Here are the numbers:
Scoring chances total as follows, Canada first. ES 10-7, PP 4-0, SH 2-5 Total 16-12. Of note in the first the Russians only have three chances, all on the PP. In the second they again only have three, this time though they are at ES. Also of note, no scoring chances against when on the PP, more on that in a bit.
Corsi totals as follows, Canada first. ES 49-37, PP 4-1, SH 2-12. Canada cuts their events against down by almost a third. Only four events with the man advantage, one of those is the Esposito goal 6v5 and one is the Cournoyer goal. Indeed each Corsi event with the advantage is a scoring chance.
Total faceoffs 5v5 - offensive zone 14, neutral zone 20, defensive zone 11 - note that in the first two periods there were only five defensive zone draws for Canada. Pretty good, they had twelve in the Russian zone. In the third there are six draws in Canada's zone at ES but half of those come after the game is out of reach.
Total faceoffs 5v4 - offensive zone 3, neutral zone 5, defensive zone 1 - the defensive zone draw was because of an icing at the beginning of the third
Total faceoffs 4v5 - offensive zone 1, neutral zone 2, defensive zone 6 - notes below on Sinden handling the defensive zone draws.
On the back end on the PK they run out White and Stapleton quite a bit. The PK runs from being very good to just hanging on by a thread at times. The first kill they only give up one chance but its an absolute five bell job, cross crease pass, your man is wide open and Esposito slides over nice and easy and makes it look easy. The second PK its White and Stapleton again as well as the Mahovlich brothers, a couple of chances against this time, including another one that Esposito makes the proverbial 'miraculous save' on.
So this is one difference between game one and two. The Canadians have the better of the play in the first, indeed they don't allow a scoring chance against at ES but Esposito bails out the PK twice. Goaltending.
There is one kill in the second period. Here Sinden sends out Park and Lapointe. The results are far better. The only scoring chance is one for Frank Mahovlich; his younger brother puts on one of the best exhibitions I have ever seen as he kills about a minute of it off by himself.
The game turns on two kills in the third. With the Canadians up 2-0 the Russians burn Bergman and Park with a breakaway pass; the Russian misses and then passes the puck to an uncovered teammate who scores. Almost immediately afterwards they earn another PP. And this is where Mahovlich (Peter) scores an unbelievable goal. The rest of the PK is uneventful as first Lapointe and White and then Park and Bergman so the honours with varied forwards.
The Russians PP almost gets as many scoring chances as they do at ES. Stopping it is key in this game and in the future and the Canadians manage to get the job done tonight but the results are a little uneven and one can see where this is going to be a problem down the road.
The D pairings are fairly reasonable. Park and Bergman take on the majority of the defensive draws in the first two periods while Stapleton and White are sheltered, they get all neutral or offensive zone faceoffs up until the third. Savard and Lapointe only get a couple of defensive draws in the first two periods. Truth is though, the Russians get very few draws in Canada's zone in periods one and two so while I do think Sinden runs out Park and Bergman as much as he can I also think he is able to do so because Canada has the advantage. In the third the Russians come on a little and get more draws in the Canadian zone. I think Sinden goes to a regular rotation at this point for a few reasons. He can't run Park and Bergman out over and over again. Also while they have been good they have not been great. And finally I think that the other two pairs have been fine and thus have gained the coach's confidence. White and Stapleton are in the red when it comes to scoring chances but they are in the black in Corsi (as they should be considering their zone starts) and the reality is they are pretty solid back there. Its not like game one where Seiling and Awrey are on their heels. These guys do okay and actually in the third they end up just fine even with the defensive zone starts.
The real revelation though is the Savard/Lapointe pairing. When they are on the ice the Russians do not threaten. Their Corsi numbers are fabulous and they come out on top in scoring chances as well. Lapointe, the spare in game one, plays the PP and when the game is on the line it is he and White who get sent out to kill the penalty.
And Savard? Think Duncan Keith if you're looking for a style of play. Effortless, he skates miles and miles, relieving the Russians of the puck time and time again, spinning away from them easily, moving it up ice. Watching him and Lapointe and knowing that Larry Robinson will join them on the blue in Montreal you realize how their club was so dominant for years.
Up front lets start with the spares. Goldsworthy plays two shifts in total. In the first he gets an offensive zone faceoff and the Russians immediately take it down the ice and lay siege to the Canadian net. His second and last shift is on the PP. The PP does nothing while he is on and the only play of note is his bumping of Tretiak as he skates by after the whistle. He has amazing sideburns though. Mutton chops or goalie sticks I think they would be called.
We noted Peter Mahovlich's work on the PK and other than the same ES shift referenced above he sees very little of the ice otherwise early on. As the game wears on though he finds himself spelling Mikita a few times. Either Mikita's back is injured (he struggles with back problems later in his career) or, more likely, the aging superstar's legs aren't there. In the first period Mikita looks a bit lost, his timing is off, as might be expected, more worrisome is that he looks slow. He is sheltered, like White and Stapleton, but as the game wears on he takes on a bigger role and in the third he looks excellent, breaking into openings for scoring chances and setting up Frank Mahovlich for the backbreaker goal soon after Peter Mahovlich's shortie. On that shift he speeds into the zone and gets a nice chance, then wheels back once the Russians gain possession. As the Russian defenceman begins to come out of the zone Mikita charges in suddenly and strips him of the puck. Going behind the net his original pass is stopped but he retrieves the puck and feeds Mahovlich in the slot for the goal.
