Jonathan Willis

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Backhand....Shelf, maybe?

Backhand Shelf will be running a daily recap of the major stories and events during the World Junior Championship thanks to our man on the ground in Alberta, Jonathan Willis. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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Low-Ranked Teams Crush Lower-Ranked Teams

 Both component states of former Czechoslovakia were in action, and both faced off against the two teams most likely to be headed for relegation.  And while there’s a clear gap between the talent between the big teams in this tournament and the more middle of the pack entries, that same gap exists between the teams at the bottom and the teams in the middle.

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Backhand Shelf will be running a daily recap of the major stories and events during the World Junior Championship thanks to our man on the ground in Alberta, Jonathan Willis. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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It was a good night for the favoured teams, as all of Canada, the U.S., Sweden and Russia won their contests – all save the Russians by lopsided scores.

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Backhand Shelf will be running a daily recap of the major stories and events during the World Junior Championship thanks to our man on the ground in Alberta, Jonathan Willis. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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 There were many questions worth asking at Canada’s Christmas Day practice, but the one at the top of every mind was which goaltender would get the start for the Canadian team.

Don Hay, the head coach of this year’s entry, has already made his decision.  But making a decision and making a decision public are two very different things, as Hay proved when he declined to identify which goaltender would get the nod between the pipes for Canada.  Hay’s playing his cards very close to the vest – even the goaltenders don’t know who will be starting in net at this point.

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The Anaheim Ducks were a favourite dark horse entering the playoffs last season – despite their lack of depth in all positions – because of their wealth of high-end talent.  Up front, the line of Perry, Getzlaf and Ryan is as dangerous as any in the game, while on defense the top pairing of Lubomir Visnovsky and Toni Lydman offered superb play in all three zones and offensive punch.  All five players return for 2011-12.

In a perfect world, that high-end talent will extend to net, where Swiss goaltender Jonas Hiller has been a franchise-level talent since joining the Ducks in 2007-08.  Unfortunately, it is far from clear that Hiller will be able to play for a full season.

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In the summer of 2007, Kyle Turris was one of the most desirable prospects in all of hockey.  He had just completed a season in the BCHL, one where he had posted a staggering 66 goals and 121 points in a mere 53 games.  The Hockey News ranked him as the third-best available prospect for the 2007 Draft, and in their profile of him hyped his tremendous skill while sounding a prescient note of caution:

There was talk in the scouting community that had the Philadelphia Flyers won the first overall pick, they would have used it to select Kyle Turris, an offensive wizard who has drawn comparisons to Joe Sakic and Dany Heatley… but at 6-feet and 170 pounds, Turris has a lot of bulking up to do in the next couple of seasons… whoever gets him needs patience.

As it turned out, it was the Phoenix Coyotes that ended up holding that third overall selection, and it was the Coyotes that used it to draft Turris.  The patience was less noticeable, though.

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Brendan Shanahan Suspends Letourneau-Leblond

Brendan Shanahan still needs to announce disciplinary action against Philadelphia Flyers forward Jody Shelley, but he has made a ruling on Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond’s hit from behind in a game against the Vancouver Canucks last night.  Not only has he made a ruling, but he’s done so in stunning fashion.

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Maple Leafs Demote 23 Players

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The Toronto Maple Leafs, prior to this afternoon, were running one of the biggest training camps in hockey: 70 players, all ostensibly vying for NHL jobs.  With a single press release, all of that changed, as the club axed 23 hopefuls and brought their roster down to a more manageable total of 47.

Who got sent out?

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