There have been several interesting stories over the course of the last 24 hours involving the World Junior Championship, so I figured it was time to weigh in on a couple of items:
- Before we get into anything else, there were a few questions as to whether or not Jeremy Morin was ACTUALLY released to Team USA since virtually no one actually reported it in print or anywhere other than Twitter until much later in the day. If you’re still doubting it, USA Hockey’s World Juniors blog confirms that Morin will be with Team USA. He was to have joined the team last night. No word on if he dresses for tonight’s exhibition against the Czech Republic.
- I’ve also seen around the internet a lot of questions regarding TV coverage of the World Junior Championship. For those of you with the NHL Network, you’re in luck. You’ll be able to catch all of Team USA’s and Team Canada’s games in both the preliminary and medal rounds. If you’re like me and live in an area that hasn’t been blessed with the NHL Network’s presence just yet, FASTHockey.com comes to the rescue, streaming all of Team USA’s games live.
- Canada took it to a decent Swiss team last night, 8-0, in an exhibition. While I said yesterday that Team USA’s loss to RPI shouldn’t be taken to heart, I think Canada’s win is a little different. For one, they played the team that finished fourth at last year’s WJC. They played in front of a partisan crowd in Oshawa. Lastly, and most importantly, Canada is playing with their actual roster and have had a chance to practice together often. The game looked important to the players, to the fans and everyone else. It was a tournament-like atmosphere. That’s not really what I wanted to talk about. I think most importantly, this confirms what I’ve thought since the Canadian team was announced. They may be a blue-collar team, but this is also a team full of blue chippers. There’s a lot of talent, a lot of skill and a lot of jam. This is a team on a mission. Anyone that thinks they are an underdog is sorely, sorely mistaken. This tournament could be wide open this year.
- Yesterday, I linked to a story about Germany, Norway and Sweden missing gear thanks to the airlines. Air travel has been awful out of Europe thanks to inclement weather. Lost luggage happens to hockey teams a lot more often than you think and it is incredibly stressful on the players and staff. Norway and Slovakia were to play an exhibition game tonight, but that has been postponed until tomorrow, due to the equipment delay. Norway’s probably got a snowball’s chance in hell of doing anything at this tournament, but taking away valuable practice time is not something any team can afford. These players only get a short amount of time to play together, to learn together and to grow together. When you can’t skate, everything gets messed up. I feel for Norway. This is not how you want to start your WJC. The Swedes, on the other hand, hate missing practice. They actually bought all new equipment from a local store up in Ontario. Can’t keep those guys off the ice.
Back to Team USA:
- I tweeted yesterday that I had been hearing Jerry D’Amigo had been under-performing at camp and really struggled in the RPI game. Bob McKenzie had a few thoughts on that topic as well:
D’Amigo has not looked great in camp, and he is one of the returning players. Is he going to make their team? Absolutely. Does he need to play a lot better than what he has shown head coach Keith Allain so far? Absolutely.
You never know when you get guys from the American Hockey League how they are going to perform. Brandon Pirri played in the AHL, came to the Team Canada camp, and didn’t even get a sniff.
- The last observation is this. Tonight’s exhibition game against the Czech Republic could not be bigger for those guys on the cusp of making this team. Here’s the only problem. We don’t know who all is going to play tonight. All 29 players can’t suit up. As Chris Dilks astutely mentioned yesterday on Western College Hockey Blog, Jon Merrill and Charlie Coyle did not play in the RPI game. They were the only two non-returning players to sit out. Both Chris and I feel that these two are locks. I’d imagine they play tonight just to get some game action. Still, keep a very close eye on tonight’s line up. Team USA still has one exhibition left after they announce the final roster tomorrow. Tonight’s game is the final audition for the players on the bubble. It’s going to be a tense night for about eight or nine guys.
- Also, for those who would like to watch the game, it’s being carried live on FASTHockey.com. It’s a pay-per-view broadcast, but it might be worth checking out. Otherwise, USA Hockey’s World Juniors blog does a very nice job of live blogging the games.