Lifted by a suffocating defensive performance and timely scoring, Canada defeated Sweden 3-0 at the Bolshoy Ice Dome on Sunday night to capture its second consecutive Olympic gold medal. Since the participation of NHL players in the Olympics began in 1998, Canada’s three gold medals in the men’s tournament are two more than the gold medals won by the Czech Republic and Sweden, the only other teams to have won the Olympic tournament in the last 16 years.
Though the Kings sent a contingent of six players, one equipment manager and one organist to the Olympics, Los Angeles’ Team Canada participants distinguished themselves sharply in the tournament. Drew Doughty led Canada in goals and trailed only Sweden’s Erik Karlsson in overall defensive scoring, and was voted by the media as an Olympic All-Star by virtue of his four-goal, six-point performance, which also included a plus-4 rating in six games. Doughty’s six points tied him for fifth overall in tournament scoring; he scored both of Canada’s goals, including the overtime game-winner, in a 2-1 win over Finland in the final game of the preliminary round.
Jeff Carter sprung to life with a hat trick in only 8:46 of ice time during a 6-0 rout of Austria on February 14 and finished with three goals, five points, and tied for a team-best plus-six rating.
Head Equipment Manager Darren Granger, who had represented Canada at four previous World Championships as well as the World Cup and World Junior Championships, will also bring home a gold medal following his first Olympic experience as an equipment manager with Canada.
Doughty, who turned 24 in December, has now claimed two Olympic gold medals and a Stanley Cup in his young career. A Norris Trophy candidate at the National Hockey League level, it will be interesting to see if the perception towards his offensively laced complete package offered at both the club and international level will evolve following his thorough performance in Sochi. Though Canada’s impenetrable blue line also included Alex Pietrangelo, Duncan Keith, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Dan Hamhuis, it was Doughty – and Nashville’s Shea Weber – that clearly stood out amongst a collection of defenders that represented the team’s backbone and most significant advantage over its competition.
There was no fluke, shifting of luck or officiating mistakes that lifted Canada to gold; this was a defensive domination of the highest degree. The only players to score on Carey Price (two shutouts) and Roberto Luongo (one shutout) were Norway’s Patrick Thoresen, Finland’s Tuomo Ruutu, and Latvia’s Lauris Dauzins. One power play goal was scored against Canada in 16 opportunities. In six games, Price and Luongo stopped 126-of-129 shots.
Though Erik Karlsson led all defensemen in scoring and was named the best defenseman by the tournament directorate, make no mistake – Doughty was the most thorough and impactful blue liner playing on the game’s highest stage. If an abstract intangible such as “capital” could be measured, it was Doughty, more than any other defenseman in the tournament, who would have seen his stock solidify and grow the most.
Individual Awards as selected by the tournament directorate
Best Goalkeeper: Carey Price, Canada
Best Defenseman: Erik Karlsson, Sweden
Best Forward: Phil Kessel, USA
Most Valuable Player as selected by the media
Teemu Selanne, Finland
All-Star Team as selected by the media
Goalkeeper: Henrik Lundqvist, Sweden
Defenseman: Erik Karlsson, Sweden
Defenseman: Drew Doughty, Canada
Forward: Teemu Selanne, Finland
Forward: Phil Kessel, USA
Forward: Mikael Granlund, Finland
Gold – Canada
Silver – Sweden
Bronze – Finland
4 – United States
5 – Russia
6 – Czech Republic
7 – Slovenia
8 – Latvia
9 – Switzerland
10 – Austria
11 – Slovakia
12 – Norway