Canada and the USA are on another collision course at the World Junior Championships in Russia, it seems. But there's also the host country to worry about if they wanna get out of their division alive. They got things underway Boxing Day with a big win over Germany.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. No, this is not a review of 'A Tale Of Two Cities', but an accurate barometer of the emotional gamut that one goes through during the annual battle to determine the best nation in junior hockey. And as is now tradition here in the Great White North, the 2nd guessing and spewing of doubt and discontent is well underway, with a good chunk of it from within our own borders.
Despite 9 goals, and a dominant 5 point effort from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, we find a lot of discussion about Canada's goaltending troubles. After a lopsided win. Such is life in the greatest hockey nation. Expectations so high that anything but perfection is seen as a harbinger of doom. Good lord, Malcolm Subban! 3 goals? Are you kidding me? Do not bother me with the fact that 2 of those goals were you being left hung out to dry by sloppy defensive play and turnovers. You have disappointed a nation, young man. Hang your head in shame.
Yeah, not really. While it wasn't perfect, Subban made a number of solid saves in a game that was more about highlighting a need to tighten up defensively, and emphasize the need for discipline in this tournament than anything else. The kinds of turnovers Canada committed during the game were frustrating because they came about from players rushing the play, when a slight pause to assess the situation on the larger ice surface could show more options to them. The larger surface is always looked at as a disadvantage to North American teams, but the kind of skaters this team has surely would even things out if not be the same kind of advantage that other teams enjoy simply because they have that extra room to break out.
So despite calls for Jordan Binnington to get the start against Slovakia, Team Canada will go with Subban once again as they take on Slovakia Friday morning. The Slovaks took the host country to overtime in their opening match before falling, but you know they'll be fired up. It will be important for Canada to not fall into the trap of looking ahead to Sunday morning's game against the Americans. The Slovaks showed they're not going to be pushovers by any stretch, and the kind of defensive lapses we saw against the Germans cannot happen against a much better Slovakian squad.
Finland and Sweden also opened the tournament with wins, and this morning saw lopsided victories from Switzerland and the USA, who beat the Germans 8-0, which is one of the reasons that Twitter is so littered with obnoxiousness this morning. As always we will have open threads here at Nucks Misconduct for you night-owls, but we look forward to your post PVR comments too. Don't judge me for recording the games. I have the flu, dammit.
The kickass metal tune of the day:
From one of the albums I was really looking forward to this year: Lich King's 'Born Of The Bomb', I present you with 'Axe Cop'. If you haven't heard of Axe Cop yet, it's a cartoon that some guy made, with the storylines written by his 5 year old brother. Seriously amazing.