Thursday’s 5-1 loss to the US in the semifinals of the World Juniors is no doubt heartbreaking, especially if you are among the many who woke up early (or stayed up late) for all of the Canadian action. As the result settles in, here are 10 thoughts that have gone through my head in the 12 or so hours since the Canadian gold medal hopes were dashed.
1. John Gibson won the game for the US. No other reason than the goaltending clinic he put on against the Canadian shooters was necessary. He was in their heads, making them do things they wouldn’t normally do.
2. Ryan Strome will have Gibson in his nightmares for months. Hopefully Strome meets the Kitchener Rangers sometime soon and he came erase the demons of Gibson taking the game off Strome’s stick. The IceDogs centre had enough chances to single-handedly tie or win the game.
3. Malcolm Subban will get a lot of criticism, but three of the four goals were either unstoppable or would have been tremendous saves. The team in front of him wasn’t very good.
4. The coaching staff will no doubt get criticized for rolling with Subban and not giving Jordan Binnington a shot. Binnington looked good in relief, but Subban was great during the first US game as well as the Russian game and deserved the start.
5. Ryan Murphy and his gambling style seemingly modeled after PK Subban and Ryan Ellis didn’t translate very well and showed why he was hit and miss to make the team. He was supposed to be an offensive catalyst but when the chips were down he was a defensive liability.
6. For someone who many think would be in the NHL right now if it was not locked out, Dougie Hamilton left me expecting way more. He was largely ineffective at both ends of the ice.
7. The USA defence as a group were vastly superior to the Canadians at the offensive end, and in the transition game. That was reason #2 for the result.
8. There is no longer much to chose between the top four or five countries at this level. Makes the 5 straight Golds from 2005-2009 all that much more impressive.
9. Hopefully the Canadian kids can shake off the disappointment and at least come away with the Bronze when they face Russia on Saturday. Looking back, not having a Gold will be disappointing enough, but not having a medal at all would be worse. No Canadian player ever wants to be playing for Bronze, but they need to make the best of a bad situation.
10. My alarm is still set for 3:30 Saturday morning.