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Thread: (Opinion) IHWC teams on smaller ice in Canada 2008

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    2008 IHWC (Opinion) IHWC teams on smaller ice in Canada 2008

    I am curious about your opinion before world championship begins in May. What do you think how the lesser teams will fare playing in the smaller NHL sized. Will it help them improve greatly in the game or will it be the opposite effect? Explain why it will help them and why it wont? I realize that most of the lesser teams will be playing in the smaller NHL sized for the first time. Look at Italy, they were slow-foot in the Olympics but smaller ice might help them to defend better?

    If the result showed that the game in this World Championship is exciting and the scores is kept close, will IIHF considers letting each nation decide of which rink they want to use, for their own advantage of hosting tournaments whether it is smaller ice surface or larger international size surface? If the lesser countries think that international sized rink does not suit their game, will IIHF allow them to use smaller ice when hosting the World Championship? It is supposed to be the home ice advantage and not disadvantage.

    Will this year World Championship and 2010 Olympics change the public opinion regards to rink size when it is over?

    People who have watched Olympics hockey on a regular basis every 4 years but doesn't watch hockey on any other years, World Championship or national leagues might be shocked to see the different dynamic of the game on a smaller ice with more action and more forward game with lots of physical plays than passing combinations normally seen on larger ice surface. I wonder what would their reaction will be after all those events are over.

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    I think the NHL-laden teams will have a big advantage. I think it's easier to go from small ice to big because you're used to not having that much time on small and stuff like that. Small ice equals more pressure on defenses meaning they will need to be MORE mobile than on big ice. Maybe foot speed advantages take a tiny hit, but puck movement ability and quickness are absolutely essential. I don't think anything in terms of policy is going to change because so many countries around the world already use the big ice but North America, where all the money, is where most of the small ices are so...there's a stalemate there.

    But to answer your questions: I think we can expect even bigger blow outs than usual by big teams over minnows.

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    IHF Staff Steigs's Avatar
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    I'm with Neugs on this one.

    As for the following point....

    Quote Originally Posted by coolboarder View Post
    If the result showed that the game in this World Championship is exciting and the scores is kept close, will IIHF considers letting each nation decide of which rink they want to use, for their own advantage of hosting tournaments whether it is smaller ice surface or larger international size surface? If the lesser countries think that international sized rink does not suit their game, will IIHF allow them to use smaller ice when hosting the World Championship? It is supposed to be the home ice advantage and not disadvantage.
    North America is the only place where you'll find NHL-sized rinks to play on anyway. IIHF regulations require standard (international) sized ice surface, and so everywhere that has a rink available for a WC tournament, has built it to standard specs.
    The only places you might find smaller rinks used is in nations where the game is just starting up, so DivIII nations.

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    IHF Member v-man's Avatar
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    It depends on the team. Some one like Italy might be in favour of the smaller ice due to slower skaters and the fact that most of their team is made up of dual citizen Canadians who grew up on the smaller surface. A lot of players on Latvia either played junior in Canada, or have AHL and even NHL experience, so they are not that unfamiliar with the smaller surface either. Most of the artificial rinks there are not Olympic size either, so a lot of them definitely feel comfortable on the smaller surface. Teams like Slovenia, Germany and Denmark might have a harder time adjusting.

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    Well the biggest thing is the prevalence of physical play on smaller ice. Forecheckers like Jason Chimera or Jamal Mayers will get to defensemen quick and take the body. The Germans will probably be comfortable because they already like a physical type of hockey (especially if the Ottawa Senators keep playing like they did today and Schubert goes to play for Germany ;)). The bottom line is not speed - the bottom line is can the team move the puck fast enough?

    Here's another question: many teams will no doubt try to trap on the small ice. Is the fact that the ice is smaller a help to trapping teams against NHL-calibre squads, or is it a tactic that will ruin smaller teams because of the fact that the trap has become pretty prevalent in the NHL and the Americans, Canadians, Finns etc. know well how to break it down.

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    NHL play-offs was starting tonight. Now, there was quite physical plays on both conferences. Do you think there would be a lot of physical plays if it were to be played on larger ice? I doubt it because it will be lots of space and boring to watch a play-offs game. I'd watch the war zone than a finesse game in the play-offs.

