Should be a good day for Jr. Hockey.
Day 5 at the World Juniors is one to watch. At least on paper, it is. Three of the powerhouses play today. Host Canada and the Team USA both face tough tests and team Russia gets a powder puff. The action begins at Noon EST (9 am Here in Hawaii).
Game One: USA 1-0-0-1 vs Czech Republic 1-0-0-1
The Czech’s are coming from the stunning upset of Team Russia where they played Russia’s game better than Russia. The Czech’s held on to the puck and bottled up the neutral zone. Goaltender Lukas Parik who made 30 saves for the shutout, should start today. The game was a far cry from the 7-1 drubbing the Czechs took in game one against Sweden.
Team USA has had two days off since blowing out team Austria 11 to nothing. Dustan Wolf has yet to allow a goal. Spenser Knight considered the best goalie prospect from America since maybe Ben Bishop had an off game against the Bears. In my opinion, this should be Knight’s start, but I would put him on a short leash.
The first goal in this game will be much sought after. Look for this to be a good match up with the outcome in question.
Game Two: Canada 2-0-0-0 vs Switzerland 0-0-0-2
On paper, this should be an easy game for the boys up North. They do not play on paper though. While the Swiss team is winless in two games, they have only given up 5 goals. The swiss are looking to break out and may have an opportunity in this game. Team Canada is eighth in the ten-team tournament on the penalty kill. The Canuck-ers’ (I use that term with endearment) have been shorthanded eight times giving up three goals. 62.5% will eventually bite you in the ass if you are not careful.
Look for the Swiss team to try and get physical with Canada and getting the northern boys to take a bad penalty or two. This could be either a great game to watch or a blowout. I would really like to see the former.
Game Three: Austria 0-0-0-2 vs Russia 1-0-0-1
Astronomical does not even come close to explaining the chance Austria has of beating the Russians. Austria who has never won a game in the World Junior Championship Tournament, (they do have a tie) has only taken 16 shots in 2 games. While the Austrians are simply happy to be here and want people to know they do not have Kangaroos there, they face an extreme challenge in just getting shots off.
Since goal differential is counted, and the Americans whipped up on Austria 11-0 look for team Russia to bounce back from being upset by assaulting the net. The Russians will be facing undefeated Sweden on New Year’s Eve, and a second loss could mean a quarter-final match-up against either Finland or the Host Canada.
This is Russia’s chance to make up some ground in the standings. I look for them to annihilate the Austrians and take over second place in the group.
Blackhawks lose Captain Jonathan Toews
Just a day after learning top prospect and future leader Kirby Dach to wrist surgery, Team Captain Jonathan Toews announced he is fighting an unknown medical condition and will be out indefinitely. The 32-year-old center released a statement that he is experiencing symptoms that have left him feeling “drained and lethargic.” Ha also stated he is “working with doctors so I can better understand my condition, Until I can get my health back to a place where I feel I can perform at an elite level and help my team, I will not be joining the Blackhawks for training camp. I do not have a timetable for when I will rejoin the team. I am extremely disappointed, but it wouldn’t be fair to myself or my teammates to attempt to play in my current condition.”
Being a Blues fan, even I feel for him. I also deal with the same affliction and know the horrible thoughts this can put in your head. I do not wish that even on the Blackhawks Captain. Well????
Till next time Hockey FANS.
Don’t forget to drop me a comment or three.
Remember by a fan, for the fans, and most definitely About YOU the FAN.
Guy “Hawaii Blues Fan” Bensing
Photo credit: Twitter, NHL.com