Congratulations to the Canada players. They played a great game -- probably their best of the tournament -- to be a good Sweden team. I think Canada's fast start won the game for them, because Sweden had the better of the play in the second period. The only thing that hurt them was their absentee power play.
"If we had played the game we did in the third period, we would have won the game," Mattias Tedenby told me, and he might be right. "Both teams are really good. I think if we had gotten the first goal it would have been a different game."
But they didn't. P.K. Subban got the first goal and that kept the crowd in the game. For a while in the first, it looked like Sweden, to use Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi's words, "(expletive) their pants." I think Jacob Markstrom was rattled with the traffic Canada threw at him and got more worried about who was coming into the blue paint rather than stopping the puck. And I'm still surprised Victor Hedman didn't get a penalty for blatantly chucking Angelo Esposito to the ice and punching him in the head in the second period. Also, Tedenby should have gotten a penalty for trying to shove Cody Goloubef's head through the ice after he was shoved into Markstrom. The Sweden kids got too caught up in the physical play and it took them out of their skill game. They made it easy for Canada.
So that's it from Ottawa. I'm on a 9 a.m. flight back to Philadelphia and the real world. Thanks for reading the blog. I hope you enjoyed it.
Jan. 5 - 10:05 p.m.
It's all over, Cody Hodgson scores his second of the game and Canada has its fifth straight gold medal, winning it 5-1. More from the post-game press conferences.
Jan. 5 - 9:25 p.m.
If the first was all Canada, the second was all Sweden. But Dustin Tokarski has been far better in goal tonight than Jacob Markstrom. Markstrom had been the best goalie in the tournament while there were numerous questions surrounding Tokarski. But just like he did against the U.S., Tokarski made the biggest saves when his team needed him the most.
Canada penalty killing has kept them in this game. They killed off four in the second period alone.
Canada will start the third on the power play. If they can get one more, they can start the celebration here in Ottawa.
More from the third period.
Jan. 5 - 8:40 p.m.
Big collision between Angelo Esposito and Jacob Markstrom. Markstrom might have embellished it a bit, and then Victor Hedman threw Esposito down and thew a punch. Surprised no penalty on Hedman.
Esposito, the kid cut from three straight World Junior camps, just scored another big goal. Won a battle, walked off the wall and backhanded the puck past Markstrom. Make it 2-0 Canada.
Jan. 5 - 8:25 p.m.
So what's happened since the last blog? OK, Russia recovered from the devastating Saturday loss to beat Slovakia for the bronze. Loudest ovation of the tournament, though, went to Slovakia goalie Jaroslav Janus.
Had some great coversations with Steve Yzerman regarding the 2010 Olympics, and Commissioner Bettman about a few League-related matters. My notebook on those talks and more should be up on NHL.com soon.
And while I was waiting for Bettman, I saw a 20-something fan have a female friend paint a maple leaf on his chest, and EBERLE 14 on his back. It was right outside the NHL executives lounge, so they all got a laugh. Doug Wilson, the Sharks GM, was considering asking to have a maple leaf inked on his forehead. I think he was joking.
And in the main event, P.K. Subban has given Canada a 1-0 lead when he banged in a puck in the slot. Canada came out with far more jump tonight than Sweden. Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi might want to check his teammates' shorts.
More from the second period.
Jan. 5 - 5:05 p.m.
It's 3-1 Russia after two periods. Russia went up 2-0 when Maxim Goncharov jumped out of the penalty box in time to grab a home-run pass and score. Martin Stajnoch scored from the top of the circle to make it 2-1. Tomas Tatar, who's had a great tournament, nearly tied the game with 6 minutes left on a great chance from right in front, but Russia goalie Vadim Zhelobnyuk made a great glove stop.
Nikita Filatov made it 3-1 with 32 seconds left when he scored off an Evgeny Grachev pass.
Earlier I filled out my tournament all-star ballot. Here's what I had:
G- Jacob Markstrom, Sweden
D- P.K. Subban, Canada; Erik Karlsson, Sweden
F- John Tavares, Canada; Cody Hodgson, Canada; Tomas Tatar, Slovakia
Not that it matters, but here would be my second team:
G- Jaroslav Janus, Slovakia
D- Kevin Shattenkirk, U.S.; Maxim Goncharov, Russia
F- Mikael Backlund, Sweden; Nikita Filatov, Russia; Jordan Schroeder, U.S.
Jan. 5 - 4:20 p.m.
We're through one period in the bronze medal game, and Russia leads 1-0 on Pavel Chernov's goal. Most of the game was played in the Slovakia end, but Jaroslav Janus continued his strong play, and Slovakia killed off three Russia power plays, including an 18-second two-man advantage.
