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Canada’s National Men’s Team
finishes the preliminary round Tuesday in a position it didn’t expect;
needing a win to absolutely secure a spot in the quarterfinals at the 2022
IIHF World Championship.
Canada fell behind early and, despite getting close, couldn’t find the
tying goal as it dropped its second in a row,
3-2 to Denmark. Max Comtois scored early in the second period to halve the Danish lead
and Ryan Graves made it a one-goal game again late in the third, but that
would be as close as the Canadians got. Chris Driedger made 21 saves
between the pipes for Canada.
France surprisingly jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on Switzerland
before falling 5-2
to the Group A leaders on Sunday. Alexandre Texier and Valentin Claireaux
had the two first-period goals for France and Sebastian Ylonen made 12
saves to take that lead. But Switzerland answered 25 seconds into the
second period, tied it around the 12-minute mark and had the lead before
the middle frame was done.
Canada and France last met at the worlds in 2019, a
5-2 win for Canada
– its fourth-straight victory against the French. Canada jumped out to a
3-0 lead (from Anthony Mantha, Darnell Nurse and Anthony Cirelli) in the
first period, but France answered back with goals in the second and third
period to cut the lead to 3-2. Mantha and Mark Stone added insurance
markers midway through the third and Carter Hart made 21 saves to secure
WHAT TO WATCH
Slow starts continue to plague Canada, as it has given up the first goal in
three of its six games, including two of the last three. It is also coming
off back-to-back losses – meaning the match-up against France has playoff
implications. As long as Canada can secure at least a single point against
France, even a regulation win from Slovakia will not be enough to knock out
the defending champions from the playoff picture.
France is out of contention for a playoff spot and isn’t in danger of
relegation, so realistically, this team is playing for pride and little
else. But as we’ve heard time-and-again, teams will always bring their
A-game against Canada. France will be rested and features one of the top
goaltenders in the tournament in Henri Corentin Buysse, who owns a .931
save percentage in four games.
A LOOK BACK
Canada and France have played 14 times at the worlds, with Canada holding
the clear advantage – 12 wins and a plus-64 goal differential.
France has made things more interesting in recent years. It’s most recent
win came in 2014, a
3-2 shootout victory, and in 2017 the Canadians came from behind
for a 3-2 prelim win. Ryan O’Reilly counted in the first period and Claude Giroux tied the game
in the last minute of the second before Marc-Edouard Vlasic won it for
Canada early in the third.
All-time record: Canada leads 12-2-0 (W-L-T)
Canada goals: 85
France goals: 21