    Now, thank you for your opinion. It will be interesting to see what lesser teams can do for the first time on smaller ice and their reaction in post game interview on how they like to play smaller ice or not. They could like it or dislike it. If they plays on the smaller ice, they'd develop the team work more and depends on hockey smart to win the game regardless of skills. I believe that smaller ice helps to develop teamwork than larger ice would because an individual would hold the puck a little bit more and create for more individual plays than team work and they can get away from it if it doesn't work. It remains to be seen the next few years on Olympics. If Finland or Sweden did not play Canada Cup in 1980's on smaller ice surface, they might not be able to learn how to defeat Canada years later. Soviet Union was able to beat Canada on smaller ice and it was exciting games than larger ice surface. It was ironic that Canada was able to beat Soviet on larger ice in 72 and Soviet was able to beat Canada on smaller ice as well. It was other way around it.

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    IHF Member leftofcenter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coolboarder View Post
    NHL play-offs was starting tonight. Now, there was quite physical plays on both conferences. Do you think there would be a lot of physical plays if it were to be played on larger ice? I doubt it because it will be lots of space and boring to watch a play-offs game. I'd watch the war zone than a finesse game in the play-offs.
    The large ice surface would make for a free-er flowing game that's for sure. But the corners are still corners and open ice hits would still happen - just more selectively. I think the large ice would be way better in the NHL as the physical game would adapt and not be like the European game style that NA's don't care for. What's to say it wouldn't be like the Finnish game? or the Swedish Elitserien that we're seeing right now in the playoffs? That's very physical game where all the hits are followed and players taken out like in the NHL. I think the "large ice = no hitting" idea is just a scare tactic by owners as they'd lose lucrative seating...

    By the way - is there an NHL rule that states all rinks surfaces have to be the same? It never used to be that way - I still like the idea that some rebel owner (haha - as if there's such a thing) builds an arena with olympic sized ice. Then the game would be interesting. It's like the opposite of those NHL teams visiting the old Chicago arena - where they had to change the way they played. Chicago Stadium's ice surface (1929-1984), which was smaller than the standard 200-feet by 85-feet setup in the NHL (less room between the blue lines). But globalization is affecting hockey too it seems.

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    IHF Member Tokyo Bucks's Avatar
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    Yeah, the Original Six rinks often had funky dimensions before the arena building rush of the last decade or so. Now every rink is the same, boring. I love the physical game on the big ice. Open ice hits still happen with the same ferocity, and checks can be finished as well, but with more space for creative players to shine. If the NHL wasn't so reliant on gate receipts, having Olympic sized rinks in NA might not be unfeasible (there are some international sized rinks in multi-rink complexes, right?) NHL could lead the way and have new rinks international size, but they missed the boat as most teams have new rinks already.
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    Quote Originally Posted by leftofcenter View Post
    By the way - is there an NHL rule that states all rinks surfaces have to be the same? It never used to be that way - I still like the idea that some rebel owner (haha - as if there's such a thing) builds an arena with olympic sized ice. Then the game would be interesting. It's like the opposite of those NHL teams visiting the old Chicago arena - where they had to change the way they played. Chicago Stadium's ice surface (1929-1984), which was smaller than the standard 200-feet by 85-feet setup in the NHL (less room between the blue lines). But globalization is affecting hockey too it seems.
    There is a rule for the NHL I'm pretty sure...in the league that I follow the most intensely - Ontario University hockey - pretty much all the rink sizes are different hehe...it makes it interesting and teams are built for their home rink (at least at the higher levels). My school's team plays on an olympic sized rink at the Waterloo Recreational Complex whereas our closest rivals, the University of Waterloo, plays on a piece of crap tiny ice surface. They are built for size and trapping systems, we are built for team speed and forechecking. I know junior hockey in Canada has no such rule either - the Belleville Bulls of the OHL's rink is olympic size while the Windsor and Niagara ice surfaces are tiny. I'm sure such a thing has an effect on the players. Being Canadian I do prefer the high tempo, physical game of smaller rinks but I do agree with leftofcenter - were the NHL to shift to international size rinks teams would adapt. I mean people talk about Canada's play in international hockey - it's still physical, it's still up-tempo - hockey is still hockey. There is far more that effects playing styles then the size of the rink.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neugs View Post
    Ontario University hockey - pretty much all the rink sizes are different hehe...it makes it interesting and teams are built for their home rink (at least at the higher levels). My school's team plays on an olympic sized rink at the Waterloo Recreational Complex whereas our closest rivals, the University of Waterloo, plays on a piece of crap tiny ice surface. They are built for size and trapping systems, we are built for team speed and forechecking.
    Ah, But the U of A Bears play on a realtively small rink (I've played my share of hockey there) and their game is not a trapping game but always built on speed, long breakouts, and until this year, the strongest forecheck seen in CIS hockey. Can you say "3 cups in 4 years?" Mind you, the years they won in Edmonton was at the Coliseum for final two games - that was when the Coloseum still had some of the best NHL ice and super lively boards - again, played quite a few rec level games there.

