When it comes to the competitive balance of women’s hockey, Saturday’s tournament-opening two games might earn an “Incomplete” after pondering Canada’s 5-0 win against Switzerland combined with America’s 3-1 victory versus Finland.
On one hand, Finland and Switzerland didn’t get blown out; a glance at the score alone would hint at competitiveness.
On the other hand, neither contest was ever really in much (if any) doubt. Canada poured 48 shots on Switzerland in the first two periods of today’s game to build a 5-0 lead and then cruised to victory. America nearly tripled the Finns’ shot output in a game with a misleadingly close score.
If nothing else, the new Olympic format does indeed seem like it might limit blowouts, although one could also wonder if the reasonable scores can be explained by two strong goaltending performances.
As it stands, it’s difficult to shake the sense that America and Canada are indeed on a collision course, but at least nations may avoid being embarrassed by double-digit scores before the two powers face off.