The 2010 WJC organizing committee met the press before. They'll have big shoes to fill next year. This year's tournament has been the most seen event in WJC history.
Hey, there's my hand and tape recorder on TSN with Pat Quinn. Now the bosses have proof that I'm working. Or at least my tape recorder is.
More from the second period.
Jan. 5 - 1 p.m.
Let's end this religion talk in the game, please. Let's call it separation of church and ice.
It started when Russia's Nikita Filatov said after Saturday's crushing semifinal loss, "God was on Canada's side tonight."
P.K. Subban added to it Sunday when he said, "I listed to Nikita Filatov when he was spekaing to media. He said that God was on our side, and I thiink our team has truly been blessed."
Then this morning, captain Thomas Hickey said, "The hockey gods have been on our sides the last few days."
I'm not what you would call an overly religious person, but this is a bit much for me. But Canada coach Pat Quinn put things in the correct perspective this morning, and hopefully ended the discussion.
"You don't pray for victory," he said. "We prepare hard, we work hard. I can't imagine God sitting there making decisions like that. He's got other things to do."
Amen to that.
OK, I'm off the soapbox. Things are starting to pick up in the media room. The bronze medal game between Russia and Slovakia starts at 3:30 p.m. ET, and you can catch it live on the NHL Network and TSN. And the main event starts at 7:30 p.m. ET, also live on NHL Network and TSN. And I'll be blogging the day -- and night -- away. So click back early and often.
Jan. 5 - 12:50 a.m.
A great end to a pretty bland game. James van Riemsdyk pulled out the between-the-legs goal to win it in overtime for the U.S.
With nothing of significance on the line, give credit to both teams for playing a nasty, physical game that showed they cared. The brawl in the third between U.S. defenseman Teddy Ruth and Czech captain David Stitch was wild. The refs really seemed to lose control of that one, and Stitch seemed to completely lose all his senses, wrestling with the referee and flinging his helmet down before he left the ice. Fifty penalty minutes is a new single-game record. Congratulations.
Then Jordan Schroeder just buried a Czech player. I watched the third period from behind the Czech goal, so Schroeder's play happened right in front of me. He left his feet to deliver the hit and could have gotten worst than a minor.
Just when it looked like Czech goalie Tomas Vosvrda was about to Janus the U.S. (yes, the Slovakia goalie now is a verb), cade Fairchild scored through traffic, and then the U.S. pulled out the win.
Does it matter? Well, as Colin Wilson said, "Fifth is better than sixth."
Can't argue with that logic.
Tomorrow (actually, later today) should be a great finish to a great tournament.
Until then, good night and good hockey.
Jan. 4 - 9:05 p.m.
Still 1-0 U.S. U.S. has had chances to build the lead, but they're 0-for-5 on the power play. And wiht 2:20 left, Colin Wilson and Danny Kristo were robbed from point-blank range.
U.S. out-shooting Czechs 33-14 after two periods, but Czech goalie Tomas Vosvrda is pulling a Jaroslav Janus and shutting the U.S. down.
Game's getting pretty chippy, lots of post-whistle pushing and shoving.
More from the third period. Hopefully the energy between the whistles picks up.
Also, Latvia finished off Kazakhstan 7-1. That means Latvia and Finland stay at the top level for 2010, while Germany and Kazakhstan drop down to Division I for next year.
Jan. 4 - 8:15 p.m.
First period is over, and U.S. still leads 1-0. U.S. out-shooting Czechs 22-8, but have just the one goal to show for it. They ended the first with a 14-second two-man advantage, but were unable to capitalize.
This got forgotten with all the drama of Saturday night, but relegation play ends tonight. Kazakhstan lost twice more to earn a spot in Division I next year. It also looks like Germany will be going down, also. Germany lost 3-1 to Finland earlier today, and with Latvia leading Kazakhstan 2-0 in the third period, it looks like Latvia will stay in the main draw for 2010.
More from the second period.
Jan. 4 - 8 p.m.
Fairly sparse crowd, which isn't much of a surprise.
Eric Tangradi scored the game's first goal, off a Mitch Wahl pass just after a U.S. power play ended.
U.S. seems to have the better of play early, out-shooting the Czechs 15-4 through the first 13 minutes of the game.
Jordan Schroeder almost had a tap-in on a second power play. This one has the potential to get ugly fast, I think.
Jan. 4 - 7:25 p.m.
Yes, I know it's been a while, but I have been busy. Talked to Canadians and the Swedes about what should be a great gold-medal game Monday night. My preview should be up on the front page of NHL.com by now.