    So I think speed can be had on both surfaces. Again, it's just the owners...

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    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Sorry, but I think that most of you are getting the issue at hand a little wrong.

    You are all discussing what impact the smaller North American rink size would have on the IHWC games in Canada.

    What really matters is not the rink size but the size of the defensive/offensive end-zones. This is the critical issue since IIHF studies have shown that around 70% of the action in an average game takes place in the end-zones.

    In absolute numbers, the end-zones are bigger in international rinks than in North American rinks (519 vs 506 square metres), but relatively the end-zones are bigger in North American than in European rinks. This can easily be verified. Since international rinks measures 61 x 30 = 1830 square metres, each end-zone area constitutes (519 x 100%/1830) 28.3% in international rinks. In North American rinks, each end-zone area constitute (506 x 100%/1586) 31.9%. Each defending team thus has relatively more of the ice to cover in the North American rinks.

    When discussing whether to stay with the North American or adopt the international end-zone markings in the upcoming world championships and Olympics in North America, the IIHF decided to go for the international end-zone markings. The philopsophy was that the increase of the offensive/defensive zones would make up for the initial loss in width space. What was 'neglected' was that international end-zone markings in North-American rinks, will increase the relative surface to be defended even more. Instead of 31.9%, each end-zone area in the upcoming tournament will now constitute (519 x 100%/1586) 32.7%.

    In other words, in the previous European hosted IHWC's the lesser teams have needed to defend 28.3% of the ice surface. In the upcoming IHWC in Canada, this area will increase to 32.7%. Or to put it differently, they would actually have 1/7 more of the ice surface to defend. In absolute numbers, the defensive area will remain the same (around 520 square metres), but I think the relative number matters more. In any case, IIHF's decision cannot be said to be to the lesser teams' advantage.

    Given that most of the play will take place in the lesser teams defensive area, there can be little doubt that the lesser teams will face a tougher ride in the upcoming event than in previous years. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see more blowouts than usual, though, of course, this depends on how much the lesser teams have focused on the issue in their preparations. As for my own team (Denmark) I can't see any signs in this direction. But other teams may have smarter coaches.

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    The only diffrens this year will be that United States will be a contender for the gold. Normaly Sweden, Canada, Czech.Republic and Finland are the contenders for gold but in this championship I think USA will be a contender. I will put some money on USA in this World championship.

    Canada the number 2 team in the World will be favorits and Sweden and Czech.republic will allways be strong contenders for the gold but this year United States have its big chans to get the gold. If not Finland had its big Sweden and Canada complex I think Finland have taken the gold....It will all come down to the draws in the QF....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Karsten View Post
    Given that most of the play will take place in the lesser teams defensive area, there can be little doubt that the lesser teams will face a tougher ride in the upcoming event than in previous years. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see more blowouts than usual, though, of course, this depends on how much the lesser teams have focused on the issue in their preparations. As for my own team (Denmark) I can't see any signs in this direction. But other teams may have smarter coaches.
    Latvia has hard training to be better physically than it was other years, to be able to play more physical game on the smaller ice. I don't know if it will help but I hope so.

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    I think rink width is just as important too Karsten...a big thing of importance is that for defensemen the angles are key and knowing how much space you can afford attackers to the outside. On narrower rinks it is viable for defensmen (especially stronger ones) to directly take the body - whether or not that is a big body check or just rubbing off the puck. On wider rinks however that is not always a viable option unless you have a highly mobile defense corps and even then, a quick defender can more quickly put himself out of position on a wider rink.

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    I have a question. Since Team Finlands type of style is closely similar to Canadian style, a different game than the Swedes to (Who for the last few years have played defensive). How will Finland's type of play, of dump on the fore check. That style really does well to inhibit Canada's end to end talent. On the European IIHF standard ice, it seems to give Canadians problem vs the Fins, I wonder how it will be in the smaller surface.

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    I wonder how the european based players will do on the smaller rinks - with less time than they are used to.

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    IHF Staff Steigs's Avatar
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    We heard from Zaripov... I suspect he'll probably get pasted a couple times into the end-boards and then disappear.
    This is hockey, not ballet, Zaripov! Suck it up and quit whining!

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    IHF Member Karsten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steigs View Post
    This is hockey, not ballet, Zaripov! Suck it up and quit whining!
    Well, we all have different views on what hockey is. Along with a lot of Europeans, I used to prefer the Russian "ballet" on ice to the Canadian "dump and chase" - in the days when the playing styles were clearly distinctive across the continents, but this is another matter which no longer matters as the European and North American playing styles have converged.

