Last night, a crisis began to unfold in Canada after a loss to Czechia in day one of the World Juniors. It was a 5-2 loss, caused by poor goaltending and defensive coverage, among other things.
This came after Finland was upset in overtime by Switzerland, and Team USA had an early scare against Latvia after being tied 2-2 and only pulling ahead late for a 5-2 win.
That means there was only one blowout game — Sweden pummelled Austria 11-0, and three of the other traditional powerhouse nations were either upset or played a tough game against “lesser” hockey nations.
And that’s terrible.
Especially for hockey journalists who like to ride in on their high horses to sniff and turn their noses up at the World Juniors when there are 6-0 wins from the likes of Canada, Sweden, USA, Russia, and Finland against Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Norway, Latvia, and so on. There’s not enough parity, it’s embarrassing to the sport to have such lopsided victories, and other smug remarks.
But now that there were such upsets and tight games, all those pre-written narratives the hack journalists were relying on to get them through their drunken holiday break are ruined. Now they actually have to write a whole new narrative about how the end is nigh, for Canadian hockey anyway.
You’d think they’re all Maple Leafs fans or something.
Oh, wait! I’m getting breaking news. Because there was still the 11-0 blowout, everything is saved! You can ignore everything I wrote above. Christmas and hockey journalism is saved!
If Swedish goalie Carl Lindbom had posted just a .231 save percentage in this game, his team still would have won the game. Sorry, but I don't see how this kind of disparity between teams benefits the Austrian program in any way.— Ken Campbell (@Ken_Campbell27) December 26, 2022
Ahhhh that’s the good stuff. It’s just not the same to have the World Juniors without Ken Campbell being a condescending prick about this exact same nontroversy every. God. Damned. Year.
LINKS FROM THE BRANCHES
The Toronto Maple Leafs 2022 Spengler Cup team | by elseldo
Once again we’re going to have some fun with the tournament and imagine the red and white Team Canada being replaced with the blue and white - Team Maple Leafs.
I did this several years ago for the Leafs centennial, and pickings were a little slim, but hey, maybe things have improved?
What’s on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ holiday wishlist? | by TLN
Toronto has had an incredible season so far. A 21-7-6 record, second place in the Atlantic Division, three players in the top-15 of scoring, and two goaltenders who have some of the best statistics in the NHL.
Although it’s been great, you can’t help but think a little bit into the future. What could the trade deadline look like? What are the Maple Leafs’ true needs? Will they win a round next year?
These are all very good questions.
But to get out of the first round, they need one or two more solid players. They need something that will put them over the top. And I believe I know what this team would like for presents.
Why Morgan Rielly remains critical to the team’s Cup chances | by MLHS
Rielly’s recent injury coincided with a hot streak where everything came up Maple Leafs and Mitch Marner went on a massive heater. But we’ve also seen the other side of life without Rielly.
The power play has cooled off, clicking at just 17.1 percent since Rielly’s injury, which ranks 26th in the league over this stretch. The coaching staff has now resorted to deploying five forwards on the power play as a result of the struggles. The big difference: Marner is playing up top to facilitate puck movement in the absence of Rielly.
Maple Leafs prospect Fraser Minten is not at the world juniors but his future looks bright | by The Athletic
Over the Blazers’ last few games before the holiday break, O’Donovan saw Minten trending in the right direction by utilizing more give-and-go passing plays with his teammates. Nevertheless, a key directive from the Blazers staff and a focus for the remainder of Minten’s season will be getting him to move quicker with and without the puck.
Mark Giordano living his Toronto dream, and embracing high fashion | By Sportsnet
Have a great Tuesday everyone!