Room for improvement

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

LEKSAND, Sweden -- The Canadian players did not come right out and say they escaped with a win yesterday in their world junior opener, but some gave the sense they were thinking that way.

As Carey Price was making 31 saves in a shutout, Canada managed to fire just 18 shots at Sweden goalie Joel Gistedt. Part of the issue for Canada was its inability to get much movement through the neutral zone. Overall, the Canadians were glad they won but were not about to file it away on a "best-of" tape.

"We have to come out (today against the United States) ready to play and better than we did (yesterday)," forward Steve Downie said. "You want to get the tough games out of the way, but you have to move on."

Canada handed the puck to Sweden too much for the liking of coach Craig Hartsburg. Price covered up some of the mistakes, but that challenge could be greater against the U.S.

UPSETS

The Americans are bound to be an angry bunch after losing to Germany yesterday, one of two upsets on opening day as Belarus defeated Finland. In that match, Tuukka Rask, traded to the Boston Bruins by the Maple Leafs for Andrew Raycroft, gave up four goals on 17 shots.

"We got away with too many bad turnovers," Hartsburg said. "We got a little too cute with it. Our forwards worked extremely hard to backcheck, but we can make it a little easier on ourselves if we don't give up the puck as much."

Said defenceman Luc Bourdon: "It was not a perfect game and Carey was a big part of it. We can't let him do it on his own."

But if Canada can work out the kinks while beating Sweden, a club that many think can earn a medal, it speaks to their depth and ability to be opportunistic. Still, Hartsburg knows some players will learn as they go. Sam Gagner, the youngest skater in a Canada uniform, had three minor penalties.

"I'm not used to taking penalties, but it is a different game and I have to adjust to it," said Gagner, who has 12 penalty minutes with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.

There's little time for Canada to improve with an arch-rival, the U.S., up next.

"We'll take 15 minutes to enjoy this but we will not look back," Hartsburg said. "It's going to be a dogfight."


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