Aided by seven power-play goals and a record-tying performance by Connor Bedard, Team Canada defeated Germany 11-2 in their second game of the tournament. After falling to Czechia in their tournament opener, the Canadians put together a strong performance and demonstrated how potent of an offence they possess. Here are five takeaways from the game.
Connor Bedard Loves Playing on Dec. 28
This is the second straight year Bedard has dominated a World Juniors game on Dec. 28. In 2021, he recorded four goals against Austria in an 11-2 victory. This year, he stepped his game up a notch and recorded three goals and four assists also in an 11-2 victory but this time against the Germans. Another iconic game for one of the best Canadian prospects to ever play at the World Juniors.
With his seven-point performance, Bedard also tied the Canadian record with the most points in a game at the World Juniors. He joins Dave Andreychuk, Brenden Morrow, Mike Cammalleri, and Gabriel Bourque as the only players to accomplish the feat. His three goals also put him in a tie for second all-time on the Canadian list in goals with 12 joining Eric Lindros, John Tavares and Jeff Carter. He is on track for a record-setting tournament and could become the first Canadian player to ever eclipse 20 points at a single World Juniors.
Olen Zellweger Dominant Again
Olen Zellweger is once again having a dominant start to the World Juniors. In just over 18 minutes of ice time, he finished with three assists and six shots on goal. He was also the quarterback on the first unit power play and played a key role in getting pucks to the net which led to multiple scoring chances.
Related: Ducks’ McTavish and Zellweger Are Ready for the NHL
Latest News & Highlights
Not only is Zellweger dominant in the offensive zone, but he has also been Canada’s best defender in their own end. Whether it is the penalty kill or five on five, he has done a good job shutting down the opposition’s best players. He is the heartbeat of Canada’s defensive group and looks even better than he did at the 2022 World Juniors where he was named to the tournament All-Star Team.
Canada’s Lethal Power Play
The driving factor behind Canada’s victory was the seven power play goals they scored. They now lead the tournament with eight power play goals and an impressive 61.54% efficiency rate. This power play is lethal and showed what they are capable of if given an opportunity.
A major reason behind the first unit scoring five of the seven goals was unsurprising, the presence of Bedard. Since the German penalty kill was so focused on him, it opened up other opportunities with players left wide open. This led to Dylan Guenther recording a power play hat trick. Both units are extremely talented and will be a key factor to watch throughout the tournament.
Third-Period Discipline Once Again an Issue
For the second straight game, Canada took three straight penalties in the third period. While they were able to kill off all three against Czechia, they weren’t so lucky versus the Germans as they gave up a power play goal while killing the first penalty. While they didn’t have an effect on the game’s outcome, it is a concerning trend that needs to be addressed.
Related: 2023 Guide to the World Junior Championship
In general, Canada is taking too many penalties. They have been shorthanded the most so far throughout the tournament and have given up a power play goal in each of their first two games. Penalty trouble has already cost multiple teams this year and will be something to monitor as the tournament progresses.
Canada Balances Ice Time
Since the Canadians were able to establish a large lead after the second period, it allowed the coaching staff to balance the team’s ice time. Brennan Othmann was the only player over 18:30 while Caedan Bankier and Reid Schaefer were the only ones under ten minutes. The rest came primarily in the third period where Bedard, Zellweger, Joshua Roy, Shane Wight and Logan Stankoven all played under four minutes.
With Canada’s game against Austria starting less than 24 hours after the conclusion of this one, being able to rest their top players should ensure the team stays fresh and ready. The balanced ice time also allowed the bottom-six players to be more involved in the game and even led to a goal that was scored by Zack Ostapchuk. It was a strong performance by the entire team and one Canada can hopefully build off of as the tournament continues.
Canada Ready For Austria
As mentioned, the Canadians have a quick turnaround as they face Austria on day four of the 2023 World Juniors. The last time these two teams played was the Bedard four-point game last December before the tournament was eventually suspended due to COVID-19. Expect another strong effort for Team Canada as a win in regulation would guarantee them a spot in the quarterfinals.