Canada, Kassian Steamroll Czech Republic 7-2
After Canada took control of the Russians in the third period of their first game, few anticipated they would have much trouble handling either the Czechs or Norwegians in advance of their New Year's Eve match up against the Swedes.
The Czechs scored the first goal, and matched the Canadians for the first five minutes. After that, the Canadians just took over. Brayden Schenn was Canada's offensive catalyst all afternoon, scoring one goal and assisting on four more which gave him points on all of the first five Canadian goals.
The Canadian powerplay was instrumental in rolling over the Czechs but the Canadian penalty kill also contributed offensively at the end of the second period when Brayden Schenn fed a backhand saucer pass to Louis Leblanc who slid a goal past Czech netminder Filip Novotny.
The focal point of the second period, and likely of the days to follow, will be Zack Kassian's hit halfway through the second period. Czech defender Petr Senkerik was leading the breakout through the neutral zone. After advancing the puck, Senkerik was rather unceremoniously hit by Canada's Zack Kassian who was cutting laterally through the neutral zone. Kassian buried his shoulder into Senkerik's chest, but given the nature of IIHF rules governing contact, the supposition of contact with an area north of the player's collarbone made Kassian's hit an infraction that cost him five and a game.
Sadly, Kassian's hit will take away from what was a very strong performance by the Canadian side. Canada's powerplay was clicking at an almost deadly rate of efficiency. The penalty kill was effective taking away time and space and Canada's big players did exactly what they'll need to do to make Canada effective in this tournament; assert themselves in traffic and along the wall.
Brayden Schenn was Canada's best forward, Ryan Ellis was its best defender while both Dylan Olsen and Olivier Roy had strong recovery games after lacklustre performances in the opening contest against the Russians.
Canada plays Norway tomorrow.