First Impressions from Team Canada at the World Juniors

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What was a shaky start turned into a 7-2 victory for Team Canada over the Germans in their tournament opener at the 2014 World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden. Brent Sutter kept a calm composure as Anthony Mantha would net a hat trick and lead Team Canada to a win. Jake Paterson was named the starter for the tournament, and we can only presume that Paterson will be given the #1 role over Montreal Canadiens prospect Zachary Fucale.

Paterson allowed the 2nd shot he faced in the game, letting in an arguably weak deflection that sifted through Paterson to give Germany the early lead. Paterson didn’t have much of a chance on the second goal against, but he was caught way out of his net. Offensively, Team Canada looked as good as ever, but Canada’s penalty kill and defines was questionable against a lesser skilled German team. Canada won’t face a huge challenge until New Years Eve, when they take on the defending champs from the United States.

Canada’s offence looked top notch against the Germans, leading to a 7 goal game for Canada. Canada’s biggest offensive producer was Anthony Mantha, potting a hat trick in his first world junior game. Mantha’s hat trick is the first Canadian hat trick since Mark Stone against the Finns back on

Mantha’s hat trick led Team Canada to Victory.

Boxing Day two years ago. Mantha was accompanied by 16 year old Connor McDavid, who looked outstanding in his first World Junior game. McDavid makes everything look so easy; he uses his speed and effortlessly skates past defenders, he has the best vision on the team and his stick work rivals the Pavel Datsyuks and Patrick Kanes of the world. McDavid generated a tonne of Canadian offence, even though he finished with two assists, he had three other prime scoring chances and could’ve finished with five or six points. The McDavid-Horvat-Reinhart line has been the best so far, and they were arguably the best 200 foot line for Canada, chipping in offensively and defensively. Josh Anderson and Nic Petan also found the back of the net against Germany. Canada’s defensemen also chipped in in the offensive zone today with some impressive rushes from Mathew Dumba, some great passes from Aaron Ekblad and some streaks of offence from Derrick Pouliot completed Canada’s offence. Team Canada shouldn’t be worried about their offensive production.

Canada’s defence and penalty kill however, does need work. A crucial turnover by Adam Pelech led to Germany’s second goal on the power play, simply due to trying to make a cute play in their own end and flunking it. There were some scary plays in their own end, but there is lots of time to fix

Aaron Ekblad was solid in the win.

their errors and it is the first game of the tournament, there are jitters to work out and a lot of the players may be nervous heading into the tournament, but the amount of tension only gets higher, and the defence needs to adjust and prepare for tougher opponents as the tournament moves on. Some highlights on defence came from Mathew Dumba’s impressive rushes that led to a Canada goal, Aaron Ekblad’s calm and composed game and Derrick Pouliot’s shines of offensive talent. Canada will look for improvements from Chris Bigras and Adam Pelech, as both defenders played small minutes and still made a negative impact on the game, with some crucial defensive lapses. Canada also allowed a power play goal, and a rather weak one to the Germans, and Team Canada will have to kill penalties against much tougher teams later in the tournament, and they will have to work on their PK.

Jake Paterson was given the start against the Germans over my consensus #1 Zachary Fucale, and Paterson delivered with a 22 save performance for the win. However, Paterson only faced 8 scoring chances in the game, and allowed two goals in the game. The first goal will be the most scrutinized,

Jake Paterson was good, but not great.

as a fluttering puck passed through a wave of players and took a light deflection to sneak through Paterson’s 5-hole and give Germany the lead on their second shot, 90 seconds into the game. Paterson would battle back, but not before allowing another goal on the power play. Although Paterson didn’t have much of a chance at all, he was still caught way out of his net and clueless as to where the puck was. I still think Paterson still had a chance to at least make an effort to stop the puck. I expect Paterson to get the start once again against the Czechs. I suggest that Fucale gets at least one start before the New Years Eve showdown against the Americans. I believe Fucale will exceed expectations if he’s given a shot, but that’s up to Brent Sutter to give him that chance. It’s not a definite #1/#2 like last season where Malcolm Subban was the clear #1 goalie headed in. It was a good start for Paterson, but it could’ve been better.

Overall, it was a good start for Team Canada to open the 2014 World Junior Championships, but there will be improvements needed for Canada to compete against the tougher competition in the tournament. Anthony Mantha’s offensive production does provide some hope for the rest of the tournament, but he’ll need some help from the McDavid-Horvat-Reinhart line, which has succeeded thus far in the tournament. Canada’s defence needs the biggest overhaul, as some crucial turnovers and defensive lapses lead to German scoring chances. Competition will only get tougher from here on, and Team Canada needs to step up their game if they want to go all the way. However, Canada shouldn’t be ashamed of their performance to open the tournaments and take away as much positives as possible and continue their momentum heading into their next game against the Czech Republic in two days.

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