The title works better if you imagine John Elton signing it, it’s been stuck in my head since I thought of it, so enjoy! I hope that everyone is enjoying their holidays and possibly as the title would suggest, been able to take in a World Juniors game or six. The tournament has for the most part run according to plan except for one small upset, any guesses?
Czech Republic’s upset of the Russia’s last night is what makes the World Juniors great. In a tournament like this, tactics can overcome skill in small, properly executed windows. Case and point, the Czechs managed to frustrate the Russian team all night and they capitalized on their chances. This was a much needed rebound win for a team that wore down as the game progressed against the Swedes. We have seen before that sometimes a team just needs that one win to give them belief, a sort of “Why not us?” moment. This could be that rallying cry for the Czechs who still have Austria and the US on deck.
Jan Mysak, the Czech captain and recent Habs second round pick has had a good start to the tournament. He got on the scoresheet early, opening the scoring for his team in the tournament with a goal against the Swedes. That is his only point thus far, but Mysak’s performance overall has been strong. His game is a little more Danault than flash, he does a lot of the little, unnoticed (and in some cases unappreciated) things well. Mysak’s development to this point has been a bit of a unique two-prong approach, splitting time between the pro league in Czech and the OHL. This tournament is a good middle ground, and a nice glimpse at how he handles himself in an elevated role among the best of his peers in his age group.
Speaking of flash, Cole Caufield dazzled with a few incredible goals in the pre-tournament game but has yet to do so in the tournament. He is certainly due, he has 11 shots on net and his analytical numbers are strong, so give him time. The major point of frustration seems to his lack of production in an 11-0 game, but who cares? There is certainly no shortage of intelligent hockey minds in Montreal so this is just a reminder for those that needed to hear it.
Many US player’s came into the tournament with little to no games played so far this season. In a blow out, the coach is going to want to get these specific guys ice time to work off some rust. Not Caufield, a player whose team ranks near the top of the NCAA in games played. The fact that his ice time remained constant is encouraging for what’s to come as the urgency of the tournament ramps up. He will likely start next season in the NCAA or AHL, so just enjoy the ability to watch him in HD while you have it.
Wrapping things up with Kaiden Guhle, he quickly got things going by opening the scoring for Team Canada on Boxing Day. He has been a pleasure to watch and first and foremost, he is not fun to play against. I’ve made an effort to really focus on his gap control since it’s one of the hallmarks of his game. Spark notes, he basically makes it impossible to enter the zone on his side of the ice.
Overall solid start to the World Juniors tournament for the trio of Habs prospects. All three picked up points in their respective opening games and all have decent Time On Ice numbers. Habs fans are in for a treat tomorrow afternoon as the Czechs, fresh off their upset, take on Team USA at 2:00 pm EST. Given their respective roles on the team, we could see some literal head to head action between Mysak and Caufield.
This is getting added in because this broke literally as I am typing this, Bienvenue Corey Perry! Taxi squad article coming soon!
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Hot Sauce content with Peeze, Terry and Alex discussing the NFL, the NBA and they are joined by Danny Gallagher, author of several Montreal Expos inspired novels including Blue Monday and the recently published Always Remembered: New Revelations and Old Tales About Those Faboulous Expos.
Alex the Intern and Terry take a look back at the season that was in Fantasy Football with the Fantasy Football Hustler. A fitting interview for Week 16, but for those of you looking to get a head start on next season look no further. I personally got a nice beat down from Peeze in the finals of our company league, so congrats to him as I go cry in the shower.
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