SLAM!Sports
February 16, 2006
First test passed by Canadians
Defending champs work on chemistry
By BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

TURIN -- Team Canada is taking a chemistry lesson.

It started with a 7-2 victory over Italy in the opener of the Olympics yesterday. The next session will come tonight against Germany.

Canadian coach Pat Quinn, who has "never had a bad (win)," wasn't complaining after the club's pounding of the Olympic hosts, but he wants to see improvement.

"I might change a couple of lines, but for the most part I liked a couple of our units," said Quinn. "We still have some timing issues. You get on the big ice and you tend to want to go to areas outside and that's a good place to go cause you are going to be free.

"We need to come to the puck and we were going away from it all the time. In my experience -- and I learned this in 2002 (at the Salt Lake City Games) -- you get on the big ice and you think we'll just stretch this out and play all over the place. We weren't playing like five guys. We were playing like a bunch of individuals.

"We need to learn from this and we've got guys who need to learn about playing together."

Jarome Iginla had two goals and Joe Sakic added two assists for Canada, but it's speculated that winger Kris Draper will be moved off their line into a role where he can be more effective.

One of the best units for Canada was Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis with Senators winger Dany Heatley on the left side. The trio combined for six points including two goals, one from Heatley.

"The biggest thing for us right now is chemistry," said winger Ryan Smyth of the Oilers.

"We're trying to get in sync with everybody. You play on your own teams at home and you get in your own routines. Now everybody is buying into a system and that's what it is all about. Team atmosphere with different roles and different situations."

18 SAVES

Goaltender Martin Brodeur, who is the man charged with leading this club to a gold medal, made 18 saves against the Italians. But he didn't try to fool anybody into thinking the victory was a major step.

"We've got to play these games, but there's a lot of lows to playing these games, rather than highs," the veteran Devils netminder said. "You don't want guys getting injured and you want to make sure you're in good shape for the medal round.

"There wasn't much in that game. We didn't get a lot of pressure, but we've got to start learning to play with each other. These are steps and this is a good first step. We scored seven goals and what we have to do is make sure that we build on that."

Canada wasn't able to do that at Salt Lake City when it started with a 5-2 loss to Sweden. This time around, Canada has a chance to build towards its toughest preliminary-round game, Monday against the powerful Czechs.

"We've just got to keep building," said Sakic. "We've got a good group of guys and we like our team, but everything is going to depend on the (ending)."

Roberto Luongo will be in net tonight while Brodeur will return to action tomorrow vs. Switzerland.


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