Well, that was as great of a start that you can have. Team Canada whooped on Team Finland today 8-1 in the opening game of the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton. Coming into the tournament Canada was scrutinized for leaving off offensive talent like Tyler Toffoli, Ryan Murphy and Mathew Dumba. Today they showed that the team looks pretty good without them. Canada started fast scoring 2 goals in the first 5 minutes. There were no more goals until the early in the 2nd period when Alexander Ruuttu made it 2-1. After that, Canada reeled off 6 unanswered goals (2 of them from Mark Stone to complete his hat-trick) to win 8-1 and completely blow out the Finns. One of the biggest questions coming into this game was Canadian coach Don Hay starting goalie Mark Visentin over back-up Scott Wedgewood. In the pre-tournament games, Wedgewood was the better goalie, but Hay wanted to start the more experienced goalie in the opening game. Visentin was soid giving up one goal on 17 shots. He made some key saves to keep the score at 2-1 and even some nice saves late when the game was well in hand. One would think Wedgewood would start the next game vs the Czech Republic and maybe even vs Denmark to save Visentin for the US.
Now, onto the stuff:
- This is the most obvious as he was the game’s MVP. Mark Stone was terrific today scoring 3 goals and adding one assist. He developed great chemistry with linemates Jonathan Huberdeau and Ryan Strome. Stone had a great pre-tournament as well. If he can continue this, we may have found the next World Junior star for Canada.
- My favorite player coming into this tournament had a very strong game. Jonathan Huberdeau collected 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists) and looked very nice setting up Stone and Strome on their goals and should be a great player for Team Canada to lean on.
- The best name on the team had a good game, Dougie Hamilton had a goal and an assist and also looked very good on defense.
- The third member of the Stone/Huberdeau line, Ryan Strome had a nice game as well. Scoring 1 goal and assisting on 3 others. This line could become Canada’s top scoring line if this scoring continues. I obviously don’t expect these same numbers, but they could put up some nice numbers together.
- Canada’s shortest player, 5’8, had a solid game. Brendan Gallagher looked pretty good out there. With 1 goal and 1 assist, add on his good defensive play, and you have yourself one of the better 2-way players for Canada.
- Since there was so much scoring, I’ll just say the whole team was very good out there today.
- There weren’t any real bad players, but I guess one thing that could be worked on is the discipline. Canada took a few bad penalties in the first and in the third. If Canada wants to win the gold medal, they can’t take lots of penalties vs. teams like Russia, Sweden, and the USA.
- Another team issue I saw was the amount of turnovers by the Canadians. The only thing I hate more than stupid penalties, dumb turnovers. I mean every turnover is dumb, but some are just facepalm worthy. Luckily no turnovers lead to any goals, but, like the penalties, if they turn it over vs. the top tier teams, Canada won’t win.
As you can tell, I didn’t want to really call out a player after a big 8-1 win. If you saw a player that deserved to be in The Bad please comment and we can discuss it. On a damper note, winger Devante Smith-Pelly left the game with what looked like a leg injury and was seen leaving Rexall Place on crutches and a air boot. This would be a huge loss for Canada, as he is a great energy player and can hip in some goals when needed. Canada’s next game is Wednesday vs. the Czech Republic. I would expect Scott Wedgewood to start, but maybe Don Hay will surprise me. Go Canada!