Coaching in two playoff series' over the last three springs against the Anaheim Ducks
gave Mike Babcock a good idea of what to expect from Ryan Getzlaf
and Corey Perry
When the Ducks' duo wasn't delivering on that promise earlier in these Olympics, Canada's coach emphatically delivered a message to them.
"I just said to both of them that we've had some wars with Anaheim over the last three years and every night we played them, those guys came to play and they were big-time warriors," Babcock said. "I expect the same here."
He got that kind of performance Wednesday night in Canada's 7-3 win over Russia.
Perry scored twice and Getzlaf had a goal and a pair of assists. Brenden Morrow
was added as the left wing on their line, and he also scored a goal. The trio combined for six points, a plus-6 rating and 10 shots on goal. They were every bit as effective as Babcock had hoped they would be for every game in the tournament.
"He talked to us a little bit and wanted more of us, and we knew we had more to give," Perry said. "We knew we had to come out and have a big game to put confidence back in him that we belong here and we can play at this level. I think we did that and hopefully we continue to do that."
Babcock's main message to Perry and Getzlaf was simple: Move your feet and use your size to create space and scoring chances.
He didn't think they did that enough in the first four games, when Perry and Getzlaf scored just once each. They were quick and powerful Wednesday.
Getzlaf scored Canada's first goal by driving to the net before finishing off a nice feed from Dan Boyle
, who made a great end-to-end rush. Morrow did what he does best, grind behind the net, to help himself to a goal late in the first period.
Perry and Getzlaf combined for a shot, rebound and then early in the second, and Perry finished off a 3-on-2 with Eric Staal
and Getzlaf at the halfway point of the game to give Canada a 7-2 lead.
"They were really good," Team Canada Executive Director Steve Yzerman
told NHL.com. "They are big, strong guys with skill. Brenden going in there on the line, he's a straight up and down guy who is hard in the corners, hard on the wall and forechecks well. It worked for a game -- they played well."
It's interesting that Yzerman said "it worked for a game." That makes you think Babcock is going to switch things up for Friday's showdown against Slovakia.
It wouldn't be out of character, considering he's made line changes before and during every game -- save for Wednesday's against Russia, when there was no need to alter anything.
However, Babcock hinted Thursday that the lines will stay intact, mainly because Getzlaf, Perry and Morrow played well together and the line of Jonathan Toews
, Mike Richards
and Rick Nash
was arguably Canada's best against the Russians.
The other lines held true from the Germany game on Tuesday: Sidney Crosby
with Jarome Iginla
and Eric Staal
, and Joe Thornton
with San Jose teammates Dany Heatley
and Patrick Marleau
. Patrice Bergeron
was the 13th forward and one of Canada's lead penalty-killers.
"I told the coaches that I looked at my book and on Nov. 17 those were my lines," Babcock said. "We finally got back to that. It's just one of those things we didn't think it was the right combination to start Game 1. We went to that against Germany in the third period. We felt that the Toews, Richards and Nash line was very effective for us, had the most scoring chances for our team."
Perry, Getzlaf and Morrow were finally a close second.
"We hadn't played the way we wanted to and we knew we had to play a big game," Perry said. "It was our biggest game yet and they're just going to get bigger. Anybody can step up and it just happened to be a couple of guys on our line that did."
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org