More goals the goal

PAUL FRIESEN

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

PARDUBICE, Czech Republic -- It's hard to satisfy a hoser.

Here's Team Canada, sitting atop its pool with a 2-0 mark, back-to-back shutouts under its belt, and it seems nobody's satisfied with the early returns at the World Junior Hockey Championship.

Never mind head coach Craig Hartsburg -- coaches are never satisfied.

The general feeling emanating from yesterday's practice, with today's game against unbeaten Sweden looming (TSN, 1 p.m. CST), is how many things the Canadians have to do better.

Now's the time to do them, because this is the game that'll likely determine first place in their pool and the first-round playoff bye that comes with it.

"It's going to come down to us and them, who's going to clinch the division," forward Brad Marchand said. "We don't want to play that extra game."

It's a major advantage to finish first.

Teams that don't would have to play next Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday if they hope to win the gold medal.

Getting the bye would remove the Wednesday quarter-final from the itinerary.

"It's huge," Shawn Matthias said. "We want to earn that bye into the semifinals. This is another step towards that. There's still another game after that, but this is the biggest game of our life. Just like the last two were."

Getting more production from vets like Matthias and Marchand wouldn't hurt.

So far, four of Canada's five goals have come from the "kids" -- 17-year-old John Tavares and Kyle Turris, who's 18.

Time for the "old guys" to start chipping in.

"We haven't done too much on the scoresheet, yet," Marchand said. "Maybe we're saving it for later in the tournament."

CREATE CHANCES

Not that the 19-year-olds haven't contributed. Matthias has been part of a dynamite penalty-killing unit, for example.

But Hartsburg's main concern has been the lack of firepower on offence, including the power play.

"We need a little bit from everybody," Hartsburg said. "Whether they score or not, it just creates some chances and momentum for us. There are some guys who haven't scored that we think will eventually, but we need to pick up that tenacity."

The Canadians were busy building the Swedes up as a serious gold medal threat. Nothing like a game against the three-time defending champs to see if that rings true.

Canada probably can't expect to keep pitching shutouts, which is where an extra goal or two from all those first and second-round draft picks would come in handy.

"It would be nice," Matthias said. "It's on the back of everyone's mind, that you wouldn't mind scoring a goal as a Team Canada player."

Of course, for most countries winning would keep everyone happy, period.

Just not for Canada.

"Maybe if we won every single game, 10-0," captain Karl Alzner said.

He smiled.

But we're not sure if he was joking.


Videos

Photos