It had been eight years since Canada claimed gold at the IIHF World Hockey Championships and five years since they made it beyond the quarterfinal round, but this year, Team Canada flexed their muscle and showed their dominance, rolling to a 6-1 win over Russia in the gold medal game to cap an amazing run in Prague.
The Canadian squad went a perfect 10-0 en route to bringing back gold, but they’re dominance extends well beyond their unblemished record. This team put a shellacking on the rest of the world over the last couple weeks in the Czech Republic, posting a +51 goal differential (66 for, only 15 against) with 18 player bulging the twine, eight scoring six times or more and 8 registering a point-per-game or better for the tournament.
Canadians Jason Spezza, Jordan Eberle and Matt Duchense finished first, second and third in scoring for the competition, Sidney Crosby led by example as a captain should always do and goaltender Mike Smith posted a 1.50 GAA and .921 save percentage in claiming eight of the team’s 10 victories.
This was as complete an effort as a Canadian side has delivered in this competition in years and one of the best showings from a group wearing the maple leaf on their chest outside of the Olympics in a number of years.
Former San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan, who parted ways with the club at the end of the season, upped his stock by being the lead man behind the bench for this group and Peter DeBoer, ex of the New Jersey Devils, probably improved his chances of securing another opportunity in the NHL by being one of his lead assistants.
The World Hockey Championship is a tournament to track in terms of its importance because the composition of many of the top teams is tethered to the NHL Playoffs.
The core of most teams usually consists of players whose teams failed to register for the NHL’s second season or guys that got bounced from the Playoffs with quickness, and there are many times when players simply opt out of representing their country because the grind of the NHL year has worn them out. As such – and not to diminish the tournament – it’s not always a perfect representation of which nation is truly the best in the world on the ice. More often than not, it’s a matter of who can cobble together the best team in that moment and this year, Canada stood head and shoulders above the pack.
Winning gold at the World Championship put Sidney Crosby into rarified company, as the Pittsburgh Penguins captain became just the eighth Canadian and 26th player to join the Triple Gold Club, a group comprised of players to win the Stanley Cup and gold medals at both the Worlds and the Olympics.