    Both rink sizes have their pros and cons. We can discuss this to infinity. What is important to understand and respect is that attitudes to the different rink sizes are often ingrained in national hockey cultures. Since the 'big ice' is part and parcel of Russian hockey ever since it started to evolve in the 1930s, Zaripov's view is quite instructive as it represent many Russians resentment about the smaller North American rink.

    Having said this, I think most European teams will adapt fairly quickly to the smaller rink. They have after all been practising in smaller rinks for several weeks. It may take the preliminary round to fine-tune which could be important in those games which have relevance for what teams go to the play-downs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steigs View Post
    North America is the only place where you'll find NHL-sized rinks to play on anyway. IIHF regulations require standard (international) sized ice surface, and so everywhere that has a rink available for a WC tournament, has built it to standard specs.
    The only places you might find smaller rinks used is in nations where the game is just starting up, so DivIII nations.
    It's not true, in fact.

    In France for example, a significant part (30% ?) of the rinks are 56m x 26m and not Olympic size (60 x 30).
    I think it's the same in some other countries. In Denmark, I think Vojens ice rink has smaller size for example.

    Sure, the bigger rinks are almost always Olympic-sized, but there were IIHF competitions organized in 56x26 rinks in France. I remember Anglet hosted a European Junior (U18) Championships during the 80s.
    Here it is...
    http://www.hockeyarchives.info/U-18_1984.htm
    that tournament was not played on Olympic-size ice, that's sure. And it might have helped Soviet Union defeat, by the way...



    As for Zaripov, note that he told that... while being elected best forward in the tournament !It's not like he played poorly and tried to find an excuse.

    (Watching the Kazan line play in WC last year, I didn't think it was ballet, I think it was great hockey...)

    By the way, Bykov interview after next game was interesting too, basically : "Interesting to see how the players try to find a way to adapt. I won't ask my players to change their style now. We won't play a simple, basic game. I believe in Russian craftiness."

    We'll see if he's right to be so optimistic...
    That's the way it crumbles, cookie-wise

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    Karsten, we have the odd game on the standard-size (or Olympic-size if you prefer) ice pad at the Bell SensPlex here in Ottawa. I actually prefer it to North-American-size ice. That being said, our "non-contact" beer-league hockey is still more physical than I think some of the fairies coming from overseas (and yes, this is what I think of some, not all, players who whine about physicality) are used to in supposedly full-contact pro hockey.
    That includes the games on teh standard-size ice.

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    One big change will be the bigger zons, in this championship PP and BP will be more importen.

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    IHF Member Alessandro Seren Rosso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steigs View Post
    Suck it up and quit whining!
    What whine? He said that smaller ice surface kills creativity.
    He may be right or not (I do agree with him, but this is another speech), but I don't see any sign of whining in his phrases.
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    IHF Member leftofcenter's Avatar
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    I watched some of the RSL as well as Elitserien playoffs (and DEL too) and I saw a lot of dump and chase style being played. I don't think we can say that it's one of the other any more. In the NHL there are a lot of players who'll carry the puck in and set up play after the quick pivot once the blue line is gained. The big difference is of course when failing to gain the blue line a lot of RSL/SEL forwards will pass right back out to set up again while NA hockey will dump it in and either change over or chase it down.

    My point is that the European teams will adjust fine. Just like the NA teams adjust to the larger ice surface. As for the pounding that they'll be taking - well, its a short tournament and probably won't play as big a factor as the NHL playoffs that go for so long and now seem to be played out in 7 game series right from the start. The NHL playoffs are really a grind on the body - there's some truth to the theory that a lot of Euro players not used to the NA game wear out before the second or third round (long schedule and then a ramped up physical game)

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    IHF Member welmu's Avatar
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    I was thinking is there lot of european referees coming to this tournament? If so i'm little scared that we will see lot of penalties and more blow outs. Maybe it's not so simple but seeing many tournaments played in europe which had had a lot of powerplay what happens when things happen much faster...

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    Quote Originally Posted by welmu View Post
    I was thinking is there lot of european referees coming to this tournament? If so i'm little scared that we will see lot of penalties and more blow outs. Maybe it's not so simple but seeing many tournaments played in europe which had had a lot of powerplay what happens when things happen much faster...
    I think this is a very warranted fear. The refereeing (at least at the beginning) of the Vancouver World Juniors was horrifically bad and that was also on small ice. They have to stop calling the sounds of the boards! We'll see though...

