Saturday, January 01, 2005

World Juniors prepare for playoff rounds

Much is being made of Canada's injury situation. Too much in fact. Have a gander at what TSN is saying today, the day before Canada squares off in its first do-or-die situation against the Czechs or Fins.
Injuries are threatening to do what no team has been able to accomplish thus far at the world junior hockey championship — derail Team Canada's gold medal hopes.
Hardly. Granted, Cam Barker being diagnosed with mono is somewhat of a loss, but he is the only 18-year-old defenseman on this team and wasn't playing on the top two pairings. The other 'threatening injuries' that the media have referred to are a light shoulder strain to Brent Seabrook and Jeremy Colliton's continued absense with a sprained knee. Seabrook has yet to miss a game and is said to be fine for tomorrow, and Colliton, at best a role player on this squad, hasn't even played a game yet. So much for pressing injury concerns.

The thing is, there isn't much of a story for the Canadian team until they (finally) start playing in a game that matters. Canada has outscored its weak opposition 32-5 through the tournament's first four games, piling in a ridiculous number of meaningless goals against WJC lightweights like Germany. It's almost too bad, however, that Canada's round robin grouping is so weak, as the team won't get a true test of its measure until they are in an elimination game. For all the confidence that these blowout wins have given this team and its fans, it will mean little if the Czech Republic manage to eke out a slim victory tomorrow.

Canada has to refocus entirely for the semifinals, as one poor game and they will be remembered as the greatest team that wasn't. That, and not some minor injury problems, is the narrative for this team.


At 11:53 a.m., January 01, 2005, Blogger arash said...

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At 5:26 p.m., January 01, 2005, Blogger Jes Gőlbez said...

Now Now now, don't get cocky.

Canada is down to 12 forwards and 6 dmen, so any further injuries would leave them shorthanded overall.

Barker is a fine defenseman and was doing great things on the Power Play. To simply discount him as a '3rd liner' is to discredit his good performance to date.

Canada has had it so easy that it's only natural to get concerned when trouble starts to pop up just before Canada has to face the top teams.

At 5:43 p.m., January 01, 2005, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Don't get cocky you say? This from the fellow who predicted Slovakia would beat Canada in the round robin game. :)

Sure, Barker's a great defenseman, but so are the other six players. At most Canada has two games remaining, and it wouldn't be much of a stretch for these elite athletes to play those games with say three lines and five defensemen.

At 11:45 a.m., January 02, 2005, Blogger Jes Gőlbez said...


I prefer Bold, Hopeful, and Crazy :)

If Canada manages to lose a dman early in any of the games, it could hurt them big time in the 3rd period.

Anyway, I'd like to think that TSN and other media need to create some drama. With Canada rolling over everyone, there has to be some intrigue and makes victory that much sweeter.

Today's Prediction: 4-2 Canada

At 7:02 p.m., January 02, 2005, Blogger James Mirtle said...

"If Canada manages to lose a dman early in any of the games, it could hurt them big time in the 3rd period."Teams can only dress twenty skaters a game, so if any team loses a defenseman early in a game, they'll be playing with five defenders by the third period.

At 9:35 a.m., January 04, 2005, Blogger Jes Gőlbez said...

In the WJC any IIHF tournament, teams can dress 22 players in any game (plus the 3rd emergency goalie), compared to 20 in the NHL. The IIHF allows for 4 full lines, so these teams get a 4th defense pairing, or 2 extra players to dress. My buddy from the IIHF confirms this for me.

Check any boxscore and you'll see.

At 10:43 a.m., January 04, 2005, Blogger James Mirtle said...

I did not know that. You got me!

I still say Canada's injuries mean little. Guess we'll see tonight.


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