The first goal came 19 seconds into the game and at points it seemed like they’d never stop. The U.S. National Junior Team trounced Germany 8-0 in its opening game of the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship.
This was the start Team USA needed heading into the meat of its Group of Death opposition. Eight different players scored goals, while John Gibson and Jon Gillies split the shutout.
Sure, Germany was a weak opponent playing its second game in as many days, but the U.S. played a complete game. Every line was getting involved in the offense, the speed was overtly evident, the D limited quality chances and contributed offensively. Almost every detail went right.
You couldn’t pick out a player that had a “bad” game. Not everyone was great, but there didn’t look to be a single U.S. player that looked out of place or uncomfortable. This gives the U.S. a game to build off of as the tournament only gets tougher from here.
Coming up after the jump an in-depth look at what made the U.S. so successful, the stats and more.
Team USA Scoring Summary
Goals: Sean Kuraly, Jacob Trouba, Alex Galchenyuk, Riley Barber, Shayne Gostisbehere (PPG), Ryan Hartman, J.T. Miller, Seth Jones
Assists: Alex Galchenyuk (2), Riley Barber (2), Blake Pietila (2), Sean Kuraly, Seth Jones, Rocco Grimaldi, Cole Bardreau.
Saves/GA: John Gibson – 19/0 (in 40:00), Jon Gillies 7/0 (in 20:00)
Other stats of note:
— Sean Kuraly won 71.4 percent of his 14 faceoffs, while Vince Trocheck (16-of-23) and J.T. Miller (9-of-13) each eclipsed 69 percent.
— Seth Jones led Team USA with a plus-5 rating. Mike Reilly was second at plus-4.
— Seth Jones and Alex Galchenyuk led Team USA with six shots apiece.
— Team USA was 6-for-6 on the penalty kill and 1-of-5 on the power play.
Full stat sheet can be found here (PDF).
— The U.S. did what it had to against Germany. It utilized its speed and was able to capitalize with its terrific transition game. The speed also helped draw penalties and by the end of the game, Germany looked completely spent. The U.S. might have taken its foot off the gas pedal slightly in the third period, but from start to finish, it was a dominating effort.
— The U.S. didn’t establish much of a physical game. Tyler Biggs and Jacob Trouba had a few decent hits, but there wasn’t much body-on-body. That will have to change against the likes of Russia and Canada, but the U.S. was able to dominate with its speed against Germany. There has to be a mix of both speed and physicality though in those tighter contests. Board play and separating opponents from pucks in open ice helps lead to victories.
— The power play generated chances and looked like it got more comfortable as the game went on. Shayne Gostisbehere scored the lone power play goal on the one-timer. Obviously, if you’re a Team USA fan, you’d hope to see a better conversion rate on the power play, but considering today was the first chance with the full team, it went well enough. The D on the two PP units, Jones/Gostisbehere, Trouba/Reilly looked dangerous all game.
— The line of Sean Kuraly centering Alex Galchenyuk and Riley Barber was better than advertised, accounting for three of Team USA’s goals and a bunch more chances. That group looked comfortable together. It was a savvy move for Housley to switch Trocheck and Kuraly to give the U.S. a bit more scoring depth and get some good chemistry going. This worked in spades.
— The line of J.T. Miller, Rocco Grimaldi and John Gaudreau could have been better today, but it did improve as the game went on. The U.S. will want to see more out of one of its big scoring lines. As these guys get more comfortable together, they should be more dangerous. Miller scored a nice goal and this group became a lot more threatening in the third period. It’s risky putting two smaller guys on the wings with Miller being the lone big body, but I’d like to see how this line does against Russia before trying to make a move.
— The Grind Line of Cole Bardreau, Blake Pietila and Ryan Hartman had a goal today and looked good in shutting down the opposition. They didn’t play as physically as you’d expect, but kept after Germany on the forecheck. These guys know how to wear opponents down.
— Vince Trocheck’s line with Mario Lucia, Tyler Biggs and occasionally Jimmy Vesey was generating more chances than you’d expect, but had trouble converting. This group, led by Biggs, threw its weight around a little bit more. Trocheck’s ability at the dot certainly helped. Vesey saw limited action as the 13th forward, but made the most of every shift. He could get more playing time as a result.
— Obviously the scoring depth wasn’t an issue today, but it doesn’t mean it won’t be going forward. With the momentum built with a nice win against Germany, the U.S. just needs to hope these lines keep coming together as they appear they have. A little more familiarity will smooth things out as the tournament progresses.
