It's time to beat up on the little guy!

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

INNSBRUCK, Austria -- It's a game you can't win, even if you win big.

Who really wants to put the boots to a team like Slovenia? Canada, that's who.

It's not that they really want to be the ugly Canadians and embarrass the ultimate underdog at the IIHF World Hockey Championships.

But Canada wants to win big against Slovenia, the lowest-seeded team in the IIHF World Hockey Championships, a team which miraculously made it here for the third time in four years, despite having 103 officially registered senior hockey players.

"You want to create that goal differential, that's for sure," said Canadian coach Marc Habscheid.

"Goal differential down the line could come into play."

With the USA outscoring the Slovenians 7-0, there's a need for Canada to run up the score on Slovenia for points for-against purposes.

"The first thing is to win the game. But there's also a need to stay on the gas pedal," said Habscheid.

"Is goals for-against important? Yes."

In the event of a tie with the Americans Thursday, you want to have the edge in the group to advance as the first-place seed from the group.

Beat the Americans and the score in this one is irrelevant, as Slovenia will drop off to the relegation round and all evidence of the game will evaporate in the standings, with Canada taking a 2-0 record forward to games against Sweden, Finland and the other survivor of their Innsbruck-based group.

"You have to do what you have to do. But it's difficult," said Habscheid.

"I remember the World Junior when I was an assistant. We played France and they were our opener and goals for and against we're important, and you couldn't take the pedal off. You feel bad but you want to win the game and to do the best you can because of the way these tournaments work."

Which means Rick Nash, who had a hatrick in the opener against Latvia, and Joe Thornton, who also scored, will be attempting to pad their tournament-scoring leadership stats. Nash has four points and Thornton three.

"You never want to bury a team but when there's a goals for-against, you can't let up," said Thornton.


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