Canada pours it on

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

INNSBRUCK -- The best that can be said of Team Canada's games against opponents of Slovenia's calibre is that they might help build some confidence.

But the outcome is always such a sure thing -- this one finished 8-0 -- that the players can get into bad habits, secure in the knowledge that mistakes will go unpunished.

Three of the next four games are against the United States, Finland and Sweden and in those games, mistakes could prove to be very costly indeed.

"Actually, we were pretty happy with how guys were handling themselves," Team Canada coach Marc Habscheid said. "Their shifts were where they should be, their line changes were good -- it's a difficult game to play but they did well. I thought a lot of their habits were good ones, they didn't try a lot of hope passes or things that we didn't want to see."

It didn't take the Canadians long to get rolling yesterday. Less than a minute into the proceedings, Joe Thornton found the puck on his stick and open ice in front of him. It was a clean breakaway from the red line in.

Slovenian goaltender Gaber Glavic made the initial save, but his teammates were slow coming back and after a few more whacks, Thornton put it into the net.

The time at which the Slovenians found the game to be out of reach was 1:03 of the first period. It was simply a matter of the Canadians having far too much firepower.

Thornton popped his second of the game at 5:07 when the Canadians capitalized on a turnover in the Slovenian end. Eight minutes later, Brendan Morrison finished off a pretty passing play.

By that stage, the Canadians, who never really had been going full out, were trying to take it easy on Slovenia. They had stopped hitting and instead, were settling for pokechecks.

Even the Slovenians can apply pressure when that happens, and as a result, Roberto Luongo had to make a couple of good saves against Marcel Rodman and Anze Kopitar, his only serious tests of the period.

In the second, it was Kirk Maltby and Simon Gagne who did the scoring. Maltby was set up by Kris Draper who intercepted an atrocious pass in front of the Slovenian net.

Gagne's would have been a goal in any league. On the power play, Wade Redden took a shot from the point and Gagne redirected it.

In the third period, Nash, Morrison and Ryan Smyth rounded out the scoring.

Draper summed up the afternoon's proceedings. "It's just part of the process," he said. "We were told goal differential comes into play, so we kept going right to the end."

"It wasn't about us trying to run up the score or anything like that. We were just doing things to make our team better."


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