No satisfaction

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

LEKSAND, Sweden -- First place in Group A is a lock and a bye to a semifinal on Wednesday at the 2007 world junior championship is in the books.

But satisfaction has not yet been guaranteed for Canada, which is 3-0 after beating Germany 3-1 in an immensely dry game yesterday at Ejendals Arena.

"We're not playing that good right now," said captain Kris Letang, who began the season with the Pittsburgh Penguins before being sent back to junior.

'TOO MANY TURNOVERS'

"We are doing some good things, but we are doing some bad things. I am happy we are first in our side and have a bye for the semis, but we have to be better. There are still too many turnovers and we have to play 60 minutes."

Canada outshot Germany 34-19 before an announced crowd of 1,284 - most of which was clad in Canada sweaters and yelling their hearts out - but got the kind of game it figured it would get.

On paper, there is little comparison between the clubs. The Germans have just four drafted players and only three players are developing in North America. But Germany, which is 0-9 against Canada since unification in 1989, spent most of the game doing little to try to score and lined up four players across the blue-line. It's not an approach Canada usually sees at this level, but it speaks to the difference in talent.

"I expected it to be tight, but I thought we were able to open it up at times," said forward and Edmonton Oilers prospect Andrew Cogliano. "We can't let up at all. That's something we have to work on."

Canada got a pair of goals from defenceman Kris Russell while Steve Downie scored his second goal of the tournament.

IMPROVEMENT REQUIRED

Felix Schutz, who was recently traded to Val d'Or from Saint John in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and will be a teammate of Canadians Brad Marchand and Letang after the world junior, scored for Germany.

As much as Germany crawled into a defensive shell, the Canadians are right - they can improve. This is Germany, for goodness' sake, not Russia or Finland. Only twice in their previous nine meetings with Germany did Canada not win by more than two goals. But the game was tied 1-1 briefly in the second period before Downie put a Letang rebound behind goalie Timo Pielmeier.

Coach Craig Hartsburg kept the players in the dressing room afterward to remind them nothing has been accomplished. There's an underlying sense around the Canadian team, which will play for a medal of some colour, that it has not come close to settling into a groove.

"We need to build," Hartsburg said.

"A lot of that game we passed the test, but at times in the offensive zone, there were some decisions that cost us and we had to chase (the Germans) back to our end. We have to be more poised and patient.

"As a coach you want 60 perfect minutes."


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