Tomas Plekanec and P.K. Subban were the only two of the Montreal Canadiens seven Olympians in action today. Max Pacioretty, Alexei Emelin, Andrei Markov and Peter Budaj had the day off, and so did Carey Price who was made a scratch for Canada.
Tomas Plekanec and the Czech Republic improved their record to 1-1-0 when they defeated Latvia in the early hours of the morning. The Czech’s opened the tournament with a 4-2 loss to Sweden, but were able to reverse their fortunes today, winning by the same 4-2 score.
Plekanec led all forwards in ice time with 20:11 and chipped in a power play assist on Jaromir Jagr’s goal that gave the Czech Republic a 2-1 lead late in the first period. Latvia tied the game early in the second period, but Jakub Voracek tipped in the game winner seven minutes into the second. Marek Zidlicky added the insurance, with just over two minutes to go in the second, and Ondrej Pavelec shut the door from there.
The Czech’s finish off their preliminary round schedule when they face a tough Switzerland team tomorrow. The Swiss have the same 1-1-0 record, and have allowed just one goal in their first two games of this tournament. Their problem is, they have only scored one goal as well.
The Czech Republic could still finish anywhere from first to third in Group C. If they lose to Switzerland they drop to third, behind Sweden and the Swiss. However, if they win, and somehow Latvia knocks off Sweden tomorrow, then the Czech’s jump to the top of their group.
Team Canada found their offensive power in their second game of the Olympics, and walked all over Austria in a 6-0 victory. A pair of Team Canada’s right defensemen opened the scoring in the first period, but P.K. Subban was held off the scoresheet. It was Drew Doughty and Shea Weber who combined to give Canada a 2-0 lead after the first.
Jeff Carter took over in the second and put the game on ice with a natural hat trick. Ryan Getzlaf finished off the scoring barrage late in the second period to put the Canadians ahead by a half dozen. Roberto Luongo held on to his shutout, stopping all 23 shots he faced.
Subban played 11:41 in his Olympic debut, the least of Canada’s seven defensemen. He and Alex Pietrangelo were the only Canadians without a shot on goal, but Subban did make several nice plays. He jumped into the rush to create offense and kept plays alive at the blue line on several occasions. Subban also used his speed to get back and break up the rare Austrian chance when it occurred.
Team Canada Head Coach Mike Babcock did not have much to say when asked about Subban’s performance, only noting that Subban was fine. Babcock also said that Dan Hamhuis will return to the lineup against Finland, but it remains to be seen if it will be Subban who is scratched.
Canada will now face Finland on Sunday, with the winner taking first in Group B and a bye to the Quarterfinal. If the game is close it remains possible that the loser finishes fourth in the preliminary standings and also receives a bye to the Quarters.