It’s that time of year again.
For hockey fans all around it’s not Christmas or New Years it’s time for the World Junior Hockey Championship. Time when I enjoy taking a breather from the NHL and instead cover the future NHL all-stars in this international event
Right now, there isn’t much discussion as we are still in the relegation round. But there are still a few notes to pass around during the first few days of the WJC.
To start, the Canadians have been playing very well. Being thought of as the third or fourth best team going into the tournament behind Sweden and the US they are more of an underdog team than usual and they have proven themselves thus far. The line of Marcus Foligno, Ryan Johansen and Zack Kassian has been a phenomenal energy line all the while producing much needed offense. Brayden Schenn of course has a total 12 pts (6 goals, 6 assists). Schenn has proven to be Canada’s star player if you will. All in all nothing to say about the defense, for the most part they have been what is expected.
The only things worth reporting; goal tending, the Kassian suspension and scouting the Russia-Sweden game. Olivier Roy has played the only important games basically stating he is our head goalie moving forward, however, it begs the question, should he be?
In his first game against Russia, Roy gave up two soft goals in Canada’s 6-3 victory. Against the Czech Republic he allowed a soft goal to start the game on the first shot and followed it up by a goal at the end of the game which he seemed to duck out of the way of. I haven’t been able to see much of the back up goalie but I find it interesting that such faith has been put in Roy after shaky performances.
Kassian laid a hit on a Czech player to ended up being called a match penalty head check leaving him suspended for the game against Norway and the upcoming game against Sweden. The hit has come under much controversy and is a huge debate on hockey forums all over the internet.
Now, I am a big fan of the way Kassian has played in the tournament so this is hard to admit. However, if you watch closely there is some shoulder to chin contact. In the IIHF a head check can also mean a check to the neck area. Technically you can call this illegal but it is very borderline. I still wish the refs made the call on the play and not waited to discuss and see how injured the player was before assessing their penalty, but despite all that I felt that a major penalty and a one-game suspension was all that was necessary.
For those who haven’t seen it, here’s the clip of Kassian’s hit on Petr Senkerik…
Finally, I managed to catch the Russia-Sweden matchup the other day. Being the so-called best team going in to the tournament I felt it necessary to scout Team Sweden and see what the Canadians will have to deal going in to their matchup tomorrow. I must admit watching the game put me at ease. I was worried for the Canadians for a bit.
The Russians dominated the majority of the play, the raw skill and speed was simply too much for the Swedish defenders. Sweden came away with the 2-0 victory, but that was only a direct result of the simply sensational play of goaltender Robin Lehner.
What I learned from watching the game is Canada can easily dominate this game, but in order to beat Lehner they are going to have to create a lot of traffic in front of him and score a few garbage rebound goals, something the Canadians have already proven to be good at.
Writer for The Reed Review & Inside Hockey