Canada wins gold!
Canada just won gold, 5-0 over the ‘dominant’, ‘powerhouse’ Russians. The win didn’t surprise me. Canada’s strong, gritty play didn’t surprise me. It was all the doubting that people did of Canada that confused me. Watching the tournament, a couple of people on this board should be very excited about who is coming up from the minors. Phil Kessel
Kessel didn’t impress me. Yeah, sure he had 10 points, but he had half of those against such Hockey powerhouses as Norway… Beating up on weak teams does not make you a great player. A talented player, yes, but it doesn’t prove you have the heart to be great.
Another top offensive player but the underrated Canadians completely shut him down. In fact, Malkin had a terrible game. Offensive superstar or not, nobody is too good to play defence and if you aren’t getting anything done offensively (what did he get, 3 shots?) start throwing your 6’3 frame around.
For those of you surprised the Canadian’s beat the Russians: It was all down to heart and soul. Canada is famous for it.
Canada Wins Gold
editors note: Wow – what an article
Chalk up another win for the Canadian National Junior Team. With a 5-0 win over Russia tonight, the team claimed gold for the second consecutive year.
Despite the Russians and Americans being heavily favored to win due to many returnees and teams loaded with skill, it was the lunch pail gang led by coach Brent Sutter who prevailed.
Lets take a look at the gold medal squad that got it done.
Brent Sutter – the guy is 12-0 in this tourney over 2 years. He went from guiding a sick all star laden team last year to a blue collar defensive team this time around and never lost a beat. Not favoured to win, he was able to bring these 22 kids together and put together yet another unbeatable team. I hope he comes back next year.
Justin Pogge – This kid stole the show. 3 shutouts. A record shutout streak to end the tourney and only 1 even strength goal allowed. In fact, only one goal was scored against him that wasnt a screen shot or tip in. That is incredible. The Toronto Maple Leafs organization should be buoyed by the fact that they had the two top goalies in the tourney. Pogge and Tukka Rask from Finland.
Devan Dubnyk – Didnt play one minute but was a model team guy who knew his role and did his job taking shots in practice and in warmup. He beat out Carey Price for the job and that should give him a boost in confidence. His rights belong to the Oilers.
Luc Bourdon – one of my new favorite players. He can hammer guys, rush the puck, fire a booming shot and be a steady performer in his own end. He reminds me alot of Jovocop. That is fitting since his rights belong to the Canucks. He led the Canadian defence in points and was a major crowd favorite in Vancouver. How the Habs passed up on this guy in the draft i will never know.
Marc Staal – The tourney’s top defenceman. He was a horse. He shut down Lauri Tukkonen, he shut down Phil Kessel and he shut down Evgeny Malkin. He not only pounded them into the ice and into the boards but he used excellent positioning, smarts and poise to shut down the big guns. He has become the steal of the 2005 draft in my book. Great pick by the Rangers 12th overall.
Ryan Parent – If Staal was the steal of 2005, then Parent is a close 2nd or 3rd. He was equally as good as Staal providing Canada with a top shutdown pair on defence. He was equally physically dominating and in perfect position most times. What a pick by the Preds 18th overall. He will be top shutdown guy in the NHL someday.
Cam Barker – The lone returnee from 2005 did a fine job on defence. He combined his size and strength with his fine puck moving skills. He did a good job getting pucks on net and help jumpstarting the offence for Canada. He was also never scored upon in the whole tournament. I think that is unheard of for a defence pair to never be on for a goal in 6 games. He has already made it to the NHL with the Blackhawks. Lets hope they dont ruin any more young players there.
Kris Russell – a fine puck moving offensive blueliner reminiscent of Ian White who played for Canada a few years ago. He joined Barker as the only Canadian defence pair to not get scored on. It helped that they are teammates in the WHL. He is small but played fiesty and despite his lack of size, never hurt the team in his own end. The Blue Jackets own his NHL rights.
Kris Letang – Bourdon’s ex-teammate in the “Q” was another smallish blueliner whose job was to be a puck moving blueliner. Him and Bourdon were the team’s top PP pair on defence. He was a strong 6th defenceman as he brought the group solid chemistry and skating. The Pens own his rights.
Sasha Pokulok – He barely played as the team’s 7th D but was a fine team guy who filled admirably in a limited role. he was there for depth and never complained. I think he can return next year which would probably bring him a greater role. The Caps own his rights.
Steve Downie – The heart and soul of the team. If there was any player on Canada who was as close as you could get to a “Sutter Brother” it’s Downie. He was simply put, awesome. He was a checker matched against the other team’s top player. He was a agitator getting under the skin of opponents especially in the gold medal game. He was a scorer often found on the PP and putting his small frame on the line in the trenches. and he was physically punishing hitting anything that moved. If Bobby Clarke’s intentions were to draft himself in the amateur draft, I think he did with this kid. Off ice troubles aside, this guy is going to be a heck of a player.
Dustin Boyd – This is another Sutter type who will eventually play for another Sutter, Darryl in Calgary. He was quite the all purpose forward. He killed penalties, played the PP, was a checker, and yet set the tone early in the tourney with some big goals. He is a bit unheralded being a later pick, but the Flames got themselves your typical blue collar Western Canadian Boy.
