Canada started off the 2012 World Junior Championship with an impressive 8-1 win over Finland, and now draws the Czech Republic. Last night the Czech’s came off their own opening win, downing Denmark by a score of 7-0. The two teams meet for 29th time since 1977, with Canada holding the edge with a 14-6-8 record. While the Czechs showed some success against Canada in the early 90’s, they have not beaten Canada since 1993.
Although each team has only played one game so far, they both come into tonight boasting similar numbers. Both clubs are 100% on the penalty kill (Can: 4/4 – Cze: 3/3) and both have seen success on the power play (Can: 2/2 – Cze 3/4). If Canada wants to continue to show its dominance in this group, it’s probably not going to want to rely on special teams, but rather, show that they can control the game at ES, and use the PP to put teams away.
The biggest news as far as the lineup is concerned is the injury to Devante Smith-Pelly. After blocking a shot in the game against Finland, Smith-Pelly suffered a broken left foot and will be lost to the team for the remainder of the tournament. The injury doesn’t just leave the Canadians short one forward, but also takes away a formidable role player that is rare. At 5’ 11”and 210 lbs, Devante sticky, compact player. In tgame one and throughout the exhibitition period he quickly showed the impact he had on the physical side with punishing checks that opened up the ice for his linemates.
The loss of Smith-Pelly forced Don Hay to rearrange his lines, namely slotting in Tanner Pearson. As a surprise addition to the team Canada squad, Pearson was asked to assume more of a checking role at the WJC. Now on a line with Michael Bournival and Boone Jenner, Tanner should get the chance to put up some decent numbers. The Czech’s will be a good test for him and his line tonight.
Jaden Schwartz – Mark Scheifele – Brendan Gallagher
Jonathan Huberdeau – Ryan Strome – Mark Stone
Quinton Howden – Freddie Hamilton – Brett Connolly
Michael Bournival – Boone Jenner – Tanner Pearson
Brandon Gormley – Dougie Hamilton
Scott Harrington – Ryan Murray
Jamie Oleksiak – Nathan Beaulieu
Look for Mark Visentin to get the start again for Canada and he is the incumbant number 1. He played well in the opener and is going to want to be sharp for the big match vs. the Americans when it comes.
Jonathan Huberdeau and Mark Stone put on a clinic against Finland and should be in contention for the tournament scoring lead. Stone with the hat trick and Huberdeau with a goal and three assists will be looked upon again to continue their ways tonight.
The Czech Republic had a horrible tournament last year, relying on a victory over Slovakia 5-2 to get into the relegation round. They are obviously looking to better that placing this time around. With eight NHL draft picks in the lineup, they should make a bigger statement and perhaps return to the form of the more dominant team of the 90’s.
Jiri Sekac – Petr Holik – Dimitrij Jaskin
Tomas Nosek – Dominik Uher – Tomas Filippi
Jakub Culek – Tomas Hertl – Petr Straka
Radek Faksa – Lukas Sedlak – Tomas Hyka
David Musil – Daniel Krejci
Bohumil Jank – Vojtech Mozik
Jiri Riha – Petr Zamorsky
Petr Mrazek is the number 1 goalie for the Czech’s. he played last night but only faced 12 shots, so he may be good to go again tonight against the Canadians. If not, it will be Libor Kasik to get the call between the pipes.
Everyone knows this game is merely a process in the tournament… A means to an end if you will. As long as Canada sticks to the game plan and does their thing, they should be fine. As stated, the Czech’s haven’t beaten Canada since 1993 when they were formed as an indepedent Country and there’s no reason that trend should change today. Play the Czech Republic and don’t look ahead to the game on New Year’s Eve against the U.S. and Canada will follow the Red path in the above picture. make it too complicated and it could be the blue path.