Earlier in the World Juniors I shared my notes on Team Canada during their game against Slovakia, and it was well-enough received that I thought we’d go for round two. As you know, Canada lost to the US 5-1 this morning, and frankly, they’re lucky the final score was that close. Needless to say, a lot went wrong – here’s how I saw things as the game progressed. Retroactive thoughts in italics.

First Period

  • Good pressure by the US in the early going, awkward start by Subban on JT Miller’s shot (welp, that turned out to be some foreshadowing)
  • My two favourite players from this tournament are Jonathan Drouin, and John Gaudreau from the US. That kid is nasty.
  • Canada kinda forcing plays early through the middle of the ice, not sharp (Don’t worry Bourne, it gets worse)
  • US Goal One: Boone Jenner completely bails on getting hit 200 feet from the Canadian net (“take the hit to make the play” is a thing for a reason), US breaks it out easy. Harrington catches an edge which creates chaos in coverage, and the mess leads to a completely screened shot that finds a way in. Not Subban’s fault.
  • First time in this tournament I’ve thought “Hey, that Seth Jones is really good”
  • Canadian forwards (Drouin in particular) cheating on breakouts means MORE turnovers
  • Uh oh Drouin looks really 17 today.
  • Canada just cannot complete a pass in the neutral zone, it’s gross
  • Note to self: write a column on panic play, falling behind, desperation and how it causes you to use teammates less, do more, and be less effective
  • US Goal Two: Nice simple breakout by the US, but Canada has numbers back. Problem is, Rattie and Strome don’t communicate about which high guys they’re taking (they defend an area of the ice, not a player), and a lucky bounce puts the puck on McCabe’s tape. Suban semi-screened, but less that perfect shot may have been stoppable
  • Canada still yet to maintain any meaningful possession time in the American end
  • US causing lots of turnovers in every zone. Wow.

 Second Period

  • US looks poised, less panicked. Canadian junior teams are definitely best built to play with a lead, not from behind. Especially against teams they desperately want to beat, like the US. (The pressure really piles on when you fall behind the US, in particular)
  • Was thinking this earlier in the first – I’d put Huberdeau back with Scheifele and RNH. He seems like a better fit in a game like this. Need more possession, less rush play
  • US Goal Three: Nightmare equation for Canada – the US’s niftiest player on a rush versus Canada’s worst defensive d-man, Ryan Murphy. And ho-ly, what a finish by Gaudreau
  • Oh man, Ryan Strome was all alone and made a great move to go five-hole, but this Gibson character is just fantastic. Canada needed that immediate response to the Gaudreau tuck
  • One long shift can toast your legs for the rest of a period – probably not great that Canada’s top line had a week-long shift in their own zone shift a quarter of the way into the second (wow 3:09 shift for RNH, who ends it w/ a slashing penalty. Happens to tired players a lot)
  • US Goal Four: Daaammmnn, that Jim Vesey chip. The US breaks it out easily again, and three Canadians are caught deep. But when Gaudreau gives it to Vesey, he chips the puck a tiiiny bit to get it over Ouellete’s blade (or at least help it along forwards), before making a great low blocker shot. I get why Subban is coming out of the game, but I can’t say I blame him much for the US goals today. Made some good saves.
  • Binnington’s made a few nice stops already, but still hasn’t provided any offense for Team Canada. Pff. Loser. (Seriously though, Canada is getting shelled now)
  • It is mind-boggling how little puck possession time the Canadians have had in the offensive zone. The US breakouts have been simple and crisp, and their D are out-working Can forwards (and this in a period where the RNH line has played like, 12-plus minutes)
  • Game’s getting a litttttle too open, even for a team trying to play catch-up

Second Intermission

  • Watching the Gaudreau goal again…how frustrated is Nate MacKinnon at this point? He jumps on after a shitty change, hustles back, gets a minus. Puck hops his stick in the slot later in the period. And on another shift, a linemate takes a penalty so he gets a short shift. Lotta bad luck for him in this tournament, hasn’t had a chance to use his skills.

Third Period

  • Mark Scheifele, man. This guy drives me nuts. I acknowledge he’s got talent, but what a stupid kneeing penalty to negate a much-needed powerplay Canada had coming.
  • One thing with Drouin: he’s capable of all sorts of nasty things, but sometimes you’d like to see him keep it safe and simple. He occasionally kills established zone possession by trying to go one-on-one (but as a coach, you risk being accused of stifling his creativity if you harp on it too much)
  • I like Ty Rattie – what a bomb off the crossbar, and he stayed with it…BUT – the whistle clearly blew, that goal can’t count. I mean, CAN’T. DID? WTF?
  • Huberdeau out with RNH/Scheifele now, and they have a great shift. I should really be a coach.
  • Gaudreau-my-god. That kid can finish. I get Canada is down so they want to play their offensive players, but please, please, quit using Ryan Murphy. Somebody make this dude a forward before it’s too late. That’s my only thought after US Goal Five.

I feel like that’s a good note to leave it on – good and negative. Not a whole lot to hang your hat on today for Canada. On to the bronze, then!