“I think we’re the best team.” – Seth Jones, Dec. 20, 2012
Of course the guy that everyone points to after the U.S. beat Sweden 3-1 to win its second gold medal in the last four years at the IIHF World Junior Championship (two more than Canada, for those scoring at home) is John Gibson. Hard to argue that he should have been anything less than tournament MVP.
He allowed just nine goals on 202 shots in seven games, good for a save percentage of .955 and a GAA 1.36. As he sparkled against the Canadians, he similarly shined against the defending gold medal-winning Swedes, making 26 saves on 27 shots. Not too many of those shots really troubled him as much as those in the semifinal did, and perhaps that’s to be expected, but nonetheless, he was the rock upon which Phil Housley built his gold medal-winning team.
What will get mentioned less often than Gibson, who really cannot be mentioned enough, is how well the U.S. defense played not only in this clinching gold medal game, but throughout the tournament. They gave up three goals just once, in a game in which they still beat Slovakia by six and barely broke a sweat. But those defenders earned their freight against Canada and, especially, Sweden. Jacob Trouba, in particular, struck me as being especially effective, not so much because he was diving to block shots like Mark Scheifele does at the slightest contact, but because he displayed an overwhelming amount of defensive awareness. The number of rushes he broke up with a quick stick and a little shove can’t be counted on fingers and toes alone, and that was more or less indicative of just how good the whole blue line was for the vast majority of the tournament.
Every team in the tournament votes for their own best three players. From the outside looking in, we tend to look at things like “boxcars” (goals, assists, points), but that doesn’t give the true value of a player to a team. They know which guys were most consistent within the team system, rallied the team when it was most needed, and did the little things basically only coaches and scouts care about. So, these should hold some merit. Here are the three best players on every team in the World Juniors, as voted by their teams:
Nichushkin scores a nice goal, taking the puck across the net (image: CBC)
Today’s final installment of “Bourne’s Notes” (at least until an NHL season starts) focused on Canada’s final game against Russia, in which the scoring chances were An Unreasonable Amount to All of Them. Congrats to Russia. As always, my post-game thoughts are in italics. Without further ado – because there’s a lot of them – here’s the muck that ran through my head while watching the game.
Canada looks more composed than yesterday, already had a little zone possession time (give it time, Bourne)
Aw, poor Binnington. I mean that sincerely. I mean, what the truck happened there, it got trapped under his pad and he pulled it in? That doesn’t normally go in on *anyone*
Russian fans whistle to complain. I kinda like it. If you cat call a Russian girl in North America, maybe don’t move in for a follow-up
Jenner seems to prefer giving than taking hits (as we all do), but that’s not the sign of a true “tough guy”
Oh my that Russian goal. Nice, but “sticks in passing lanes” may come up on the Canadian bench. Good for Yak. Was that his first goal of the tournament? (2nd)
You forget how often guys hit guys from behind, and their opponent is just prepared to take the hit and it isn’t a big deal. Sometimes it’s why the ugly ones happened. “I thought he was braced for it.” (Rattie’s done it twice in the first alone)
Nice to see RNH not let Yakupov get too big for his britches when they get to Oil camp by answering
Everytime the commentators say “Makarov,” I think of Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life post-Clarence. Y’know the scene, he’s looking for his car… “Muh kar, Muh kar?” (…Sorry, ignore me.)
Oh man, I feel really bad for Binnington. You know his parents are watching somewhere just heartbroken for their boy. Shot was through MacKinnon’s legs, who’s also had terrible luck
Haha, Huberdeau’s dive. Fuck, I really, really hate that garbage, he’s a big boy. Oh nice, and Scheifele mirrored the dive on the same whistle break. Wouldn’t it be better, long term, if we’re the team others think can’t be put to the ice? Scheifele’s the younger brother constantly tattling to his mom about his brother.
Huberdeau scores on an (earned) PP – I should clarify, really like his game, just didn’t like the dive. And credit where credit is due, great shot by Ryan Murphy (though it was his first point of the tourney I think, and he’s on the Canadian PP)
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.
"Can't believe Subban didn't have that first one." - A moron
As much as I, like other Canadians, want to forget yesterday’s thorough butt-fumble of a World Junior hockey game against the Americans, I was goaded into doing this by a couple curious minds: an analysis of Jake McCabe’s first goal, in which, at one point, the Canadians were in the above defensive “formation.” Five of the six on-ice Canadians are packed into a lane slightly wider than the net (and as you’ll see farther down, they get tighter), along with three Americans, putting eight of the 12 humans on the ice in an area about seven feet wide. Actually, if we feel like drawing those lanes down 200 feet, nine of the twelve were in there. Presumably, this was not the game plan before the puck dropped.
Let’s take it from the top. This is a bit of a long one because I have to mention what starts the US breakout down at the other end of the ice, and because, y’know, the whole thing is a mess. Boone Jenner, this is not your finest shift.
First, take a look at it for yourself, if you dare.
It all starts down at the far end. Boone Jenner, one of Canada’s most physical players, has a beat on the puck in the offensive zone (this is mid-video, during the replay about :35 seconds in). He’s on it.
This, to me, is a 50/50 puck. The problem, at least for Jenner, is that he’s probably going to get a touch on it first, which means he’s the guy who has to take the hit. Or, he could completely pull-up, forfeit the puck, and let US defenseman Mike Reilly grab solid possession and make a play. If he takes the hit there, at the very least there’s a puck battle and his linemate Phillip Danault can come in and help dig it out.
He pulls up. I know, it looks like he’s heading off to change, but I assure you, he’s not. You’ll see him again in a bit. Read the rest of this entry »