In the third, probably because Mikita has found his legs, his line is no longer sheltered. They take draws in all three zones, including two consecutive in their own on one shift, and they have the best marks for Corsi and scoring chances of any forward line in the third after two fairly quiet periods. Mikita does take the shortest shifts of any Canadian forwards though, which probably helps his cause. He races out, does his thing, heads to the bench. Here Peter Mahovlich gets a few extra shifts as he jumps on to finish the shift.
One last thing about Mikita. Regular readers here know that he was my favourite player growing up, the best player on a mediocre Blackhawks' team. I never saw him in his prime though, when he was arguably the best hockey player in the world and as a boy I probably only saw him play a dozen times, if that, and I cannot recall any of that at all. So I have to admit I was a little excited to see him play and as you can tell I kept an eye on him. He would only play one more game in the series and seeing him struggle in the first period I can guess why. He's no longer the speedy youngster who centred a line so fast they were called the Scooter Line. No surprise that after a summer of doing nothing he has a tough time with the Russians when he steps on the ice. But the fire that shows when he is arguing his points with the officials and as he discusses situations with Sinden on the bench soon lifts the older man and in the second he begins to come on and in the third one can see what he once was as he nearly beats Tretiak himself, sets up Mahovlich, drives the play up ice as his club tries to hold the lead. It was a lot of fun to watch.
Ok so a couple of more notes on the Mikita line. As I said they were sheltered in the first two periods and I would have to say that was because of their pivot but Mahovlich who was so dominant in the first game, doesn't even get a sniff at all. The Russians are matching and so I'm thinking this has something to do with it plus its a closer checking game. In any case for the big M its not happening. Cournoyer does little as well but about midway through the game he begins to get going. He had gaudy numbers in game one but he was riding coattails for those, imo, as Mahovlich and Esposito drove the bus. Tonight though he begins to live up to his nickname. He takes a pass but he is offside as he splits the D in the neutral zone. His next shift Frank Mahovlich hits him, again splitting the D, at the blue, this time he is barely offside. There is no replay but its damn close. And so at the beginning of the third Park steps over his own blue on the PP and hits Cournoyer as he tears down the right wing. He hits him in full stride and the Russians still haven't caught him today and he scores one of the most beautiful goals you will ever see. Simple as hell. Dman hits winger in full stride with the headman and the winger cuts in and beats the goalie from his offwing. a thing of beauty though.
And that seems to give the little guy that confidence and so he and Mahovlich and Mikita buzz the Russians in the third and its a good thing because the Canadians need it. A failure in the third from these three and the game may have ended differently. Instead they have a pretty nice Corsi and while they are low event when it comes to scoring chances they are in the black and that matters.
Esposito drives the bus, man. He had an excellent game one and for his troubles he loses his wingers and gets Parise and Cashman. These guys are solid but they have hands of cement, its all hack and whack, and so Espo is on his own and he ends up even steven, which will do in this case. Plus he draws two penalties. The first two periods this line is pretty solid, its only in the third where they take a bit of a bath and its really not too bad. They're not sheltered and they get shit moving in the right direction quite a bit. A few longer shifts hurt them a bit and they get dinged on those. Overall though they hold their own and while Espo's goal is 6v5 its pretty well ES as discussed earlier.
And not mentioned yet. The Canadians play it pretty dirty this game. In G1 Clarke slewfooted a Russian and then clubbed him over the head for good measure and in this game he is sticking everything that moves. He is joined by Parise, who bulldogs one Russian to the ice, Mikita, who seems to have forgotten his Lady Byngs but perhaps not his homeland as he comes in stick high again and again and Cashman who grins toothlessly as he rakes his opponents across the face liberally. A dangerous game to play with the Russian PP but certainly it would have not been an easy game to play.
Finally we come to the Clarke line. In game one their Corsi numbers were not great but they were pretty solid. They gave up few chances and invariably got the puck moving in the right direction. Tonight they are killer. No reward on the scoresheet but without them its probably a different game. In the first two periods they get the bulk of the Dzone assignments (there are few of course) and they invariably finish in the Russian end. Their scoring chance numbers lead the team, both by raw numbers and differential, and their Corsi numbers are over the top. They are dominant. A fantastic game by all three. And this mostly against Kharlamov who is not a factor and ends up sitting for nearly the entire first half of the third, when the game is decided, as he garners a misconduct after freaking out after Clarke abuses him rather vigorously at the end of the second.So that's game two. The Canadians are better and they get a deserved result. They're not a whole lot better but they are better, especially at ES. The Russians get few chances at ES and its hard to win a game like that and on the PP Esposito turns aside their best chances. And at the end of the game Hewitt is talking about how conditioning is no longer a factor for the Canadians. Funny how that narrative has turned so quickly, eh?
Two games in and the Canadians are the better team in both. Next up, Winnipeg.