Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
Easy to see why Max Domi was named the tournament's top forward. It was a flashy performance by the Coyotes prospect, highlighted by explosive rushes, adroit playmaking, a couple of timely goals and a fair bit of the chippiness you'd expect to see from Tie's kid. He was truly exceptional....
If I learned anything from this tournament, it's that I want Curtis Lazar on my team. His heavy, north-south style of play speaks for itself, but this kid's value is multiplied exponentially by his intangibles. His intensity and commitment set the tone for Team Canada. And then there's the fact that he plays every shift like he's opening presents on Christmas morning....
When rumors surfaced that the Red Wings were circling Tyler Myers, it was believed that the Sabres were looking for a package that featured Dylan Larkin in return. If that's the case, you can see why Detroit politely declined. Playing on the third line, he was Team USA's most consistent and most effective offensive weapon, scoring five goals and seven points to pace the club. He plays a smart, physical game and has the upside to play a top-six role....
read on for more players...
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
Nothing has been finalized, and we are being told there are still several issues to be settled, but the NHL and NHL Players' Association are discussing a World Cup tournament field that would include USA, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic, plus a European All-Star team made up of players from other countries and a team made up of top young players from North America....
This plan would allow us to see Slovenia's Anze Kopitar, Switzerland's Roman Josi, Austria's Thomas Vanek, Norway's Mats Zuccarello, Germany's Christian Ehrhoff and a legion of Slovaks led by Zdeno Chara.
Out-of-the-box thinking is also how we landed on the idea of patching together a team of rising young stars to compete as the eighth team. Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon probably won't make the Canadian team, but he will be the No. 1 center on this team. Florida's Aaron Ekblad could be the top defenseman and Anaheim's John Gibson could be in net.
It's a creative plan to be sure, but would it make the World Cup a better tournament?
Of course not.
The public's love for country vs. country competition is well-established. Could you imagine soccer's World Cup embracing this idea?
from Andrew Podnicks of IIHF.com,
Loud, proud, and sold right out, the 19,014 fans who packed into the Air Canada Centre were treated to another special battle between the two greatest hockey countries. In the end, Canada withstood a fierce comeback from Russia to win its first gold since 2009 and 16th title overall.
"This is amazing," gushed captain Curtis Lazar. "I really wanted to help Canada get back on top, and everyone did their part. I was just along for the ride. We had the momentum; we let it sleip away a little bit, but we hung in there."
Lazar was quick to credit the Toronto fans who flocked to games both with Canada and without in remarkable numbers. "The crowd supported us and was with us every step of the way. They were so loud, and to sing the national anthem along with them was special."
Max Domi had a goal and two assists to give him ten points for the tournament, fourth in the scoring race behind three Canadian teammates who all had eleven – Sam Reinhart, Nic Petan, and Connor McDavid.
"We’re World Junior champions," said McDavid succinctly. It’s joy. Right now, this is just absolute joy."
Canada's last gold came on home ice in Ottawa in 2009, and the team is hoping to repeat that success in Toronto this year. Zach Fucale will get the start in goal for Canada.
"I really want them to just have fun and enjoy it," said Canadian captain Curtis Lazar. "We've worked hard to get to this point. The fans at the ACC have been awesome and I really want them to just get caught in the moment, kind of take a step back and soak it all in, because it's going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and opportunity for us.
"I feel like if we go out there and we play the right way, the way we can, we'll be able to get the job done."...
The Russians feel their tough road to the gold medal game could be an advantage as they take another unbeaten team – and a team yet to trail - in Canada.
"We had a couple of pretty hard games against the U.S. and Sweden," forward Ivan Barbashyov said after Russia's Sunday win. "We know how to play, and we'll be playing the same way we played today and two days ago."
The game is on NHL Network US and TSN1, TSN4, TSN5 and TSN GO. Pregame at 7:30pm ET, puck drops just after 8:00pm.
from Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com.
For the 14th time in tournament history, Canada will play against Russia in the gold-medal game of the 2015 World Junior Championship at Air Canada Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NHLN-US).
Each team earned a ticket to the final with semifinal-round victories on Sunday in Toronto. Russia defeated Sweden 4-1; Canada earned a 5-1 win against Slovakia.
"It's special; Canada and Russia, it's one of those great rivalries in hockey," Canada defenseman Josh Morrissey said. "It's always very intense. Hearing the fans chant 'Canada' and 'We want Russia' in the end was pretty cool, it's pretty inspiring."
from Martin Merk of IIHF.com,
Another topic for the media was the ongoing discussions between the IIHF and the NHL in particular for a continuation of the NHL’s Olympic participation for a sixth consecutive time since Nagano 1998 when the event goes to PyeongChang, Korea, in 2018.
“We are discussing about the World Cup of Hockey in 2016, and as soon as we have a decision we will discuss about the 2018 Olympics,” Fasel said. He admitted that being in Asia may be a challenge with the time difference for North Americans. But the growing Asian market offers important chances for hockey.
“We will also be in Asia in 2022 in China (Beijing) or Kazakhstan (Almaty), and I believe China is the favourite. I know the players want to go to the Olympics. I’m confident about that.”
The re-establishment of a World Cup of Hockey is planned for September 2016 with eight teams. It’s planned to form teams from Canada, United States, Sweden, Finland, Russia and the Czech Republic while two more teams are open.
The NHL Network US schedule for the World Junior Championship today and Monday. All times are ET.
|Semifinal||Sun Jan 4||Russia||Sweden||Air Canada Centre||4:00 PM|
|Semifinal||Sun Jan 4||Slovakia||Canada||Air Canada Centre||8:00 PM|
|Bronze Medal||Mon Jan 5||TBD||TBD||Air Canada Centre||4:00 PM|
|Gold Medal||Mon Jan 5||TBD||TBD||Air Canada Centre||8:00 PM|
A great segment from Don Cherry and Ron MacLean.
Topics dissussed included the recent plays by Steve Downie, some NHL tough guy talk, player safety equipment and Team Canada in the WJC.
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...
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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