Saturday, April 16, 2005

 

Quick Hits from the Hockey Bong

Congrats are in order for Ottawa's Jason Spezza, who scored himself the AHL MVP award.

Before Sidney Crosby, Jason Spezza was the seen as the 'next one'...that was until Ilya Kovalchuk came along and overtook him in their draft year (2001). Although the level of hype didn't reach Crosby levels, Spezza was compared to Mario Lemieux for his combination of size and playmaking.

Since then, Spezza has had a bit of a bumpy ride to stardome. He struggled at the World Junior Championships, found himself traded twice in the OHL, and was often critized for what others perceived as 'cockyness' (Just because a kid is outgoing and not always full of cliches does not make them 'cocky')

If Jacques Martin wasn't playing stupid mind games with him and benching Spezza for looking at him the wrong way, Spezza was buried behind the Sens depth at center. This past season would have been Spezza's 'breakout' year for sure, but we'll have to wait another year to really see him wreak havoc on the NHL scoring charts.

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The World Under-18 Championships are under way in Plzen and Ceske Budejovice of the Czech Republic. You can find out more information on the official homepage here.

Canada began the tourney with a 2-1 squeaker win over the frustrating Germans.

As usual, the Germans exhibited little offensive confidence and played the 1-4 trap to frustrating near-perfection. This means, unfortunately, that the Germans will continue to play this style for the rest of the tournament.

These tournaments often give the younger IIHF officials a chance to develop some experience. The arena in Ceske Budejovice also seemed to give a 17 year-old kid a chance to develop experience as the arena announcer. I don't think I've ever heard an arena announcer's voice crack before...(If you watch The Simpsons, think of that zit-faced youth who works at the fast food places).

...and yes, the Slovaks have the tournament's tallest player (Vladimir Mihalik is 6'7") and it seems to be an organizational policy to take 'tall' forwards. Many Slovak pundits worry that the Slovak federation is too worried about size over skill (Well, many NHL scouts are, after all) and the Slovaks will have a very tough time winning games. So far, the Slovaks are down 1-0 to the Czechs, they barely tied Denmark 1-1 in an exhibition game, and they lost their first game to the USA.

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Slovan Bratislava and Zvolen will party for all of the marbles as Game 7 goes tonight in Zvolen. Vladimir Orszagh really put the hurt to Lubomir Visnovsky's ankle, and the two national teammates aren't exactly friends right now :)

Visnovsky, despite the hampered ankle, did score last game and has been still effective in limit the chances of the Orszagh-Handzus-Zednik 3-headed monster.

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World Championships

1. Scott Walker was the last man added to Team Canada's roster. That means no Todd Bertuzzi (*big sigh of relief*)

2. Russia announced its training camp roster.

Canucks fans find it incredibly strange that Fedor Fedorov was named to the preliminary roster, but Artem Chubarov was not. Chubarov, despite his incredible offensive limiations, is a very reliable defensive forward and a good skating footsoldier. Fedor, on the other hand, is a useless sack of skin.

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