Straying away from traditional game recaps, Five Thoughts will provide late-game analysis for Team Canada games at the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo.
Game Two: 7-2 win vs. the Czech Republic
The hit Here’s the replay of Zack Kassian’s attempted murder of Czech player Petr Senkerik. Kassian rightfully gets a match penalty and a one-game suspension while TSN colour commentator Pierre McGuire gets a chance to decry the state of international officiating as we slowly turn into a nation of wimps. Regardless of the colour of jersey, Kassian hit Senkerik in the head, and it will be funny to see McGuire explain himself when Senkerik misses the rest of the tournament due to a concussion or we see the picture of Kassian’s shoulder pad dead across his cheek.
The first goal Canada isn’t a team that is going to take anybody by surprise. I don’t see why the Canadian players see the need to set the tone in the first shift, since they’ve now given up early goals in consecutive games. When you hit a team with reckless abandon in an attempt to set the tone, you just leave yourself exposed. If you pick your spots, you wear the opposition down. Eventually, one early goal is going to bite them.
Injuries and scheduling Canada got their second and third period toughest games out of the way right at the start of the tournament, which is a very good thing. The game against Norway is followed by a day of rest before Canada has to take on Sweden, which gives ample time for Jaden Schwartz and Calvin De Haan to get back. Both players are very key to Canada’s strong powerplay early on in this tournament.
Brayden Schenn I tend to distance myself from looking too deep into assists since sometimes a player who isn’t given a point had more to do with setting up the goal (ie: providing a screen) than a player who passed the puck on, but Brayden Schenn’s points against the Czech Republic were very well-earned. He’s looking increasingly confidant on the puck and his mixing up his arsenal from his office on the half-circle on the powerplay. The play that both him and Louis Leblanc made on that shorthanded tally was fantastic.
Goaltending Against the Czechs? Olivier Roy was not an issue. I’d expect Dave Cameron to come back with Mark Visentin when Canada face off against Norway, but Roy is the starter on this team, played stronger in pre-tournament competition and has been deservedly handed the reins. He might like to have had both those goals back, but the first was a very strong wrist shot from Antonin Honejsek and the second was a floater from the line which knuckled as he was screened. Roy was never caught out of position or had to make a lucky save to impress the highlight reelers in this game. The Czechs were 1/5 on the PK and didn’t manage to score on the five minute major. We have certainly seen way more shaky goaltending on team’s that won the gold.
The three stars/les trois étoiles:
1: Brayden Schenn
2: Cody Eakin
3: Erik Gudbrandson
Next up: Effectively, two days off. You always hate to overlook the Norwegians, but Canada should shake them off without too much trouble, especially now that the powerplay is clicking. The Canadians then lose a day to prepare for the Swedes, a game that, depending on the outcome of their game against Russia, could determine first-place in the pool. Winning the Group is very key as not only would you get a bye, but with the Americans needing overtime to beat the Fins, you could see a strong cross-over team from Group A.