    I wonder also about the constant physical pressure the North American teams will put on European defenses and the discipline factor that comes into play when a player is worn out by it. I don't have illusions that Canada will for example cause that type of problem against Finland or Russia...this isn't the 80s...but perhaps weaker teams will have more trouble staying out of the box when they get frustrated with the hitting.

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    IHF Member leftofcenter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neugs View Post

    I wonder also about the constant physical pressure the North American teams will put on European defenses and the discipline factor that comes into play when a player is worn out by it.
    Hey, it might be the other way around - did you see how Sweden at the World Juniors really forced the Canadians with the hard forecheck?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alessandro View Post
    What whine? He said that smaller ice surface kills creativity.
    He may be right or not (I do agree with him, but this is another speech), but I don't see any sign of whining in his phrases.
    Look at the play last night, Montreal vs Boston, Mark Streit scored a beautiful breakaway goal by a pinpoint pass from Kovalev on neutral zone. There was a play that there's creativity in Kostitsyn where he elude the Bruin defenceman and scored a beautiful goal and there was plenty of creativity all over whether it's a beautiful goal, or grinding goal, or a garbage goal. The point of the game is scoring chances the most exciting play in hockey that the goaltender robbed many players of sure goals thousand of time. You never know how the goaltender allow that goal or rob them making a great saves. That's creativity on goaltender part as well. Smaller ice makes the players a lot of teamwork and creativity team plays such as 3 on 2 plays by Washington against Philly, got to be the best goal I even.... passed back and forth, not one, but two give-n-go plays on a very small space.

    So therefore, smaller ice does not kill creativity, it creates creativity on finding a way to score a goal. It encourages more on a teamwork rather than individual plays. Hockey is a team sports, not an individual sport like pool or table tennis or track&field.

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    Quote Originally Posted by leftofcenter View Post
    Hey, it might be the other way around - did you see how Sweden at the World Juniors really forced the Canadians with the hard forecheck?
    I wouldn't say this years world junior team Canada was your typical Team Canada...only Colton Gillies really played physically...and sometimes Legein and Sutter...but other than that the rest of the time were not really the typical Canadian players.

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    I think Finland is gonna be very tough in Canada, cause the finnish hockey is nearist to the canadian hockey if you compare the teams from EU. Also a lot of our players have former experience from NHL.

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    IHF Member Tokyo Bucks's Avatar
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    well, if the big 7 rosters are mostly made up of NHL players (but the usual case seems to be about half NHL players), it's almost a continuation of their NHL seasons for them. And many others have NHL/NA experience so the small ice isn't so foreign. It's the lesser hockey nations that won't be used to the small ice.
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    Day 1 is in the books. From your observation, what is your take of how lesser teams fare today with the smaller ice. If there is a bigger ice, would it be more boring or smaller ice more exciting?

    I have able to catch only one game so far, Canada vs Slovenia. I was observing of how they handled the powerhouse Canadian team. They have faced Canada in 2006 with 0-8 loss in the bigger ice. Now, with those smaller ice, it does make a difference in goaltending but their offense seems to be out of sync with those smaller ice and made lots of turnovers and could not muster an offense. I observed that the Slovenia team was getting better at the end of the game but it was too late. They were able to score a 2-man adv goal with beautiful passing to Kopitar. Goaltending has been a big difference for him, 60 saves.. wow.. on 65 shots. It could have been more but his great saves keeps them in the game even they couldn't muster offense for the team. I don't think bigger ice would have made a bigger difference since they might not be able to learn anything from the pros if they played on bigger ice. Smaller ice helps defense and cover more quicker but Canadian speed is no match for Slovenia.

    The Slovenia offense was not able to adjust to the North America game and held to the puck longer that the Canadian players comes to them quicker and it caused turnover and their tactics seems to be out of touch in the attacking zone. They did not play the cycle game much and it looked like they did not know what to do when they are in offense zone. Only Kopitar was able to carry them. Most of the shots was outside shots except for a few occasion of mini-breakaway chances.

    I am curious of your reaction in other games, lesser nations of how they played on the smaller ice so far today, Latvia vs US and Russia vs Italy, and Czech Rep vs Denmark. When the first drop of the puck, I was not used to smaller ice on IHWC but it has been more quicker pace to it than bigger ice would have provided us the entertainments on international hockey.

    On Canada Cup back in 1980's, Sweden, and Finland were able to improve greatly by playing those teams on smaller ice surface and it seemed to help them in 90's. Just my opinion.

    Coolboarder

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