by Corey Pronman
Andddddd we’re off! Four games down and twenty seven more to go (including the relegation round) here at the 2011 World Juniors/U-20’s.
Four games took place today; here are the final scores and shot totals with any player who had over two points noted:
Final Score: 4-3 Switzerland Shot Totals: 35-21 Germany
NY Islanders Nino Niederreiter: 1G and 2 Pts
Final Score: 6-3 Canada Shot Totals: 42-27 Canada
Blues Jaden Schwartz: 2A
Final Score: 7-1 Sweden Shot Totals: 46-11 Sweden
Predators Patrik Cehlin: 2G and 3 Pts
Flames Tim Erixon: 1G and 2 Pts
Oilers Anton Lander: 2A
2011 Gabriel Landeskog: 1G and 2 Pts
Blues Sebastian Wannstrom: 1G and 2 Pts
Final Score: 3-2 USA (OT) Shot Totals: 34-30 Finland
Some bullet point thoughts and notes from the day:
- Isles Nino Niederreiter provided a highlight reel goal versus Germany showing some very nice hands and finish.
- Habs Louis Leblanc was impressive in this game, he didn’t have any wow moments but he was productive on just about every shift. His skating showed signs of being a plus tool, even though he has a weird forward lean that can cause some balance issues. Showed a tremendous work ethic and penalty kill prowess.
- Blues Tarasenko was terrific throughout the game, and he didn’t even show off his shot and skating tools to their fullest extent, which are arguably his best assets. He displayed nifty hands, playmaking ability, upper body strength and work ethic.
- Capitals Dmitri Orlov on the other hand has had better nights. He looked physically overmatched, and while he attempted to throw his body around Team Canada’s forward were way too strong for him.
- Kings Brayden Schenn may have been Canada’s best player, and that’s certainly not surprising by one of hockey’s elite prospects. He really doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses and there are so many good things about his game.
- Predators Ryan Ellis showed some terrific hockey sense in this game and I’m not even referring to his “bank goal” off Bobkov’s skate as he came back to press against the post. He consistently made smart plays all over the ice and was a terrific contributor for Canada. His work ethic was apparent offensively and defensively, which is what’s needed as due to his frame, reach and skating I have a hard time envisioning him being a pro-average player defensively.
- Capitals Evgeny Kuznetsov may have one of the most promising skill sets of any player in this tournament. He showed flashes of it in his game, but you also saw that the finer aspects of his hockey sense still need to come before he can take that next step. He’s bulked up by a fair amount since the last U-20.
- Predators Patrik Cehlin has come on as a late bloomer and this guy can really move. His skating tool could be considered plus and he handles the puck well at top speed.
- Red Wings Teemu Pulkkinen was filthy for Finland and was a treat to watch. His skating, especially for a smaller forward looked fringe-average at best, but the rest of his skills were terrific. His puck skills and shot both flashed plus, and his hockey sense was definitely at that level if not higher. In the offensive zone the second he got the puck it was off his stick and before you knew it there was a chance created.
- Stars Jack Campbell didn’t have his best game, but he showed partially why he was so touted and that’s in his demeanor and aggressive approach. Jack has never been afraid to challenge shooters, even if it meant coming feet out of his crease and not many goalies have the mentality to be able to do that. On the other hand, that aggressiveness backfired on one goal as the first shot hit off Campbell and if he would’ve been farther back he likely could have saved the goal as the puck ricochet in the crease area.
- Jason Zucker has been a scoring machine in college as a true freshman and you saw why tonight. His skating and shot tools are good enough to generate a scoring chance a game and he had a couple in this game, including a wicked wrist shot that picked the high short-side corner.
- 2011 big name prospects like Sean Couturier and Joel Armia were definitely hoping for better outings. Couturier wasn’t that bad, he got involved in battles and did the little things that he usually does, but really didn’t factor in many scoring plays. Armia was a ghost though for the most part of his game aside from one rebound chance that went wide.
- Ducks first rounders Kyle Palmieri and Emerson Etem both had great games in different ways. Etem was flying around the ice displaying his fantastic skating abilities and using it to forecheck his opponents well. Palmieri had a few scoring chances using his smarts, strength and on a rush made a terrific 1 on 1 move putting the puck between his legs and going around the defenseman but didn’t finish.
- Hawks Morin wristed a great shot that went top corner but it was called back due to a US player being in the crease. He showed some good hands and played well in the offensive zone for the most part, although he did make a couple of questionable decisions with the puck.
- NY Rangers Chris Kreider I think played better than any game I’ve ever seen of him. His passes were crisp and accurate, he played good defense, and he didn’t make any brain-dead decisions. We know he can skate like the wind and wire pucks, but if those finer aspects come for his game he can be one heck of a player.
Won’t have a blog post for the two games on the 27th, I’m going to do a joint post with the four games on the 28th.
Also side-note while the U-20’s are going on now, the World Under-17’s begin on the 29th. I will have a column on that after the World Junior madness dies down, but to anyone in Winnipeg, MB who is a draft nut but I recommend heading to the event. The World Under-17 Challenge is a major event for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and some the world’s best 94’ birth dates will be there.
I will also be tweeting relentlessly about the tournament here.