Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Gare Joyce of Sportsnet,
In a day jammed-packed with action at the World Junior Hockey Championship, here are some early scouting returns from the quarterfinals:
1) After the American loss to Russia in the quarters, a few NHL scouts were lamenting USA Hockey’s selections for its under-20 roster. It seems like at every world junior tournament it’s a sore point with scouts—they’ll say that good players get left behind because of politics rather than merit.
The one American player left behind who scouts most frequently cite is Michael McCarron of the London Knights. Said one scout (not affiliated with the Montreal Canadiens who drafted McCarron in the first round of the 2013 draft), “Based on last season I could see that they’d be down on him. McCarron really struggled. But he’s been really good this season. [The U.S. team] really didn’t have anything past their first couple of lines. Maybe McCarron wasn’t going to be a big difference maker, but he was better than guys on the third and fourth line.”
2) With the under-20s going to Finland next year, it might be a showcase event for Jesse Puljujarvi, a big 16-year-old right winger who looks like a lock to be a top-five pick in the 2016 draft....
Gare Joyce on Team Canada,
from Alan Muir of Sports Illustrrated,
• If the Russians have proved anything in this tournament it's their upsetting tendency to unravel at the slightest provocation. They barely held it together against a lightly talented Danish team, lost their composure after having a goal disallowed against Sweden, and were sabotaged by a slow start—just three first-period shots!—in a must-win New Year's Eve game against the Czechs. Much has been made of the coaching effort by Valeri Bragin, but this feels more like a personnel issue. The Russians are good, but they lack the swagger that's defined their recent teams. This group doesn't have a game breaker like Evgeny Kuznetsov or Mikhail Grigorenko who could exploit the slightest breakdowns by their opponents and take control of a contest, and that's removed Russia's margin for error. Get a goal on them early and this could become a blowout.
• Jack Eichel may be the poster boy for Team USA but I can't take my eyes off Auston Matthews, a player who seems to get a bit better with each passing game. The early favorite to go first in the 2016 NHL Draft has made a strong impression at the tournament, playing a solid 200-foot game and showing tremendous poise despite just having turned 17. He doesn't have the elite upside of Eichel or Connor McDavid but he plays a heavy game that will translate easily to the pros. Expect him to assert himself physically into this game early and be a handful even against Russia's big-bodied defense.
more plus other hockey topics...
Watch the stream below, puck drops just after 1:00pm ET...
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
A game between Canada and the U.S., one of the top rivalries in the sport. A clash pitting Connor McDavid against Jack Eichel, the sport’s top two blue chip prospects who are slated to go first and second in the NHL entry draft come June.
The setting: Montreal’s Bell Centre, arguably the premiere stage in the sport. And on New Year’s Eve, no less.
So, how can it possibly play out that there were about 3,000 empty seats for this game, a 5-3 Team Canada victory that produced all the thrills and spills you could possibly ask for in a hockey game?
Simple: price gouging.
added 10:48am, from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,
The puck drops just after 4:00pm ET in this much anticipated game.
Both teams are assured of moving on to the quarter finals but it should be an enjoyable game to watch.
View the live stream below...
from Martin Merk of IIHF.com,
In Group A Canada, the United States, and Slovakia are already qualified. Canada and the U.S. will battle it out for first place while Slovakia finished the group in third place.
Finland and Germany will have a head-to-head battle for fourth place and the last berth in the quarter-finals for the Montreal-based teams. The loser will have to play in the best-of-three relegation series in Toronto against the bottom team of the other group.
Sweden is already the winner of Group B in Toronto and will play its quarter-final game at the same venue against Finland or Germany. Russia is also qualified for the quarter-finals, and its final position in the group will depend on the game against the Czech Republic. The Czechs (in the last game against Russia), Switzerland (in the last game against Sweden) and Denmark (which has played all of its games) will battle for the two remaining spots in the quarter-finals.
note- USA/Canada puck drops at 4:00pm ET today, KK will have the live stream up and running around that time.
added 9:11am, from Gare Joyce of Sportsnet,
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
Fans and media will focus on Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, the two can’t-miss, hotshot NHL prospects who’ll go head-to-head with each other on New Year’s Eve when Canada plays the United States at the world junior hockey championships.
Scouts, however, will be looking elsewhere.
“There’s other guys (beside) Jack and Connor,” said a scouting director of an NHL team. “There are probably 20-plus guys at this tournament who will get drafted.
“It’s certainly worth it. You never know who can slip and slide up or down the draft. You better be in a position to make the right decision.”
This tournament is chock full of draft-eligible prospects, none of whom are particularly concerned that McDavid and Eichel are getting all the attention.
from Irene Thomaidis of the Toronto Sun,
With the world junior in full swing, the hype around Team Canada phenom Connor McDavid is hitting another peak.
And what bigger hype machine is there than Twitter to document the interest in the Newmarket native — or the tournament in general.
“The world junior is really a perfect storm in terms of driving conversation on Twitter,” Twitter Canada’s Christopher Doyle said. “It’s Team Canada’s best young hockey stars taking on the world, in front of a large national TV audience during the holidays.”
Slovakia is 1-1 so far while the USA is 2-0.
The game starts just after 4:00pm ET from the Bell Centre and can be watched below...
The puck drops just after 8:00pm ET from the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Germany lost their first preliminary game yesteday to Canada 4-0 while the USA defeated Finland 2-1 in a shootout on Friday.
Watch the game below...
Don Cherry and Ron MacLean discussed- results are come from how you dress in hockey, a bad hit by Nail Yakupov and some WJC talk.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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