I have not commented too much on the 2010 WJC so far, so here goes:
- Canada may have a perfect 5-0 record and have outscored their opposition 41-7, but I would not go as far as to suggest they are the favorite to win the gold medal game. Many of the players on Team USA were members of the 2009 U18 team that defeated Canada en route to gold just last April. They probably should have beaten Canada on New Year's Eve, so they'll be looking for payback. Throw in Canada's injury problems and USA very possibly could end Canada's streak of 5 consecutive WJC gold medals.
- Interestingly, USA used Jack Campbell in net against Canada on Dec 31st. He's actually USA's back up goalie, as Mike Lee has carried the load. Expect Lee in net tonight. Canada's shooters won't have any experience shooting on the goalie, as he plays college hockey, not junior.
- Canada's blueline is quickly thinning. Travic Hamonic, one half of Canada's shut down pairing, is out with a shoulder separation. The coaching staff has shown little faith in Calvin de Haan coming off of a concussion and especially Jared Cowen coming off of a knee injury. That leaves only 4 healthy D, with versatile forward Brandon McMillan likely to take shifts on D, especially for power plays. Still, that changes up the defense pairings and forward units. Expect Alex Pietrangelo to join Scandella on the shut down D pairing. Canada's mettle will definitely be tested.
- Who's impressed me? Outside of last year's hero Jordan Eberle, surprisingly nobody has really stuck out for me from Canada's roster. Hamonic, McMillan, Pietrangelo, Stefan Della Roverre have all been steady. The rest have kind of been streaky. From the other countries that I've seen play - Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (SWE), Peter Hrasko (SVK), Mauro Jorg, Nino Niedereitter and Benjamin Conz (SUI) and Americans Jordan Schoeder, Danny Kristo, Derek Stepan and John Ramage.
- Know what is really amazing? Not only is Canada gunning for their record 6th straight gold medal, but this is their 9th consecutive gold medal game at the WJC. This despite massive roster changes every year as so many players immediately graduate to the NHL or minor pros. This year alone Canada could have had John Tavares, Tyler Myers, and Evander Kane, all starring in the NHL. Throw in injury losses of Cody Hodgson and Brent Connolly and the somewhat surprise cutting of top draft prospect Tyler Seguin, no wonder why Canada keeps challenging for gold. The depth of great young hockey players in this country right now is amazing!