It looked like the 2016 World Cup of Hockey was set to go the distance until Patrice Bergeron pulled Canada even before Brad Marchand effectively secured a Team Canada victory with a shorthanded goal.
Team Canada captured its second World Cup with a 2-1 win over Team Europe in a sloppy Game 2 of the best-of-three final.
So as we prepare for the puck to drop on the NHL’s regular season, here’s a look back at what we learned beyond the preliminary round at the World Cup of Hockey.
Price is right
Questions around Carey Price‘s health dominated Team Canada training camp and pre-tournament play. Price put any concerns for his well-being to rest with his stellar play throughout the tournament.
Without Price we’re probably looking at a Game 3. He made 32 saves to help Canada to the win.
Price improved his Team Canada record to 16-0-0. There’s not a lot of hardware left for him to add to his trophy cabinet. Well, there’s that one big silver Cup left to win…
Crosby at the top of his game
One word you could use to describe Sidney Crosby‘s play in the World Cup is dominant. Team Canada’s captain book-ended his summer with a Stanley Cup championship with the Pittsburgh Penguins and his first ever World Cup.
Crosby led all World Cup skaters in scoring with three goals and seven assists for 10 points in six games to earn most valuable player honours for the tournament.
The 29-year-old has erased any doubt as to whether he’s the best hockey player on the planet over the course of the last year. As Team Canada head coach Mike Babcock noted, there’s so much more than scoring to Crosby’s game.
Marchand had himself a good week
Brad Marchand kicked off his week with a new eight-year, $49-million contract extension and capped it with the World Cup winner.
With the game tied 1-1 in the final minute, Canada was shorthanded because of a Drew Doughty high-sticking penalty. With Europe initially pressing, Canada found a way to break free and Marchand buried the goal off a nifty pass from Jonathan Toews.
Marchand’s first run with Canada in a best-on-best format was a smashing success. The Halifax, Nova Scotia, native led the tournament in goal scoring with five.
Krueger can coach
Ralph Krueger’s first run as an NHL head coach lasted just 48 games with the Edmonton Oilers in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. After guiding Team Europe to a surprising run to the World Cup final, Krueger has positioned himself into consideration for another shot behind an NHL bench.
Team Europe featured players from eight different countries and carried the oldest roster in the field. No one expected them to compete with the traditional international hockey powerhouses, but Krueger had different plans.
Krueger promised to make it difficult for Canada to win the World Cup and his squad delivered, controlling play for long stretches in Game 2 as Canada struggled to get anything going and coughed the puck up under pressure on several occasions.
Krueger is currently chairman of Premier League soccer club Southampton. He flexed his hockey smarts on the big stage and it’s likely his name will come when the NHL’s coaching hot seat heats up in a month or two.
“You should never say never about anything in life,” Krueger said Monday. “Circumstances change, but I definitely did not take this job hunting for a job.”
Give it up for the NHL and NHLPA. They tried something different and it worked. The introduction of Team North America and Team Europe may have rubbed a lot of traditionalists the wrong way, but there’s no denying the impact those two teams had on the tournament.
The “Young Guns” squad was a sight to behold with its speed and skill. Team Europe, the oldest squad in the tournament, turned the hockey world on its head with its run to the final.
The 2016 World Cup of Hockey also featured multiple technological advancements that were implemented into broadcasts. From digital ads along the boards to player-tracking technology, this instalment of the World Cup offered hockey fans a glimpse into the future of the game.