After the fifth practice in three days for Team USA candidates, the competition is still fierce at the U.S. National Junior Team’s preliminary camp. The big news of the day so far has been that Justin Faulk will not be made available by the Carolina Hurricanes, but that wouldn’t be the last significant piece of info to come out today.
Guy Flaming, of The Pipeline Show and Coming Down the Pipe, was in Camrose today and reported Nick Bjugstad was wearing a no-contact jersey and left practice early.
TPS also shared its post-practice conversation with Dean Blais in these tweets:
well after Chatting with coach Blais, there appears to be some concern now in regards to Bjugstad being ready…
“he won’t play if he’s not 100%” and then added he won’t play in the first 2 exhibition games.
I had heard prior to camp, that Bjugstad had suffered a shoulder injury in a recent University of Minnesota game, but that it was not thought to be serious. Blais’ comments are cause for some concern, however.
Bjugstad has been a man possessed this season for the Gophers and has been widely praised for his hard work in the off-season to raise his game to another level. He’s also a returning player to the World Junior Championship. Improved development, plus World Junior experience makes Bjugstad a key player for Team USA.
Now, it’s a bit too early to panic, as this is still a very fluid situation. The fact that Bjugstad will be held out of the exhibitions and isn’t taking contact shouldn’t really set him back any. It’s good for him to rest that injury. Should Bjugstad show improvement, I’d expect him to be on the final roster, even if it means he has to sit out a game or two at the tournament.
That said, if there’s any concern that he’d have to miss more than two or maybe three games, there’s a good chance he’d have to be left off the roster. The U.S. dealt with injuries a lot in 2011 and it would be tough to start in a hole already this year.
I’ll be in touch with Team USA sources throughout to monitor this situation.
The big player news has somewhat overshadowed the fact that the U.S. has had a pretty good camp so far. One Team USA source said the camp has had very competitive practices and scrimmages, which is exactly what you want to hear. I couldn’t get any info on any individual standouts, but the fact that the players are competing at a high level is pretty positive.
That makes for tougher roster decisions, but it also means that the players are locked in and understand what is required of them. You have to hope that compete- or battle-level is maintained throughout and carries over to the tournament.
USA Hockey’s World Junior blog has been keeping us abreast of what’s been happening in Camrose pretty well, and will likely be the go-to source during Team USA’s exhibition contests coming up.
Team USA has wrapped up each of its first two days with scrimmage games. On Saturday night, Shane Prince, J.T. Miller, T.J. Tynan and Brian Ferlin scored for Team White as it defeated Team Blue, 4-0, with Jack Campbell earning the shutout. On Sunday, Jason Zucker scored for Team Blue and Tynan notched his second of the camp for Team White. Austin Watson and Austin Czarnik each scored in the shootout, beating Campbell to give White the 2-1 win.
More notes from Camp:
Guy Flaming also reported from The Pipeline Show’s twitter that Team USA had a line combination of Jason Zucker-Charlie Coyle-Emerson Etem on the ice a lot. Needless to say, that sounds like a frightening line. In related news, if you’re not following @ThePipelineShow, you’re missing out on some of the best Team USA reporting coming out of Alberta.
If you were hoping to catch any of Team USA’s exhibition games against international foes online, you’re out of luck. A USA Hockey spokesman informed me that there will be no live video coverage of any of the three pre-tournament games. It’s not necessarily surprising, seeing as an audience for these games would not be incredibly large. Normally, this wouldn’t be news, but the most common question I’ve got over the last two weeks is “Will there be any video feeds of the USA exhibitions?” Sorry, folks.
The tournament will be carried live on NHL Network. Still awaiting the final television schedule, but you’ll be able to see each of Team USA’s WJC contests.
Chris Dilks offers his Team USA World Junior Championship Linkorama at Western College Hockey Blog. Yes, I just linked a linkorama in my own link dump, but Chris has a couple of important nuggets of info.
Neate Sager with his take on Team USA without Justin Faulk.
It was pretty much already assumed, but USA Hockey reveals that there will be no replacement for Faulk.
NHL.com’s Faulk report from Mike Morreale.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie on Jon Merrill’s road to redemption at the World Juniors.
Team USA prepares for crazy atmosphere on Canadian soil, via the Edmonton Journal.
The folks in Camrose are dealing with slightly torn allegiances with Team USA in town.
Corey Pronman is previewing the top prospects on each team at the World Juniors for ESPN Insider, starting with Canada (Subscription required).
Team USA takes on Russia Tuesday night in Red Deer, Alberta, at 7 p.m. MST. I’ll have a full preview taking a look at the Russian roster and what we’ll learn about Team USA.
I’ll close this post out with a look at Jack Campbell’s glorious Captain America mask in action. This comes from Dave Arnold. Be sure to check out his fantastic sports photography at DaveArnoldPhotography.com. Special thanks to Dave for allowing me to post his work.
Correction- In Sunday’s game, the regulation goal for Team White was scored by Austin Levi – not Tynan.