The easy part is over

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:01 PM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Coming in from the cold was supposed to be respite. Instead, the Finns were snowed under even worse than if they had battled the blizzard outside the Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Just like all the other opposition who've come up against Team Canada.

Another game for the Maple Leaf brought about yet another thrashing, this time an 8-1 blanketing of the Finns yesterday afternoon.

"I've talked to my other coaches and other staff and this Canadian team seems to be the best we have seen," said Finland assistant coach Petri Matikainen.

Only time will tell, since the standard north of the border is gold but there's no doubt the Canadians provide plenty of poisons for their opposition.

Last night, the most lethal came in the form of Jeff Carter, who tallied three times to pace the Canadians to a fourth-straight win that propels them directly to a semifinal game on Sunday.

"This team is unbelievable," said Carter. "We've got 13 guys that can put the puck in the net. You can't key on one guy because the next one will bury it."

That would be Corey Perry's powerplay tally, his first of two on the night.

Dion Phaneuf's point shot was deflected, hit the end glass and rebounded right to Perry in front of the cage and he promptly batted it out of mid-air into the net.

Before the period ended, Mike Richards added a short-handed tally and the Canadians were off and running.

"That's a big goal," head coach Brent Sutter said. "Score shorthanded and you go in after the first period up two instead of one or possibly, if they capitalize, it's a tie game. That was a boost and got us going."

Shawn Belle and Calgary Hitmen forward Andrew Ladd also tallied for Canada.

The news wasn't all good, though, and not just because Brent Seabrook left the game early due to an upper body injury that Sutter said won't affect the d-man next outing.

Fellow rearguard Cam Barker of the Medicine Hat Tigers didn't play and will miss the remainder of the tournament due to mononucleosis, Hockey Canada said.

The shortage of defencemen came to a head when Phaneuf was in the sin bin for a penalty and Sutter sent Hitmen forward Ryan Getzlaf to man the blueline.

Finland didn't hit the board until late in the third period when Juuso Hietanen's screened shot beat Cochrane goaltender Jeff Glass while the Canadians were trying to kill a five-on-three.

Having outscored their opponents by a combined 32-5 count, the Canadians have hardly been tested yet.

"The score hasn't showed everything," said Getzlaf, who assisted two of Carter's goals. "There have been some battles out there. Coming out of the first period we were only up two. It hasn't been easy out there."

Besides, as Sutter pointed out, the task isn't complete. Canada waits in Sunday's semifinal for the winner of tomorrow's game between Czech Republic and Finland.

"The scores are irrelevant," Sutter said. "The bottom line, I think, is as any coach would like to see, you want your players to maximize their potential that day.

"And when that day's over, you move to the next one."

- - -

CANADA: 8

FINLAND: 1


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