Wednesday, December 30, 2009

WJC Update

If you haven't watched the WJC, it's not too late. The games are about to get better. USA plays Canada on New Year's Eve at 8. So, both killed the comp again yesterday with the Americans handing poor Latvia a 12-1 beat down while the host Canadians hammered Slovakia 8-2 in Taylor Hall's coming out party (hat trick).

Can anyone stop Canada? Their roster is like all All-Stars from Ryan Ellis to Jordan Eberle to Alex Pietrangelo to Nazem Kadri to Brayden Schenn to Patrice Cormier to Gabriel Bourque to Brandon McMillan to Colten Teubert to Jared Cowen to Brandon Kozun to Jake Allen. Did we mention Hall now is up to seven points? Yikes. And sadly, they didn't select other potential top pick Taylor Sequin. Scary.

In USA's predictable 11-goal rout, Ranger prospects Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider continued to turn heads with the American captain scoring twice and setting up two others while the Blueshirts' 2009 No.1 pick netted a hat trick, finishing it off in style on a penalty shot (wrister shortside). Just how good are they? Let's see how each does against the best tomorrow night in Saskatoon. Btw...Canada donned green jerseys in tribute to Sask and Robyn Regehr's wife presented the Star Of The Game. Damn. She's hot! Let's just say the Calgary defenseman is a lucky man.

Who else starred yesterday? Jersey product Kyle Palmieri (Ana) had four assists. Danny Kristo (Mtl) had a pair of goals as did Jason Zucker. Jeremy Morin had a goal and assist while Jordan Schroeder (Van) tallied two helpers along with Jake Gardiner, Philip McRae, Brian Lashoff and John Ramage. Okay. You get the point.

In the one competitive game, a more experienced Sweden handled Russia 4-1. Magnus Paajarvi Svensson (Tor) netted a goal and two assists while Andre Petersson notched two markers including a rocket thru a screen that restored a two-goal lead after Islander property Kiril Petrov converted a breakaway (forehand, far side). Daniel Brodin took full advantage of a sloppy turnover, beating Igor Bobkov with 14 and a half left for the final margin. Despite Russia holding a slight edge in shots (37-32), the Swedes were the much better team, playing better defense while also attacking more effectively. Though they each were kept off the board, Devil products Mattias Tedenby and Jacob Josefson were superb cycling the puck well and generating chances. Especially the small but speedy Tedenby, who ironically donned No.9 reminding of another current Devil. So, plenty to like there.

Also standing out was defenseman Oliver-Ekman Larsson, whose superb outlets led to half the Swede output. The prettiest of which was Petersson's second off a sweet one-touch drop pass from Svensson that was started by Larsson. The Russians had ample opportunities to tie after captain Nikita Filatov (CBJ) setup Petrov with the best coming off the stick of 17 year-old Yevgeni Kuznetsov, which Jacob Markstrom (Fla) calmly tucked away for one of his 36 saves. The Swede D played Filatov physical trying to take him out of the game. But he did get involved with the assist and also a couple of other chances, finishing with an assist, four SOG and plus-one.

Also impressing us were Vyacheslav Kulemin and Vladimir Tarashenko up front along with blueliners Maxim Chudinov and Dmitri Orlov. A shame that Evgeny Grachev isn't getting to experience this great tournament, instead learning on the ropes at Hartford.

In the early game, the Czechs rolled over Austria 7-1 to get their first win. Vladimir Roth had four points (1-3-4) while Tomas Kubalik and Andrej Nestrasil each had a goal and two assists. Robert Kouzal added a goal and helper. Later today, Finland takes on Austria and the Swiss battle Latvia for a chance to pickup a victory. We're keeping an eye on New Year's with not only the USA/Canada clash but Swe/Fin and Cze/Rus with Switzerland taking on Slovakia and star Tomas Tatar (Det).

The competition should get better. So, if you want to catch some of the future, check it all out on NHL Network in The States.

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