Canada vs. Austria: Five things to watch for in Sochi

Team Canada's captain Sidney Crosby is checked in front of the net by Team Norway's Henrik Odegaard...

Team Canada's captain Sidney Crosby is checked in front of the net by Team Norway's Henrik Odegaard as goalie Lars Haugen looks on during the third period period action during their men's ice hockey at the Bolshoy Ice Dome during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, on Thursday Feb. 13, 2014. (Ben Pelosse/QMI Agency)

Rob Longley, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 6:38 AM ET

FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Play some D

While the Austrians will be nobody’s threat to win, they do have some offensive firepower as evidenced by the four goals they pumped past Finnish goaltender Tuukka Rask in an 8-4 loss on Thursday. Included in the Austrian goal rush was a hat trick from New York Islanders forward Michael Grabner.

2. Crowded Crease

Carey Price got the call for Game 1 and was solid enough, allowing just one goal. Today, it’s Roberto Luongo’s turn. While neither goalkeeper was expected to face a serious challenge in either game, it’s the first impression that may count with coach Mike Babcock.

3. Run it Up

Blowout potential certainly exists for a second consecutive day as Canada faces one of the true Olympic hockey lightweights. The Austrians haven’t finished better than 12th since NHL players started participating and little is expected of them this time. Historical note: Canada handed Austria the worst defeat of the modern era in Olympic hockey with a 23-0 win in 1956.

4. Lineup Changes

Babcock made it clear after Thursday’s game that there will be some lineup tinkering for the second effort against Austria. For starters, Luongo will get the call in net and Mike Smith will be his backup. Also expect defenceman P.K. Subban to draw back in and Dan Hamhuis to sit.

5. Build Momentum

To the players we spoke with following Thursday’s win, none seemed bothered that it wasn’t a blowout. Most were encouraged by a dominating second period and strong third. The challenge now is to build upon that success against Austria on Friday.

Austrian to Watch

New York Islanders star Michael Grabner made a smashing Olympic debut, scoring a hat trick in Austria’s 8-4 loss to Finland.

Key Matchup

Thomas Vanek vs. Shea Weber

Austria’s most talented offensive player will have to face the shut-down Canada defence, including the hard-nosed Weber.


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