Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Team Canada skates hard out of the gate at World Juniors

If you like offence, then it would seem that the 2012 World Juniors is going to be your kind of tournament.

Canada started off what became an avalanche of goal scoring in both Calgary and Edmonton on Monday, with a flurry of goals over three periods to set the tone of this years tournament taking their tournament opener by a score of 8-1 over Finland.

By the time that TSN or TSN2 had signed off on the opening day broadcasts there was a total of 39 goals produced over the course of the four games, including an impressive 11- 3 thrashing of Denmark by the Americans and a 9-4 victory by Sweden over Latvia.

Of the four games, the only close contest was Russia's 3-0 win over Switzerland, judging by the volume of goals on Monday, we should congratulate the Swiss on their defensive acumen, clearly Jacques Lemaire's time there many years ago had an impact.

Canada looked good right from the opening puck drop, the game the domain of Mark Stone, who recorded a hat trick for Team Canada, adding on an assist for good measure for a four point night.  The line combination of Huberdeau, Strome and Stone seemingly set to have a pretty successful tourney, if one game is to be considered as the benchmark.

The Finns who had a rather nice pre tournament, just never seemed to find the gear required to keep up with the Canadians, frequently out hustled to the puck and far too tentative in the corners. Defensively they were a bit of a mess as well, unable to clear the puck from in front of Christopher Gibson, who would find no sympathetic respite from the onslaught of shots and inevitable goals.

While the game plan on the ice was executed pretty well to perfection, the game was not without its downside, Canada lost the services of Devante Smith-Pelly, who saw his tournament come to an end in the second period when he took a shot off his left leg, fracturing his foot and sending him to the Anaheim Duck's training room for the next four to six weeks.

It will be a missing ingredient to the team that may come to haunt Canada in later games, once the tournament teams revise their strategies a bit and tighten up their defensive play.

Losing someone of Smith-Pelly's calibre and character is a hole that Don Hay will have to try and work with, an unwanted requirement but one of those things that comes along and tests a team from time to time.

The road to the Gold medal is never an easy one, steeped with many potential mis-steps along the way, it's how you handle the adversity that cam dictate the difference between success and watching the other guys collect the gold medal.

Canada makes their next step on that path on Wednesday, when they match up with the Czech Republic.

Edmonton Sun-- Canada 8, Finland 1

No comments: