Tuesday, December 28, 2004


Rollin' Along at the World Junior Championships

Was it supposed to be this easy for Canada?

Canada 8 - Sweden 1 -> Imagine the school bullies/jocks stealing a textbook from a nerdy kid and then passing it amongst themselves while the nerd tries in vain to get it back. That, my friends, is exactly what Canada did to poor Sweden.

Oh, it was 1-1 after the first period. Canada outshot Sweden 16-4 and there was a bit of doubt creeping in my mind.

"Please don't let it be one of those games where Canada somehow manages to lose despite playing great hockey."

After a 4-0 2nd period, the game really wasn't in any doubt. Through 2 exhibition and 2 regular games, Canada has outscored the opposition by a 26-4 margin. Is there really a large divide between the Big 4 (Canada, Russia, USA, Czechia) and everyone else? The action we have seen thus far would indicate that.

Sidney "Nextzky" Crosby made some waves with 2 more goals, and some waffling about whether or not he'd play in the NHL with replacement players.

"If there is an NHL with replacement players, I think for me to be involved and to say that I would play in the league is not true," Crosby told TSN. "If the NHL is the real NHL with the best players in the world, for sure I want to play in it but at the same time, if it's a league of replacement players, it's not the real NHL. And with all the things going on right now with players and owners, it's not right and I don't think I'd be playing in a league like that."
Listen, I'm as much as a free speech buff as Larry Flynt, but can't we have a ban on CBA questions during the WJC? These kids really don't need to put up or think about labour wars. Not only that, but why hasn't Crosby's agent told him not to comment on anything to do with the CBA? Just say "I don't want to comment on that". Simple. Boring. Effective. Stay out of trouble, kid!

A couple of notes about Canada:
1. Jeff Glass back in net? Usually the 2nd game (against an easier team) is the chance for the backup to get a start. Glass wasn't bad in this game, but he still makes me nervous.

2. Canada will run into problems later in the tournament if it keeps giving up Power Plays like it has been. Canada has given Sweden and Slovakia quite a bit of time on the 5-on-3, and they have been fortunate/good that it hasn't hurt them. The better teams like Russia will make Canada pay for a lack of discipline. I can imagine coach Sutter is throwing a few f-bombs to the kids right now about this very subject.

Canada vs. Germany today. If the Canadian squad doesn't get too complacent, this could be a double-digit whopper.

Slovakia 2 - Finland 0 -> I feel much much MUCH better now that Slovakia racked up their first win of the tournament. Jaro Halak only had to make 19 saves for the shutout while Andrej Meszaros scored an empty-netter to put himself on the board. I'm glad the Slovaks were able to play a much tighter defensive game after Canada ripped them apart like a Hulkamania T-shirt.

Russia 4 - Czechia 1 - Despite all of the hype Alex Ovechkin has received coming into the 2005 draft, he hasn't really been blowing away the world at the WJC's. While Crosby is a year younger and does have superior linemates, Ovechkin was supposed to be the greatest thing since X-ray goggles. What's going on?

USA 6 - Switzerland 4 - The USA managed to escape this high-scoring affair with the denizans of the Neutral Zone.
For all of the good hub-bub surrounding Robbie Schremp making Team USA, it really sucks to see him buried on the 4th line, drinking Gatorade and warming the bench.


Meanwhile, back in Czechia...

1. HCO Trinec is in 2nd-to-last place without any real hope of a playoff spot, but they haven't stopped trying! Trinec has managed to get Tomas Kloucek from Slavia and they replaced coach Pavel Marek (gave him a demotion/promotion, actually) with Slovak L'ubomir Pokovic (an assistant with the national team). Of course, Trinec lost 4-1 to Liberec (and 3-1 to Hame Zlin today)...so some things never change :(

2. Milan Kraft - In 2000/01, I was helium-high on Milan Kraft. He ripped apart the AHL with 44 points in 40 regular season games and 19 points in 14 playoff games as the Wiles-Barre/Scranton Penguins went on to the Calder Cup Finals. It looked like Kraft was poised to take the place of Lemieux and Lang as they moved on. In fact, I wanted Kraft so much for my fantasy team that I basically traded a high first round draft pick (which was Stanislav Chistov) and Tomas Surovy to get my hands on him.

3 lukewarm NHL season later, and Kraft has pretty much eroded all of the confidence I had in him. After spending most of the season with his hometown Plzen squad, they loaned him out to Karlovy Vary due to poor play. Kraft sits on just 14 points in 32 games, and, somehow, he managed to go pointless (and -1) in an 8-1 win over his old Plzen club!! How does that happen??

Aren't you glad I don't run your hockey team? :)

To finish off, here are the stats from the last round of games...

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