Another failure for Team Canada not an option

Canada's John Tavares (left) tussles with Belarus' Andrei Stas during their world hockey...

Canada's John Tavares (left) tussles with Belarus' Andrei Stas during their world hockey championship game in Helsinki on Tuesday, May 15, 2012. (Grigory Dukor/Reuters)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:52 PM ET

HELSINKI - Only at the world hockey championship do you go from seven games to Game 7.

You can win them all in the round robin but if you lose the next one, you fizzled, you flopped, you flat out failed.

Jordan Eberle, who turned 22 here Tuesday, knows what it's all about. Been there. Done that. Did it again. And there's no damn way he wants to do it yet again.

Canada's Mr. Clutch in two world juniors on Canadian ice has been an international hockey hero. But he also knows about losing the quarterfinal at the world championships and coming home a zero.

Eberle did it two years ago against Russia in Germany. And he did it last year against Russia in Slovakia.

Lose the quarterfinal and the whole trip feels like it was a waste. No matter how well you did in the seven games of the round robin, you go home with no glory and saying you're sorry.

"It was a bad blow to have to go through the last two years, a real bitter pill," said Eberle, who along with linemate John Tavares, Evander Kane and Devan Dubnyk were on the team which went home after losing quarterfinal games in each of the last two years, a double disaster which left Canada coming to the Worlds this year ranked No. 5 by the IIHF and needing gold to go into the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, as the No. 1 seed.

Jeff Skinner, Dion Phaneuf, Luke Schenn, Andrew Ladd and Marc Methot were also on last year's team and Corey Perry and Kris Russell were part of the 2009 edition.

Coach Brent Sutter, who has now coached Canada in 28 games internationally without losing a game in regulation, said it's not a bad thing to have half a team which has experienced losing the quarterfinal game in the last two years.

"Motivation and inspiration," he said.

"I talked to all of the players on the phone before we came over here and one thing that was mentioned again and again was how disappointed they were losing the quarterfinal. We're going to try to use any experience they've had in the past to our advantage," he added.

"Our goal was to finish first and we were able to accomplish that. Now our goal is to take the next step and be better. It's a Game 7."

Eberle said he's talked to other players like Edmonton Oilers teammate Ryan Nugent-Hopkins about losing the quarterfinal.

"You leave feeling so empty if you lose that game. Win and you're in the medal round. Lose and that's it. Everything you did to get to the quarterfinal game meant nothing. You leave with nothing. There is no trophy for finishing first in your pool.

"Last year we didn't lose a game until the quarterfinal. We lost one period and we were out of the tournament."

Canada finished off the round robin with a 5-1 win over Belarus here Tuesday to win the Helsinki pool of the world championships.

If nothing else, it meant they wouldn't have to play Russia again in the quarterfinal this year. The Russians have dominated the Stockholm pool with a 7-0 record with Evgeni Malkin tearing the tournament apart with seven goals and seven assists and Alexander Ovechkin and Alex Semin en route from Washington to join them for the medal round.

Finishing first meant Canada, which hasn't won gold at the world championships since 2007, won't have to face Russia until the gold medal game.

"You have to be mentally prepared and you have to bring your best. Your mindset changes now. We have to win the quarterfinals. That's been the back-breaker for us," said Eberle of what he's learned.

"It's not like a playoff series where it's a best of seven. It's a do-or-die situation and you have to be up for it." said the player who is hoping he can come through as Canada's Mr. Clutch when it matters most over here, too.

"It seems like you play a lot of games to be here," said Duncan Keith, who leads Canada with 11 points in this tournament.

"It's good that you do play the seven games because the more games you play the more chemistry you get.

"When you get to the quarterfinal you have to take it to a new level. The next game has to bring the best out in you. That's what it's all about."

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