Well, here we are again. I have to admit I’m almost more disappointed that Canada lost in the semis and required us to play at 4 in the morning again than I am that we lost in the semis and denied our chance for gold. I am a selfish person. But while the drive for gold is gone, at least we can take our best shot at winning bronze. You know, the loser’s winner. We’ve beaten Russia before, we can do it again. I hope. Guess I’m awake either way.
*The Russians are starting Andrei Makarov in net with Andrei Vasilevski scratched. I know they’ve been splitting time but it’s an odd decision considering how well Vasilevski played in the semifinals against Sweden. He’s basically the reason that game even made it to a shootout.
*Morgan Reilly and Ryan Murphy are sharing a defensive pairing today. I…don’t get it. I guess when you can pair a scoring defenseman with a defenceman who can’t play defense, you just gotta do it.
*No Griffin Reinhart for Canada today, either, as he was suspended four games for his high stick/head slash/accidental swing thing. Not sure I agree with the suspension. Yes, it was a stick to the head and, yes, it was inches away from being a really horrifying play but I don’t believe it was intentional and the other guy was fine. Both Jenner and Lipon’s hits were far dirtier, I think.
*Steve Spott looks tired. I feel ya, buddy.
*I 100% do not blame Malcolm Subban for the loss to the States nor do I subscribe to any sort of “they should have played Binnington instead” theories. However, I do wonder if Canada should have started Binnington for at least one game in the round robin. Maybe one of the States or Russia games. Just to get a look at him and how he handles himself in a big game situation. Again, I’m not saying that he should have been started over Subban in the semifinals, I just think Canada could have done well for themselves to at least get a look at what else they had on their bench.
*Scheifele gets cut…somehow and heads to the dressing room to get looked at. I do not weep for his absence.
*Really weird goal. A weak shot on Binnington that he stops with the left pad that somehow trickled through behind him and into the net. Totally the start we needed. I already don’t like this.
*Boone Jenner takes a roughing penalty for a pretty obvious elbow to the face. Jenner has been uniformly solid for Canada since his suspension but this is the 3rd or 4th semi-dirty hit I’ve seen him lay on someone. Starting to wonder where his head is at.
*And on that power play, the Russians passing seems to have been found. Nail Yakupov (finally) buries a goal into an empty cage as the three Canadian defenders between Yakupov and Yarullin couldn’t get a stick on the pass. Canada’s defence is once again not super great. Steve Spott calls a timeout and this was absolutely what he should have done against the Americans after they went down 0-2. Live and learn, I suppose.
*Canada gets their first power play of the game 6:30 into the first and I’m starting to think that this is just the first of many power plays to come. For both teams.
*G-G-G-G-G-OALLLLLLLLLL (been waiting to do that for a week). The Nuge! I think he saw Yakupov do something useful and was like, “oh, we’re allowed to do that? Cool.”
*Jesus hell. Right off the draw, Diakov slaps a shot in from the point that beats Binnington and I guess we’re seeing why we didn’t start Binnington in the round robin (Yes, I know, this is not an indictment of what he is capable of). Subban is in. This is fun. A bronze medal game should be wide open and kind of batshit, I think.
*The Russian crowd is screaming every time the Russians bring the puck past center ice and it’s actually kind of great.
*Subban makes two fantastic saves. It’s almost like he feels he has something to prove. Don’t know where he would have gotten that idea. It’s also worth nothing that on both saves, Canada’s defense once again looked totally panicked.
*Khokhlachev (fun to say, fun to spell) knocks Huberdeau to the ice after the play and Canada’s back to the power play because that’s just what kind of game this one is.
*Huberdeau pots (another) power play goal to get the Canadians back within one. Huberdeau has been pretty great so far today and, man, he has some great hands. This tournament hasn’t really showcased his talents as well as many expected but, when he’s able/allowed to, he can do some pretty amazing things with a stick and puck.
*I just decided that Huberdeau’s nickname needs to be Saint-Huber. Also, Canada just took another penalty. I feel like I should just set up a cut and paste for the word “penalty” today.
