Ah, the World Juniors.
Despite the challenges leading up, the tournament has kicked off and has done so without a hitch – unless you talk to a member of Team Germany, then you may have varied opinions. Through just four days, the competition has already seen its share of blowouts, nail bitters, and most importantly, upsets.
Here are my thoughts on what has transpired so far.
For starters, here is the tournaments current standings:
Well, Canada is up to their dominant tricks again. Or are they? Sure, they put on a clinic against Germany – a team skating 14 players on back-to-back evenings -, posting a dominant 16-2 victory. Yet, if their match against the Slovaks taught us anything, it’s that this team still has many tweaks to overcome should they want to make a deep run.
Yes, with 19 first-rounders, they are undeniably strong and certainly have a high chance of taking home gold, but it’s not going to be a cakewalk. With great talent, comes great expectations and Canada simply did not deliver against the Slovaks, all things considered. Chemistry looked to be an issue for them and the ability to find high-danger opportunities was limited – the Slovaks did a great job keeping them to the perimeter.
No, it is not time to hit the panic button. Not even close. Opening the tournament with a 16-2 victory does not bode well for one’s tendencies, and surely does not promote a hard work ethic going forward. They will need to regroup and find a fire to ignite them as they head into their next match against the Swiss. I expect them to burst out with far better performance on Tuesday.
Dylan Cozens, who is NHL ready in my books, has been a rock. Yes, he has notched a tournament-leading seven points, but it’s his performance away from his statistical numbers that have truly stood out for me. He rarely has made mistakes, he’s played a terrific two-way game, and has made a strong case to earn a spot in Buffalo.
Here, he makes a game-breaking play, stripping the puck out of harm’s way before feeding it to Philip Tomasino to alleviate pressure and ice the game over the Slovaks. It’s plays like this that should have Sabres fans resting easy.
Of course, he can be flashy as well.