Archive for the ‘2013 World Juniors’ Category

landeskog stastny

Backhand Shelf’s previews for the 2013-14 NHL season are going to work like a choose your own adventure novel, because fans only hear what they want to hear anyway, so we might as well embrace it.

You’ll get the flippant barstool prediction, the push-the-glasses-up-your-nose numbers take, the team is going to be good take, the team is going to be bad take, and then we’ll try to bring it back full circle at the bottom. Let’s get to it.

Click here for the previews you may have missed.

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Added: Patrick Roy, Nathan MacKinnon, Alex Tanguay, Cory Sarich
Subtracted: Joe Sacco, Milan Hejduk, David Jones, Chuck Kobasew, Greg Zanon

The Avs are going to be good

It took awhile, but the Avs have finally restocked the cupboard with top shelf talent. Gabriel Landeskog is a special hockey player. At only 20 years old he’s been named the captain of the club, as a guy who never stops working, can contribute offensively, and really, do anything you ask of him rightfully should be. He’s reliable. They’ve still got one of the league’s best young forwards in Ryan O’Reilly (speaking of all-around), and they’re still paying him nickels. They just grabbed the number one pick in the last draft, which means an instant injection of offense thanks to Nathan MacKinnon’s game. And frankly, the best player of the whole bunch might be Matt Duchene, who just signed a contract extension through 2019. Paul Stastny has some of the best vision in the league, and complimentary scorer P.A. Parenteau has more than proven his ability to produce at the NHL level without John Tavares (43 points in 48 games last season).

They’ve added life in the form of Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic, they’ve brought in Francois Allaire to help JS Giguere and Semyon Varlamov be all they can be, and those two get to play behind one of the more underrated d-corps in Erik Johnson (at $3.75 he’s a steal) and reliable guys like Cory Sarich and Jan Hejda. It’s really up to that back-end – if they can meet expectations, this dynamic team has a legit shot at being a playoff squad.

The Avs are going to be bad

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USA celebrates gold (image from USAToday.com)

The World Junior Vodcasts, sadly, have come to a close. Fortunately, we went out with a good long review of the medal games – hope you enjoy.

We hit on:

* Jordan Binnington’s tough start

* Yakupov’s great game

* John Gibson’s amazing performance

* Canada’s first non-medal since 1998

* And much more

 

You can listen to it here:

 

…and download it here.

You can't imagine how much fun we're having (CP)

“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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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:

(Click twice enlarge, clarify)

My personal top three for the tournament:  Read the rest of this entry »

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.

  • Boone Jenner’s first shift: doesn’t pull up on a 50/50 puck, wins it. Learned his lesson, perhaps?
  • 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)
  • Great start by Subban, wow. Way, way too many scoring chances in the first. Read the rest of this entry »

Image from TSN.ca

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

(Image courtesy www.Canada.com...oddly)

In today’s World Junior Vodcast, John Noon, Jake Goldsbie and I break down the gold medal game between Sweden and the US, and the bronze medal game between Canada and Russia, including:

* What gives the US the upper hand? Do they have one at all?

* Who’s favoured in the bronze-medal match-up?

* What are each team’s “keys to victory,” (as much as I hate that expression)

* Russia’s strengths and weaknesses

* Predictions!

* And oh, so much more. Enjoy!

 

You can listen to it here:

 

And download the audio here.