by PuckStopsHere on 01/02/09 at 11:14 PM ET
First, I would like to apologize for a much longer than expected Christmas vacation from the internet.
The World Junior hockey Championships are underway in Ottawa. The preliminary round has been completed. Here are the results.
The preliminary round is made up of ten teams divided into two different five team divisions that played a round robin preliminary round against each other.
Canada was the class of this group. They won all four matchups with a combined score of 35-6. They have been led by tournament top scorers John Tavares (2009 draft eligible) and Cody Hodgson (Vancouver prospect) who have 12 points each. PK Subban (Montreal prospect) leads the defence with 8 points and a +12 +/- rating in only four games played. Chet Pickard (Nashville prospect) and Dustin Tokarski (Tampa Bay prospect) have split the goaltending duties. Pickard has had lighter work against easier teams and thus has better statistics, though it is unclear who the number one goalie is at this point.
USA was a strong second. They handily won most of their games (except against Canada). USA was led offensively by Jordan Schroeder (2009 draft eligible) who scored 10 points in the preliminary round and defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk (Colorado prospect) who had eight points. Their goaltending was provided by Thomas McCollum (Detroit prospect).
Next up with a two and two record was the Czech Republic. They were led offensively by Jan Kana (undrafted) who scored 8 points and Roman Ondrej (Dallas prospect) with 7 points. Tomas Kundratek (NY Rangers prospect) provided six points from defence. Dominik Furch (undrafted) provided most of their goaltending.
With a 1-3 record, Germany is next. They miss the medal round. They were not badly outplayed in the tournament being outscored 12-19. Their top scorers were Jerome Flaake (Toronto prospect) and Gerrit Fauser (undrafted) who scored four points each. Timo Pielmeier (San Jose prospect) was the top goalie.
Beaten up at the bottom of the group was Kazakhstan. They only scored 2 times and allowed 46 goals. It’s hard to point out any stars on a team with that kind of record.
The class of this group was the unbeaten Sweden team who outscored opponents 21-3. Top scorers were Andre Petersson (Ottawa prospect), Magnus Svensson Paajarvi (2009 draft eligible) and defenceman Erik Karlsson (Ottawa prospect) who each scored six points. Jacub Markstrom (Florida prospect) provided strong goaltending, posting a .975 saves percentage.
Losing only to Sweden was Russia. They were led offensively by Nikita Filatov (Columbus prospect) and Nikita Klyukin (undrafted) who each scored six points. The stronger of their two goaltenders was Vladimir Zhelobnyuk (undrafted).
The final group B playoff team was Slovakia. They were led offensively by Tomas Tatar (2009 draft eligible) who scored five points. Their goaltending was provided by Jaroslav Janus (undrafted).
Finland missed out on the medal round when they lost in a shootout to the Slovaks. The Fins lacked a big offensive weapon. Their top scorer was Jesse Jyrkkio (undrafted) who scored three points from defence. Their top goaltender was Juha Metsola (undrafted).
The weak team in this group was Latvia. They scored five times and allowed 26 goals. They had solid offensive performances from Roberts Jekimovs (undrafted) who had four points and Janis Straupe (undrafted) who scored three. Goaltending was provided by Nauris Enkuzens (undrafted).
In the quarterfinals, USA faces Slovakia and Russia faces the Czech Republic with the winners facing Sweden and Canada respectively in the semi-finals. It appears that Slovakia has upset USA in the one completed quarter-final. I will write more about that when both quarter-finals complete.
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