— The decision about the seventh defenseman still hasn’t been made. With the way the D contributed offensively today and Connor Murphy looking good throughout the game, you have to wonder which of Matt Grzelcyk or Patrick Sieloff will get the call. You really could go with either, depending on what the most pressing need is. Sieloff’s ability to play physical may trump Grzelcyk’s offensive game, but can you ever have enough scoring potential? Very tough decision ahead.
— It’s important to take this game with a grain of salt. I think Germany is better than most people realize, but it’s still the weakest team in the bracket. The U.S. certainly has no business getting comfortable with Russia waiting in the wings. Today’s game was encouraging, but there’s a lot more left to learn about Team USA.
Alex Galchenyuk — The big forward was named Team USA’s best player of the game and he was deserving. A threat for the entire contest, Galchenyuk showed his immense skill and ability to create offensively. His goal came after a terrific play to find himself time and space and he had an open look. He scores that goal every time with that much room. The U.S. was hoping his hot streak in the OHL to translate to the World Juniors and if today was any indication, it did. Here’s a look at Galchenyuk’s absolute snipe (via @Dr_Habs).
Sean Kuraly — Stalled offensively in his freshman year at Miami, he wasted no time today scoring the goal 19 seconds in. His work at the faceoff dot as well as applying pressure offensively made his being in the top six pay off right away. Kuraly has great size and speed and that line did almost everything right today. He took one bad penalty on a cross-check, but other than that, Kuraly was one of Team USA’s best forwards today and that’s saying something.
Riley Barber — Why not keep it with the same line? Barber had a nice three-point game and seemed to work incredibly well with Galchenyuk and Miami teammate Kuraly. He found the open ice and made good decisions with the puck. Galchenyuk gift-wrapped his goal, but Barber made it count with the finish. He played with speed and showed why he’s the leading scorer among freshmen in college hockey.
Mike Reilly — The offensive defenseman looked good in both zones today, but did he ever use the ice well. Using his good vision and speed, Reilly was able to find the lanes today and make good decisions. He had some terrific stretch passes that turned into goals and/or scoring chances and was able to jump into plays. Playing with Seth Jones, he can take a few risks, but today I thought he controlled his game well. That was a huge positive for the U.S. as he can be a weapon offensively.
Seth Jones — By his own standards, that wasn’t a great game for Jones, but he had two points and a plus-5, so ya know, not bad. Jones did get a little questionable with his decisions on the power-play, trying to force passes, but he stayed solid in his own end. He had a nice goal for Team USA’s eighth, jumping into the play and wiring a hefty wrister and slid a perfect pass to Gostisbehere for a one-time goal on the power play. He got better as the game went on and even when he’s not at his best, he’s still pretty incredible.
Shayne Gostisbehere — This kid can shoot. Gostisbehere’s one-timer was well placed and heavy for Team USA’s lone power play goal. Not only that, but he showed a lot of patience today. He has the ability to skate circles around a lot of guys, but he kept things simple and it worked well in both zones.
John Gibson — Though he didn’t get much work, Gibson was stellar when called upon. His work on Team USA’s first of two 5-on-3 PKs was simply remarkable. He looked good moving laterally and never once looked like he was sweating. Getting him that strong start today was big heading into the rest of the tournament. It’s Gibson’s first WJC win after being there last year. I wasn’t a huge fan of pulling Gibson while he was rolling, but I guess you can’t fault the coaches for wanting to rest their No. 1 guy. He’ll be fresh for Russia.
John Gaudreau — The game was kind of like a slow burn for the BC dynamo. He looked like he was struggling with the pace early, but as the game went on he created chances with his hands and showed the ability to make guys miss. He finished with five shots on goal for the game and nearly had a goal off a nifty dangle in the second period. As he gets more used to this tournament, he should excel. The third period was his best.
Connor Murphy — With the uncertainty surrounding Murphy, it was unclear if he would be able to play up to his regular standards. He looked fine today. Murphy defended well and kept things simple like he always does. He might have gotten less ice than he normally would, but no need to push him too hard yet.
J.T. Miller — Miller’s goal was nifty, but up until then, I don’t know if there was enough out of him. Like Gaudreau, he improved as the game went on and I think that goal kind of sparked him a bit. Miller has good speed and got involved physically as the game went on. He’ll remain a huge key to Team USA’s success.
The U.S. by and large was solid today. Every player seemed to get involved, but in the interest of your time and mine, I’ll have to cut the player recaps off there.
Group B Standings After Today
1. USA (1-0-0-0) — 3 PTS
2. Canada (1-0-0-0) — 3 PTS
3. Russia (0-1-0-0) — 2 PTS
4. Slovakia (0-0-1-0) — 1 PTS
5. Germany (0-0-0-2) — 0 PTS
Coming up later today, a comprehensive preview of Team USA’s huge Friday-morning tilt with host Russia.