*Subban continues to be Nyffler-good and everyone who has questioned if he is “the good goalie” should probably shut up now. I know you guys won’t but I can try.
*Horn sounds and it’s a 3-2 game. Somehow the horn didn’t get called for a penalty.
*Are IIHF intermissions shorter than NHL? Seems like this game started up again awful fast.
*Took a whopping three minutes to get our first penalty of the period. And Scheifele ties it up off a great feed from Nuge. About time, Scheifele. And he even stayed upright!
*Subban continues to be nothing short of phenomenal and I can’t tell if I think it’s because he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder or because there’s less pressure. Of course, as I was typing that, the Russians scored and now it’s 4-3. Okay.
*I SWEAR I just heard the Russian crowd start chanting “go Leafs go!” I mean, I probably didn’t, but I think I did. This may or may not have anything to do with it being 5 in the morning.
*Not surprising, considering the score, but this game is way more wide open than any other Canada has played in this tournament. Seems to be the first game that the Canadians have either gotten used to, or figured out how to use, the bigger ice surface. It actually looks like an IIHF game and not like a bunch of North Americans being confused by a larger surface area.
*Another powerplay, another goal. Ryan Murphy does something (finally) and launches a shot from the point to tie this game up at 4. I guess we’re just hoping for penalties.
*Subban just robbed Yakupov with the glove on a pretty incredible wrist shot. That entire sequence of events made me unreasonably happy. I don’t dislike Yakupov or anything, I’m just happy to see Subban making nice saves and it’s just a bonus if they’re on Russia’s (supposed) best player.
*Canada is really starting to take over in this game. They seem to be spending far more time in the Russian end than their own and, really, it’s about time. Canada is clearly the more talented team here, it’s nice to see them finally acting like it.
*And we head to Canada’s final period of this World Juniors tournament tied at 4. The third should be fun.
*Russia just seems to be a little busier around the net than the Canadians. There’s a lot more traffic in and around the net than the Canadians are showing. This isn’t news for this Canadian team but it’s going to become a problem before long.
*Well, there’s a power I didn’t know I had. Subban gets beat glove side and Russia takes the lead once again as Canada’s defence once againt leaves Subban out to dry. I’m starting to sense a pattern here
*An even strength goal!? What the hell? Brett Ritchie keeps Canada alive and gives Canada their first even strength goal of the game. It’s 5-5 and now this is starting to feel like a Canada/Russia game at the World Juniors.
*That goal seems to have woken Canada up a little bit as they’re finally taking it to the Russians and using their skill to make a difference on the ice. This is the team that we’ve been waiting to see for the entire tournament. Unfortunately, they can’t quite get that lone goal that they need.
*Is everyone else okay? Each post that was hit there was painful. So many chances. The game should have ended right there. You can’t give a team an opening like that in the World Juniors. Bury the puck in the back of the net, take the lead, and go home. Obviously, this kind of thing happens all the time but, in a game that has been as back and forth as this, it really feels like one of those things that’s going to come back to haunt us.
*Subban continues to impress, doing whatever is asked of him to keep this game going. Canada is throwing quite a lot at Makarov here but with nothing to show for it.
*Jenner had basically an open cage to end this thing in sudden death but couldn’t get good wood on it. Only so many chances Canada can miss before it comes back to bite them.
*Ryan Murphy gets beat on yet another defensive assignment as Valeri Nichushkin blew by him and juuuust tucked the puck under Subban’s pad. Game over. Russia wins.
That was not how I expected that to end, though it is somewhat fitting for a team that hasn’t played up to their potential for the entire tournament. Questionable coaching and questionable defence spelled doom for Canada at this year’s World Junior tournament. Russia earned that one, though Canada could, and probably should, have won. Canada fails to win a medal at this tournament since the 1998 tournament and, after that tournament, proceeded to go on a tear and uttler decimate the World Juniors. Let’s hope history repeats itself. Hopefully 2013 acts as one giant wake up call and Canada comes back strong in 2014.