Blake Comeau – This guy will get a chance to follow in his coaches footsteps and be a leader, scorer, checker and all purpose player for Brent Sutter’s former team the Islanders. He may not end up as big of a point producer but he can get it done physically, be a leader, and fill in any role required. He has decent size that could make him a difficult player to play against.
Kyle Chipchura – The Captain was very Bob Gaineyesque in his performance leading by example, scoring timely goals, leading the PK, working the corners and doing all the little things that help teams win. He was the perfect choice as captain because he was steady, reliable. And that he was in this tourney. The Habs could use a heart and soul grinder like this guy now never mind in a couple of years. He was a great pickup by them and should be their future captain (if the fans dont mind him being non-francophone).
Andrew Cogliano – Perhaps on the bigger ice surface his impact would have been bigger. He was probably the fastest guy on skates in the entire tourney. But he didnt show off that speed as much as hoped. He was benched for a bit due to some indifferent play. But was key in the latter stages of the tourney using his speed to cause havoc. There was hope for some more production from him but really production was spreadout throughout the team. His speed and skills make him a perfect fit for the Oil.
David Bolland – Here is another player who probably was expected to produce more offensively. Perhaps a pre-tournament injury took some steam from his game. But he was still a solid performer who didnt hurt the team in his own end and produced some decent chances on the PP. He should be a solid versatile forward for the Hawks for years to come. Kind of reminds me of Kyle Calder.
Benoit Pouliot – If there was a disappointment on a team that went 6-0 and won gold, it’s Pouliot. He was expected to be the big offensive star but didnt score one goal. He seemed slow and awkward at times, physically dominating other times, and was dynamic here and there. But couldnt put it all together. He has the size, skating, reach, skill to be a dominant player but we didnt see it here in this tourney. I think he is eligible next season however his NHL team, the Wild may keep him with their own club next year like they have done with many of their youngsters.
Michael Blunden – The Hawks are hitting a home run with this team as Blunden is the 3rd of 4 Blackhawk prospects with Team Canada. He brings many similarities as current Hawk’s forward Eric Daze. He is a big forward who can be immobile in front of the net. He also comes with a history of back trouble. But he looked quite fine in the gold medal game scoring two goals in his “office”. he took punishment in front but simply was a man among boys there camped out at the edge of the crease. that is where his two goals were scored. He is a power type forward whose job is to score but what was impressive was his defensive game and how conscientious he was.
Dan Bertram – Hell on skates was this guy. Yet another Blackhawk prospect, he should be the kind of blue collar agitator who would remind people in Chicago of the glory days of the team when Hockey mattered there. Bertram never stopped moving his feet. His job was to provide energy and that he did with a big hit, creating havoc with speed or drawing penalties by outhustling his opponents. He isnt big but he can move and he will eat glass to make a play.
Tom Pyatt – He comes from a strong hockey pedigree with his brother an NHLer and his dad a former NHLer. He isnt as known as his brother was out of junior where Taylor was a very promising power forward type drafted in the first round. Pyatt is a grinder who was a mid round pick of the Rangers. Nowadays the Rangers are trying the build a team for now and later than just a bunch of bandaids made up of washed up former allstars. Pyatt is one of those guys that all teams should have to help win. he did alot of dirty work killing penalties, taking hits to make plays and going to the net hard. He scored an ugly goal but it really helped the team shake the nerves from struggling against Norway. See plays like that go unnoticed but i think Ranger scouts were watching and smiling at the same time.
Ryan O’Marra – If the Isles were looking to form a checking line for the future they may have found their centre to join winger Blake Comeau. O’Marra is another heady player who in the under 18 tourney last spring captained the team to silver and was one of the key cogs in the lineup. On this team he was the 4th line energy centre and filled that role perfectly. He was asked to hit, grind and use his size. he did that. you wont see the results on the stat sheet but he helped the team gather momentum. His hockey sense is very good which is why he can fill any role. Perhaps another possible future captain in the NHL. The Isles need players like O’Marra and Comeau to wake up the comatose team led by Cashin Yashin.
Guilliame Latendresse – Projected to be a physically dominating force offensively ended up as the team’s 13th forward. Towards the end he barely played. He took alot of bad penalties and didnt make alot of smart plays. When he didnt score either he ended up not playing. But he still is considered a draft day steal for the Habs who got him in the 2nd round.
Jonathan Toews – He should be the offensive catalyst for Canada in 2007 in Sweden. as the only 17 year old on the team he was the youngest, but far from out of place. He showed glimpses of the kind of promise he has and should be a top pick in 2006. All the talk was Phil Kessel but Toews used his decent size and reach to make plays but played a heady defensive game which is a surprise for such a young player. He should be a strong force in Canadian hockey for years to come.
Well there you have it, the 2006 gold medal winners at the World Junior Hockey Championships. If you dont think Canada isnt the best hockey nation in the world and that this country cant produce top players anymore then you should give yourself a shake. This year proved it yet again.