The first two games of the tournament have been ugly for Team Canada. They beat up on Germany in their opening game and honestly, it was tough to watch. Their second game against Slovakia was ugly for a whole different reason. Canada just straight up did not play well. Yes, they still won the game but it was not the type of performance I was expecting from Canada.
They got on the board early thanks to a goal from Jordan Spence, who was only in the lineup because defenseman Braiden Schnieder was given a one-game suspension for a high hit he delivered in the game against Germany, and that early goal was all they got in the first 40 minutes of the game. The offence just wasn’t there and it wasn’t like they ran into a hot goaltender or anything like that. They just struggled to get quality scoring chances. At the end of the game, they only outshot Slovakia 23-18.
They ended up winning 3-1 thanks to a late goal from Phil Tomasino and an empty-netter from Jack Quinn, but that was not a win that Team Canada should be too proud of. They hardly looked like a gold-medal favourite on Sunday.
One positive from the game was the play of Devon Levi, who has a firm grip on the starer’s crease. He followed up a solid performance against Germany with another good outing against Slovakia, stopping 16 of the 17 shots he faced. He now has a 1.20 GAA and a .929 SV% on the tournament.
Heading into the tournament, goaltending was a bit of a concern for this team, but Levi has squashed that with his solid play and tonight, the rest of Team Canada will be looking to have a bit of a bounceback performance when they take on Switzerland.
Switzerland has struggled through their first two games, failing to win either of them. They opened things up with a 1-0 loss to Slovakia on Christmas Day in which they were outshot 32-28. They fell to 0-2 with a loss to Finland on Sunday. They actually got the first goal of the game against Finland, but were only able to hold onto the lead for 36 seconds and would go on to allow four unanswered goals.
They have just one defenseman on their roster who was on last years team and only three forwards who appeared in last years tournament. If there is one forward who could do some damage, it’s Simon Knak. Knak has put up eight shots through the tournament but doesn’t have a point yet.
They’ve struggled to score but they have been good at keeping the puck out of their own net, only allowing five goals in their first two games. Thibault Fatton has started both games and has stopped 70 of the 75 shots he’s faced. He’s been busy and really, a big reason why Switzerland hasn’t been blown out in either of their games.
This feels like a bit of a rebuilding year for Switzerland considering they have a very young roster and just a handful of returning players.
WHAT I’M EXPECTING
I would be shocked if we didn’t see a much better effort from Team Canada tonight. Like I said earlier, they did not look like gold medal favourites against Slovakia and tonight is really their last easy matchup before ending the round-robin with a big game against Finland. They need to take a bit of a step forward tonight and a matchup against a pretty weak Swiss team gives them a great chance to do that. I’d expect more offense from Canada and a five or six goal victory.
Canada will also have some new look likes tonight as Head Coach Andre Tourigny looks to spark his team.
Head coach Andre Tourigny shaking up his top six
Holloway – McMichael – Cozens
Perfetti – Newhook – Krebs
Zary skating as the 13th forward today
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) December 28, 2020
Dylan Holloway will be back in the lineup tonight after being scratched against Slovakia with an upper-body injury. Holloway wasn’t much of a factor in the teams opening game against Germany but he is going to have a great chance to be an impact player tonight as he’s been put on the team’s top line alongside Connor McMichael and Dylan Cozens. I’m excited to see how Holloway’s high-end speed will mix with the skill of McMichael and Cozens. It could be a very effective trio for Team Canada.
As for Phillip Broberg, he was scratched for Sweden’s win over Austria yesterday so he didn’t get a chance to build on his three-point opening night performance. Sweden’s Head Coach Joel Ronnmark did say after the game that if he really wanted to, he could have dressed Broberg and that he’ll be ready to go moving forward so it sounds like keeping him out against Austria was just a precautionary measure.
AROUND THE WJC
Yesterday, we had just two games on the World Junior slate. Sweden started the day with a 4-0 win over Austria, keeping them on top of Group B. The best game of the day was the matchup between Germany and Slovakia with the Germans coming out on top in overtime.
Today, the day starts with a matchup between the Czechs and USA. The Czech Republic upset Russia earlier in the week and could really mess up the standings in Group B if they pull off another upset today. The late game will see the Russians take on Austria.