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World Cup Roundup Day 1: USA, Czechs blanked as Europe, Canada win Group A openers

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Recaps of the first two games of the World Cup of Hockey, plus the answers to burning John Tortorella and Sidney Crosby questions.

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World Cup Of Hockey 2016 - Czech Republic v Canada Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After the first day of the World Cup of Hockey,Europe and Canada find themselves in the driver’s seat(s) in Group A, while the United States and Czech Republic now face must-win situations in their remaining games.

Europe 3, United States 0

John Tortorella was out-coached by the chairman of an English Premier League club, as Europe shut out the United States in the World Cup of Hockey’s first game.

The Americans started disastrously, and trailed 1-0 just 4:19 into the game after Marian Gaborik tapped Frans Nielsen’s saucer pass backdoor past Jonathan Quick. Europe nearly made it 2-0 on a power play seven minutes later, but Quick denied Frans Nielsen with an excellent kick save.

Europe would eventually double their lead in the second period. Leon Draisaitl picked Patrick Kane’s pocket at the blueline, and scored on an easy 2-on-0 give and go with no American defensemen back.

The United States appeared to cut the lead in half on a power play, but controversy ensued. Derek Stepan appeared to score the challenged goal, but it was ruled that James Van Riemsdyk intentionally directed the puck in without his stick, and the call was overturned.

Europe would kill off that power play and the following one, and made it 3-0 thanks to a Pierre-Edouard Bellemare deflection in front. From there, Europe was content to soak up the American pressure, relying on Jaroslav Halak in net. The Slovakian goaltender put on a 2010-vintage performance, stopping all 35 American shots, as Europe held on to a 3-0 win.

John Torotrella’s Insane Coaching Decision of the Day

There’s plenty to choose from here, such as a coach that emphasizes structure telling his defensemen to pinch causing an inordinate amount of odd-man rushes, but I’m going to go with his decision to scratch Kyle Palmieri and Dustin Byfuglien.

The United States finished 0-for-4 on the power play, and failed to generate much at even strength. After the game, John Torotrella wasn’t happy with his team’s offensive prowess.

Sorry, that sound you heard was me banging my head against the desk.

I wonder if scratching last season’s highest-scoring defenseman and the American tied for the third-most goals from last season on this roster had something to do with the team’s ability to generate chances. American fans can lament the decision-making process behind this roster all they want (and if you follow me on Twitter, you know I have), but Tortorella had players at his disposal that would have helped and chose not to play them.

If you’re looking for a change ahead of a must-win game against Canada, don’t hold your breath.

Canada 6, Czech Republic 0

Canada lived up to the hype in its tournament opener in front of the home crowd, pasting the Czech Republc 6-0.

The Czechs started well, generating the first real chance of the game as Ondrej Palat’s tipped effort was denied by Carey Price. Sidney Crosby opened the scoring for the Canadians 8:26 in, firing one off of Michal Neuvirth’s back on a wraparound and informing fans that yes, the bank is open on Saturdays in Toronto.

Crosby’s line was the best on the ice, and were rewarded with two more goals in the final three minutes of the opening frame. Brad Marchand tipped Brent Burns’ point shot past Neuvirth with just under four minutes to go, and Marchand found Bergeron alone in front for an easy shot with less than a second left in the period. Canada took a 3-0 lead into the third, and wouldn’t look back.

Joe Thornton (yes, that Joe Thornton) scored his first international goal since the 2010 Vancouver Olympics on an incredible tic-tac-toe play with linemate Matt Duchene and Crosby, as his line was in the midst of a change.

Jonathan Toews and Alex Pietrangelo would add power play goals, as Canada added insult to Czech injury, winning 6-0. Carey Price made 27 saves on 27 shots, picking up his third straight shutout in competitive international games dating back to the Sochi Olympics.

Is Sidney Crosby still the best player in the world?

Yes.

Sharks Watch

Mikkel Boedker (F, Europe)

Scratched in Europe’s 3-0 win over the United States.

Joe Pavelski (F, United States)

Team-high 5 shots on goal (SOG) and second among American forwards in Time-On-Ice (TOI) with 18:29 in the United States’ 3-0 loss to Europe.

Logan Couture (F, Canada)

Second among Canadian forwards in shorthanded TOI (3:26) in Canada’s 6-0 win.

Joe Thornton (F, Canada)

Scored a goal and tied for fourth on Canada with 4 (!!!) SOG.

Brent Burns (D, Canada)

Assisted on Brad Marchand’s goal.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic (D, Canada)

Tied for lead among Canadian defensemen in shorthanded TOI (6:11) and third among all Canadian players in TOI (19:25)

Fear the Fin’s Three Stars of the Day

  1. Sidney Crosby (F, Canada)-1 G, 2 A
  2. Jaroslav Halak (G, Europe)-35 saves, 0 GA
  3. Brad Marchand (F, Canada)-1 G, 2 A

What’s up next?

Group B begins play tomorrow, as Sweden and Russia face off at 12 PM PST on ESPN. In primetime, we get our first look at North America outside of the exhibitions, as they take on Joonas Donskoi and Finland at 5 PM PST on ESPN2.