we thought it was going to be easier. They got stronger at the beginning of the second, but we made some big plays and found a way to start scoring some goals.”
The Fins replied with three goals, one at the end of the second and two in the third, en route to a 5-1 win.
Salo skated with Kimmo Timonen for this game, the pair was plus-2 with right shots in just under 25 minutes of ice time each. Both were pleased with the win, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.
“We have a few things we have to correct defensively, some of the break outs we were a little out of sync but we’ve only had two very short skates so it’ll be better for sure next game.”
Similar to the welcome Roberto Luongo and Ryan Kesler received on Tuesday, Salo was greeted with a thunderous roar in what was a family affair for the blueliner. He had family members in the stands in Finland jerseys waving flags throughout.
“I’ve been waiting many years for this and it was an amazing feeling stepping on the ice during the warm-up and in the game. It was worth waiting for this moment.”
THE MIXED ZONE
I promised some behind-the-scenes secrets from here at the Games, so here goes nothing.
This is the first international event I’ve covered so I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but, like a true greenhorn, I assumed it would pretty much be like covering the Canucks.
Nothing could be zanier than trying to get quotes from Roberto Luongo after a playoff win, right?
I was wrong.
The Mixed Zone, no it's not a singles club, is an area is the bowls of Canada Hockey Place where accredited media head after the game, and I mean right after the game, to get quotes. This place is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Imagine a cattle branding station where heifers are moved through a winding labyrinth of metal gates; the players are the cows and the media is after the milk.
There really aren’t any rules to the mixed zone, you get to a spot on the fence and pray the player you’re after hasn’t already walked past because he isn’t coming back.
The high demand players, such as Luongo and Crosby, have name cards and are put in areas accessable to quite a few people and they’re asked to speak into microphones, so if you’re a sloth like me who didn’t get to the front of the line, you don’t leave empty quoted.
Out of the three games yesterday I had two good experiences with this system. Getting Ryan Kesler was a cinch, I just shouted as he went by, and Luongo stepped up to a mic making life easy on everyone.
I ran into trouble in trying to land the big fish, Alex Ovechkin, after the 8-2 Russian win over Latvia. OV, being the patriotic man that he is, would only answer questions in his native tongue before literally speed walking, almost jogging, his way out of the mixed zone.
Ovechkin had two goals in the win so obviously I wasn’t the only English speaking reporter after him, the IOC recognized this and provided the following quote from the Washington Capitals stud: "Overall we had a good game. I think we started well and in the third period we just wanted the puck as much as possible."
Not exactly a Twitter worthy scoop, but it was better than nothing.
I picked up a few tips on the first day so cross your fingers for me that nabbing Salo, a Sedin, Ehrhoff and Demitra will be as easy as it sounds.