uff thinks his Canadian team might have too much of a good thing at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.
The coach has had plenty of things to be happy about while watching his team steamroll the competition here, but he also has one concern. The arrival of defencemen Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Braydon Coburn for Sunday’s 5-1 victory over Norway leaves him with eight defencemen and he thinks it might be too much to handle.
“I’ll just be honest – it’s awful,” said Ruff. “You can’t play eight defencemen, you can’t. Your top guys don’t get enough rhythm.
“If you’re going to be effective, you want to play your top guys the most. It’s going to give you the best chance of being the most consistent through the night.”
The bench was shortened slightly when Ian White left after the first period because he was feeling ill. Luke Schenn was the other odd man out – he played just 7:48, more than half of it in the third period when the game was out of reach.
Ruff warned the players beforehand that some of them would see less time on the ice.
“If you’re going to be a competitive team, you’ve got to play your best players the most,” he said. “You want to win, you’ve got to play them the most.
Canada has outscored its opponents by a combined score of 32-6 and has yet to trail at any point of the tournament. The first strong challenge could come Monday when Canada wraps up the qualification round with a game against Finland.
After that, it will travel to Bern for the medal round and a must-win quarter-final game.
Defenceman Drew Doughty was named Canada’s player of the game against Norway after scoring a goal and two assists. He didn’t find the extra bodies on the bench to be a distraction.
“We have so many good players here you can pretty much throw out any guy on the team in any situation and they’re going to do the job,” said Doughty.
Matthew Lombardi, Dan Hamhuis, Steven Stamkos and Jason Spezza also had goals for Canada (5-0). Mats Zuccarello Aasen replied for Norway (1-3-1).
In Sunday’s other action, Russia hammered Latvia 6-1, the Czech Republic shut out Belarus 3-0, Sweden beat Switzerland 4-1 and Denmak defeated Hungary 5-1.
The Canadians are expecting their toughest test yet against the Finns on Monday night.
“They do good things with the puck on the big ice,” said Ruff. “You don’t want to be chasing it all night and they can handle it good enough to get you in that mode where you start chasing.”
The Norwegians lost 2-1 to Canada at last year’s world championship and briefly looked as though they might be able to keep this one close. Lombardi opened the scoring by splitting the defence and slipping the puck between Andre Lysenstoen’s legs, but Zuccarello Aasen soon tied it with a power-play goal for Norway.
He beat Chris Mason at 12:53 of the first period by banking the puck off the Canadian goalie from behind the net.
A pair of goals just under a minute apart put Canada ahead for good. The smooth-skating Hamhuis made a couple nice moves before beating Lysenstoen with a well-placed wrist shot at 17:08, and Stamkos got his tournament-leading sixth goal with a nice one-timer at 18:03.
The Canadians really turned it on in the second period and chased Lysenstoen – the fourth time in five games they’ve forced their opponent to switch goalies. Ruff was satisfied with the team’s performance overall.
“We wanted to keep it simple, we wanted to be smart, we didn’t want anyone to take penalties the way we have in the past and I think we did all that,” he said.
The team’s power play had been converting at a rate of 50 per cent through four games, but cooled off against the Norwegians. Canada went just 1-for-8, although it scored twice during delayed penalty calls.
There was no cause for concern.
“Are we going to score four, five power-play goals a game?” forward Martin St. Louis said dryly.
It’s been a charmed run for Canada at the world championship.
The team has won 22 of its last 23 games at this event – the lone loss was in the gold-medal game last May – and is showing no signs of slowing down.
“We just keep winning,” said captain Shane Doan. “In the end, hopefully we win them all.”
Russia 6, Latvia 1
At Bern, Anton Kuryanov and Oleg Tverdovsky each scored twice while Alexander Eremenko made 25 saves for Russia.
Alexander Frolov and Alexei Tereschenko also scored for Russia. Herberts Vasiljevs replied for Latvia while Edgars Masalskis stopped 31 shots.
Czech Republic 3, Belraus 0
At Kloten, Petr Cajanek scored twice and Jakub Stepanek made 18 saves to lead the Czech Republic.
Patrik Elias also scored for the Czechs, while Vitali Koval made 30 saves for Belarus.
Sweden 4 Switzerland 1
At Bern, Linus Omark scored one goal and set up another to help Sweden past host Switzerland.
Johnny Oduya, Johan Harju and Johan Andersson also scored for the Swedes while Romano Lemm replied with 3:16 left for Switzerland.
Denmark 5 Hungary 1
At Kloten, Morten Green had a goal and three assists as Denmark registered a comfortable win over Hungary.
Kim Staal, Mads Christensen, Morten Madsen and Nichlas Hardt also scored for the Danes. Krisztian Palkovics replied for Hungary.