The World Junior Hockey Championships are in Ottawa this year. It’s so close to home, I find it almost embarrassing that I didn’t make the short drive to catch a game or two. I was fortunate enough to catch an exhibition game between Sweden and Czech Republic. Either way, I watched a lot of the action on the tube since Boxing Day when the tournament kicked off.
Team Canada has been playing an exciting brand of hockey year the past number of seasons… often leading to winning the championship (they’re gunning for their 5th straight). This season is no exception, however I can’t help but to notice how their defense has been particularly strong. That’s also not to say they have great players on the blueline, but I can’t say they’ve been particularly defensive. With this, here are the 2 reasons why they will struggle to win the gold medal.
1 – No shutdown duo
Schenn/Doughty, Parent/Staal, Phaneuf/whoever… The combination of Teubert/Hickey just don’t seem to be cutting it. They seem to make a lot of mistakes with and without the puck, not only against the top teams, but with some of the weaker teams. The likes of Meyers and even Subban seem to be proving themselves as more defensively responsible than these couple.
2 – Goaltender confidence
Much like reason #1, when you hear the name Tokarski, it just doesn’t ring confidence. Steve Mason, Carey Price, Jeff Glass, and M-A Fleury are all guys in recent years who you knew would make the clutch save more often than not. Tokarski doesn’t seem to fall into this group of tenders. He reminds me of Carey Price, seemingly pretty calm and plays a steady game. But I can’t help but I notice a lot of weak goals from the wings going in. He doesn’t seem to have that winning edge. Maybe it has something to do with the pro contract he signed during the tournament itself.
Of course, their offense this year has proven throughout the exhibition and tournament that they’re more than capable of winning on that reason alone.
With that said, GO CANADA GO!!!