Canada got the World Junior Hockey Championship off to a great start on Wednesday night. The Canadian kids hammered the Czech Republic 9-0 in a dominant effort. There were quite a few reasons to be happy with their effort and very few reasons to criticize this Canadian team. There were three big reasons for Canada’s crushing victory last night.
Puck Moving Defence
The defence for Team Canada isn’t a very big core size wise. However, their speed and ability to move the puck is amazing. This D core is going to push the offensive pace and jump in to the rush as much as possible. The offence from the back end is going to be led by Colorado Avalanche 4th overall pick Cale Makar. He is one of the fastest players on the ice with the puck. With Dante Fabbro possibly being out for the tournament Makar will make the jump to the top two pairing on the back end. If Fabbro can’t go Josh Mahura fits into the defence perfectly. He is an offensive force for the Regina Pats of the WHL and is great at both ends of the ice. The defensive core combined for six points in the game against the Czech Republic which is what this team needs. The play of Canada’s defence will determine how far this team goes in the tournament.
Carter Hart made 18 saves on 18 shots to continue his lights out play. Going back 12 games in the WHL he has an 11-1 record with five shutouts. If he can continue his strong play with Canada this team could make a very long run. He didn’t have to be spectacular but Hart is such a calming presence in net for Canada that it has to help this Canadian team knowing he is in net. Carter Hart may be the most important player on Team Canada this year.
Katchouk, Thomas, Raddysh
The second line from Team Canada was amazing on Wednesday night. The line scored nine points total with Robert Thomas and Taylor Raddysh scoring four a piece. This line will be a great compliment to the first line of Sam Steel, Jordan Kyrou and Dillon Dube when he returns to the lineup. If this second line keeps playing this way Canada could have the most dangerous top six in in the entire tournament.
It was a great start for Canada but one pre tournament game does not equal a Gold Medal in this tournament. Canada plays Switzerland Friday in their final pre tournament game and then will get the tournament started on Boxing Day against Finland. This team is fast and moves the puck well. As long as they can keep up with bigger more physical teams they should have a very good shot at taking gold this year but, the Americans and Sweden may have something to say about that.