No question they got some breaks too. Nicklas Backstrom's ban from the gold-medal game was a huge blow for the Swedes, who were already without Henrik Zetterberg, Henrik Sedin and Johan Franzen. But let's be honest: Sunday's game was a total crush job. Utter domination. While you feel bad for the Swedes and especially Backstrom, his presence in the lineup in the gold-medal game does not change the outcome.
"We were dominant," said Team Canada coach Mike Babcock. It started in August with players in running shoes playing ball hockey. "[Getzlaf] said before going out for the third period, 'It's all about the ball hockey, guys. It's all about the ball hockey,'" he added, chuckling.
And what of said coach? Make it two Olympic gold medals, a world junior championship and a men's world title to go along with a Stanley Cup for the Detroit Red Wings coach.
Half the battle in these tournaments is getting the players to buy in. Babcock and his all-star cast of Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins, Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues, Lindy Ruff of the Dallas Stars and former Edmonton Oilers coach Ralph Krueger found a way to sell NHL offensive stars to play an unselfish, defensive game that sucked the life out of the opposition.
"I think he instills a lot of confidence in the group," Crosby said of Babcock. "He leads by example and I think you can see that he trusts every guy out there, and the situations he puts them in, he puts them in for a reason. Definitely to have a group come together this quick isn't easy, and everyone's kind of laughing at the ball hockey in August, but you know what, all those little things go a long way sometimes. He definitely did a great job, his whole staff, of preparing us and getting us ready for all the adjustments we needed to make on the big ice."
That buy-in, however, happens only if the leaders show the way. Crosby and Toews were sensational in that vein, sacrificing offensive stats to focus on their two-way games and keeping their best for last, both scoring Sunday in the biggest game of all.
"They're leaders for a reason," said Carter. "Jonny and Sid, they brought it every night. When you've got your top guys going like that, it's pretty easy for us to follow."
It's simple, said Toews.
"Guys want to win," said the Chicago Blackhawks captain. "I think that's the bottom line. For people to be talking about our team and saying we don't score goals, we're not doing this, we're not doing that, you look at the offense we have, especially up front, our forwards weren't scoring goals, but we could easily go out there and start cheating and trying to make plays and making mistakes and opening ourselves up to give up scoring chances. Guys didn't panic, guys didn't get away from what they were doing. We stayed committed to playing the team game, and we knew that was what it was going to take to win a gold medal. So here we are, standing here with the gold around our necks, and it feels great."
Babcock, perhaps, said it best in his final comment before racing to catch the closing ceremony: "Does anybody know who won the scoring race? Does anybody care? Does anyone know who won the gold medal? See you, guys."
And with that, the Canadian coach got the last word after spending two weeks defending why his team wasn't scoring.