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Thursday FTB: Holmberg starts his Olympics off strong

What better way to make your debut than by setting up the first goal

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Slovakia v Sweden - 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship

Pontus Holmberg’s whirlwind season has another highlight. Playing in his first game in the Olympics for Sweden, he set up their first goal of the tournament with a nice pass out from behind the net.

Holmberg had a good scoring chance of his own late in the first period, just after a powerplay expired. He was used on the second powerplay unit, and on the second line left wing. Strong work along the boards and quick power move taking it out to the net, almost surprised the goalie but lost the puck.

He was a bit of a beast on the cycle in this game. He protected the puck well and was a nuisance for the Latvian defenders to knock off the puck. On a few occasions he was able to spin off or elude the defensemen enough to set up a good scoring chance, like this one:

The center of his line, Lucas Wallmark, led the way for Sweden with two goals and looked like their best player. But Holmberg was definitely not out of place on his wing with his forechecking and smart play. He seems like the kind of responsible game, at a high-effort at all times, and has enough skill that there is a shot he could play in the bottom six in the NHL.

The Leafs will have three other prospects playing later this morning. Matthew Knies and Nick Abruzzese will play for Team USA against China at 8:10 am EST, while Josh Ho Sang (while less of a prospect) will play at the same time for Canada against Germany. Let’s see if they can top Holmberg’s debut!

LEAFS LINKS

Practice Report: Auston Matthews says he won’t miss next game, and an update on Jake Muzzin | by Hardev. Both are excellent news for the Leafs as they work through the middle of the season, trying to solidify a spot at the top of their insane division.

Maple Leafs have four prospects at the Olympics | by Katya. Hey, speaking of Holmberg, Knies, Abruzzese and Ho Sang!

Danielle Goyette speaks on her stint as Newfoundland Growlers’ assistant coach | by TLN, who have some quotes from Goyette who recently made history as the first woman to be an assistant coach in the history of the ECHL.

Sheldon Keefe on Jake Muzzin working his way back from injury: “He looks good… He looks like himself | transcript by MLHS. Muzzin returning to the form he showed the last two seasons would be huge for the Leafs.

Can Josh Ho-Sang turn his Olympic opportunity into a job with the Maple Leafs? | by The Athletic. I’m skeptical, if only because I have a hard time deciding what current forward in their top 12 he would obviously surpass on the depth chart. But he’s been a nice story this year.

MISCELLANEOUS HOCKEY LINKS

New coach Martin St. Louis commands instant respect from Canadiens | by Eric Engels at Sportsnet, breaking down the surprise new coach for the Montreal Canadiens after they fired Ducharme earlier in the day yesterday.

Oilers concede first goal again in loss to Blackhawks | by TSN. The Oilers continue to struggle, sitting three points back of the last wild card spot with two more games played, and six points back of the third spot in the division.

Speaking of struggling...

Speaking of Alberta...

And we’ll end things on this positive note!