After a closer than expected win over Norway, Canada gets right back at it on Friday when they face the other “weak sister” of the group, who were throttled by Finland 8-4.
CANADA vs AUSTRIA
12:00 noon EST
Here is how the teams match up:
GOALTENDING: After Carey Price had a solid but at times shaky effort against the Norwegians, the door is open for Roberto Luongo to sieze the starting job when he faces the Austrians. Luongo was the winning goalie in Vancouver after taking over the net from Martin Brodeur. Bernhard Starkbaum made 44 saves in being bombarded by 52 Finnish shots. If he plays again against Canada he could end up suffering from shellshock.
DEFENSE: The Canadian blue line was solid against Norway, although they were wide open most of the time as the Norweigans collapsed. They accounted for 2 of Canada’s 3 goals,so they contributed at both ends of the ice. P.K. Subban should draw into the lineup with most likely Dan Hamhuis coming out. The Austrians allowed 52 shots to Finland, who have some NHL talent but not the level of Canada.
FORWARDS: Austria got 4 goals against Tuukka Rask, which was no small feat. The three NHL forwards, Michael Grabner (3 goals), Michael Raffl (2 assists) and Thomas Vanek (1 assist) were the catalysts in the loss, providing most of the offense. Canada’s forwards should continue to improve as they fill into roles the team needs them to play, but they didn’t have an outstanding game in the opener. Look for Matt Duchene to have a big game and potential breakout performance after being scratched in the first game.
The game against Norway was simply a “get your feet wet” game. There were some nerves that had to be settled, and a win is a win, even if it wasn’t as convincing as many would have hoped, expected, or liked.
PREDICTION: This should be the game where Canada makes a statement. Canada 6-1.