Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Canada/Slovakia Observations

In game two in what I'll consider a series in which I chronicle each Canadian game at the 2017 World Junior Hockey Championship. In tonight's tilt, a game I was able to view on tape delay was a rout featuring the Canadians and the lowly Slovakians.

It's hard to read much into this hockey game. For what it's worth as evidenced by a previous post I forged prognosticating this championship I don't think highly of the Slovaks as I predict we'll see the Latvians upending the Slovaks thus dropping them down to relegation which from what I know now could be a scary proposition with the Fins in danger of playing in that game. Getting back to the particular goaltending matchup, with the shots 44-6 in favor of Canada, University of Connecticut goaltender Adam Huska was bombarded and had very little chance on any goal. The only point I'll make regarding Huska is the disappointment I have in the Canadian Hockey League for not taking advantage of the European goaltending market as all it's done is push the NCAA's agenda as it's provided them a recruitment chip to lure the best backstoppers internationally. The objective from "banning' European netminders was to further develop the North American tender but in all actuality it's had the opposite effect. Pertaining to Conor Ingram,there's nothing insightful to report here other then to say if I was the man in charged I'm giving Ingram the start versus Latvia but I suspect Hart will called upon.

Does Dominque Ducharme read this masterpiece? Evidently so as I was pleading that Anthony Cirelli receive an extended role and Ducharme delivered on this wish as Cirelli was much more noticeable in all situations and my further down player rankings will showcase how substantially his effort enhanced in all areas. I think Cirelli could admirably inherit a first line role as linemates Dillon Dube and Blake  Speers didn't do a lot from  my vantage point to compliment the work ethic of the Oshawa General. Let's face it, back in 2009 and 2010 Jordan Eberle was renowned for scoring big goals and Anthony is no stranger to scoring in the clutch as he potted the golden goal in the 2015 Memorial Cup Final. However, for whatever reason Cirelli doesn't seem to garner the notoriety that Ebs once did and hopefully with tournament stardom will come exposure. Two games has told enough of the story that Tyson Jost and Julien Gauthier haven't found the chemistry and shouldn't be linemates, it's time to test the compatibility of Jost and Cirelli.  The Slovaks played a style particularly in that first period that was all about sitting back and waiting for mistakes. When you're the inferior representative that's not a valid strategy. Aggressiveness enhances the chance that you may get blown out worse then the Cleveland Browns on any given Sunday but conversely allows you to take risks that could lead to the unorthodox goal. For Slovakia tonight it was abundantly clear that very few stood out aside from Boris Sadecky. After observing his season statistics courtesy of hockeydb.com I was surprised to notice he's only accumulated four points in thirteen games. This is most definitely an indictment of the Slovakian Hockey Association and how they need to do a better job of promoting offence.

I was rather harsh on the play of Kale Clague on opening night. The smallish soft as butter defenceman came out with an edge today and will need that the rest of the way. Admittely I haven't been the biggest Clague fan in my viewings of the Brandon Wheat Kings but will say the thing that's always stood out has been his willingness to jump into rushes and not be afraid to make a mistake fully understanding that physical limitations make it impossible for him to stay on a level playing field. He was more proactive in attempting to lay out the big hit tonight and was smart in picking his spots. Getting back to my belief that Ducharme must read this(tongue in cheek),Jeremy Lauzon was afforded a larger role although the score could've dictated that. A lot of complaints were vocalize that this team was too Eastern Canadian heavy on defence specifically with the conspiracy theory being that they wanted to cater to the Eastern Canadian bias with it being hosted by Toronto/Montreal. Lauzon was the poster child for this criticism but hasn't looked out of place one bit. As the tournament progresses and the wins continue to be compiled Lauzon's responsibility will only pullulate. Latvia will be a tricky test with the game plans being built around stymieing San Jose Shark prospect Rudolf Balcers and if the trend of Lauzon replacing Fabbro in key situations, Lauzon and the two other Quebecois defenceman best prepare for a high dosage of Balcers.

Now off to the game rankings.....(in parentheses will be the players overall score for the tournament)

1.Anthony Cirelli(7)
2.Kale Clague(20)
3.Noah Juulsen(8)
4.Julien Gauthier(16)
5.Jeremy Lauzon(19)
6.Thomas Chabot(10)
7.Mathieu Joseph(24)
8.Jake Bean(19)
9.Matt Barzal(11)
10.Pierre-Luc Dubois(20)
11.Blake Speers(19)
12.Michael McLeod(28)
13.Dylan Strome(22)
14.Phillipe Myers(15)
15.Tyson Jost(22)
16.Nicholas Roy(19)
17.Taylor Raddysh(30)
18.Dillon Dube(33)
19.Mitchell Stephens....injury situation unclear as of this writing(38)
20.Dante Fabbro(40)

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