Wednesday December 26th
Canada and Germany are two teams that come into the tournament with very different goals. While Germany would be satisfied with simply avoiding last place and relegation back to the lower pool for next season, the Canucks have one thing on their minds – the Gold Medal.
QUESTION IN NET?
Malcolm Subban will get another chance to prove he deserves to be the starting goalie after looking shaky in selection camp and allowing a bad goal in the 3-2 loss to Finland in the club’s first pre-tournament games. Subban has been given the benefit of the doubt so far, but he needs establish his dominance right from the get-go to get his team’s confidence going forward.
Canada will be without third line centre Boone Jenner for the first three games of the tournament, suspended for a late hit on Swedish defenseman Jesper Pettersson on Saturday. Added to that loss, standout 17 year-old Jonathan Drouin sustained a leg injury at practice on Tuesday and his status is uncertain for the opener.
The Canadians have the advantage of opening against the weakest team in their pool, the Germans. Even without Jenner and Drouin, Canada should have no trouble dispatching Germany. The real test will come in the third game when they square off against the US on Dec. 30th.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Canada – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – The captain and the only player with a full NHL season under his belt, he was pretty quiet in the pre-tournament games. This was partially due to the constant parade to the penalty box by his club which limited the consistency of his ice time and didn’t allow him to stay active in the games.
Germany – Tobias Reader – The Kitchener Rangers forward will be a key to any offense the Germans can muster. He is one of half a dozen CHL players in the lineup, players that face the level of competition on a regular basis.
While Germany will no doubt try to play a stifling defensive shutdown game. It is likely the only chance they have. They cannot afford to get into an end-to-end track meet with Canada. However, it won’t matter, and Canada should outshooting the Germans by a margin of at least 3-1 and should threaten double-digits on the scoreboard.
Pool A – Latvia vs. Finland – Finland enters the tournament as a sleeper that could jump into the medal discussion after strong wins against Canada and the US. Michael Granlund and Joel Armia lead the Finns to battle in what should be a walkover for Finland.
Pool A – Czech Republic vs. Sweden – The defending champs have been ravaged by injuries on the blueliner prior to the tournament and will rely on goaltending and offense from Filip Forsberg and Victor Rask. It will be a test right out of the gate from the Czech’s who will be competitive but might not have the depth of the medal contenders. Sweden should take this one, but it could be closer than many people think.
Pool B – Slovakia vs Russia – Slovakia will pin their hopes of an upset on having chemistry, as 16 players on the roster play for the same club team. Russia will come out flying in front of their home country fans with a return to the top of the podium on their minds. Russia in a walk led by Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigerenko.
Set your alarms and get up early!