Lessons from Canada's OT win


SOCHI, Russia -- Canada rolled undefeated to the top of its Olympic grouping with a 2-1 overtime win over Finland on Sunday, but that doesn't mean the questions will stop for a Canadian team that continues to be superb defensively but more than a little out of sync offensively.

Indeed, in spite of this win, you know there's a veritable national referendum brewing north of the 49th parallel on what to do with Chris Kunitz, who should play with Sidney Crosby and whether P.K. Subban deserves another chance.

Here's a look at the final game of the preliminary round.

How big was this win?
OK, hold out one hand. It represents Russia. Hold out the other. It represents Switzerland/Latvia. By dropping this game, the Finns dropped down to the fourth seed, and while they earned a bye to the quarterfinals with two wins and an overtime loss, they will now play the winner of the Russia-Norway qualifier. With all due respect to Norway, the Finns are staring at a likely quarterfinal date with the hosts, and that's a tall order to consider. Canada, on the other hand, after its win Sunday, will face the winner of Switzerland-Latvia. The Swiss will be heavy favorites against Latvia, but either way, that has to be an easier route to a medal game than playing the Russians. Now, you have to beat good teams to win a gold medal, that's a fact. And Canada faced Russia in the quarterfinals four years ago in Vancouver after having to play a qualification game against Germany that it believed was important to its evolution in that tournament. But without that extra game this time around and given the uncertainty with where the Canadians are offensively, having a lesser opponent to deal with in the quarterfinals will, in theory, give Canada that extra breathing room to get into some sort of rhythm in terms of getting its star-laden lineup to start scoring like stars. One thing is for sure: We won't get a U.S.-Canada gold-medal final this time, but they could meet in the semifinals. And we could get gold-medal final between Russia and either the U.S. or Canada. 

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