Also got to spend some time with P.K. Subban. They should bottle whatever is inside that kid and give it out every other young hockey player. Smart, funny, dynamic personality -- and he's a hell of a player. The NHL needs a lot of P.K. Subban's.
Also spent some time with Jordan Schroeder, the top U.S. player for the 2009 Entry Draft, and I talked to a few scouts and personnel people about what kind of tournament he's had and where his draft stock is.
The puck will drop in a few minutes in the battle for fifth place between the U.S. and the Czech Republic. As I guessed earlier, Josh Unice will be in goal for the U.S. The Czechs also will start their back-up goalie, Tomas Vosvrda. Vosvrda played 36 games in the WHL last year with Medicine Hat, but returned to the Czech Republic this season.
More once the game starts.
Jan. 4 - 2:10 p.m.
Just talked to Slovakia goalie Jaroslav Janus. He confirmed that he gave his stick to the fans after he beat the U.S. How do you not love this kid?
"It's just a stick," he told me. Just a stick? That thing would have a permanent place in my trophy case.
Some little girl went home Friday night especially happy.
Jan. 4 - 1:10 p.m.
Both Czech Republic and the U.S. had pretty light practices. With nothing but pride on the line, there was nothing to get too stressed about.
The Czechs players kept it light, mostly working on battling down low and knocking in pucks from in close. The U.S. payed what looked like kill the man with the ball on skates. What started as keep-away turned into 10 or 12 guys piling into the corners after pucks. coach Ron Rolston just stood at center ice and laughed.
The players said it was just a fun time, a chance for one final practice together before they all go their separate ways.
In talking to a few U.S. players, they still seem pretty shocked that they really lost in the quarters.
Rolston didn't say who would start in net, but there's no reason not to give Josh Unice his first start.
Canada practices in about an hour. I'll have more after they meet the masses.
Jan. 4 - 10:55 a.m.
So we're back at Scotiabank Place, my new home away from home.
Man, this Slovakia story continues to get better. One of the arena workers told me after they beat the U.S., goalie Jaroslav Janus handed his goalie stick over the glass to a couple of kids, and then came back and autograhed it. What a story.
Spotted this morning at the hotel -- Paul Kelly from the NHLPA saying hello to IIHF president Rene Fasel.
Have to correct something I've been writing -- the U.S.-Czech Republic game will not be on the NHL Network tonight. According to Dave Fisher from USA Hockey, the network chose not to televise this game. But fear not, I will be here blogging away, keeping you as updated as possible.
The talk around the arena this morning still is what happened between Canada and Russia last night. It was one of those games you'll remember for a long, long time. Hopefully the last three games here at Scotiabank Place are just as good.
Back with more after the U.S. skates.
Jan. 4 - 1:25 a.m.
What an amazing night of hockey. An amazing day, really. First Sweden rallied in the third period to end the Cinderella Slovakia's trip through the tournament.
And then there was Canada. If people thought the U.S.-Canada game New Year's Eve was great, they need to invent some new superlatives for what we saw in the semifinals.
When Canada won, it was like an entire nation exhaled.
Russia was 5.4 seconds away from pulling the upset. Nikita Filatov barely spoke above a whisper and left the interview area not long after arriving. It had to be one of the worst moments of his hockey life.
Canada coach Pat Quinn was rightfully complimentary of Russia. They never gave up and answered every Canada shot with their own equally effective counterpunch. I thought for sure that Esposito's shorthanded goal would be the clincher, but Russia came right back and scored, and then Cody Goloubef looked to kick the puck off Dustin Tokarski's stick and into the net to put Russia up with 2:20 left. That looked to end it, but then Jordan Eberle found the tastiest cookie he'll ever find and tied the game again. Just wonderful hockey. It helped that both teams hated each other, which made every shift so competitive.
Quinn was great after the game; he was really enjoying the moment. The first thing he did in the post-game press conference was call The Hockey News' 5-foot-4 Ken Campbell the Hockey Jockey.
Later, he dropped another gem: "Two nights we got out by the skin of our teeths. Hard to do if you're Bob Clarke."
Looking forward to Monday night, but first there's the fifth-place game between the U.S. and the Czech Republic at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, and the bronze-medal game at 3:30 p.m. Monday between Slovakia and Russia. And then at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, it's Canada vs. Sweden for the title. All the games can be seen live on the NHL Network. And as always, I'll be blogging and writing my little fingers off.
As always, good night and good hockey.
Jan. 4 - 10:15 p.m.
Lots of end-to-end action in the overtime, but not many great scoring chances. The Zambonis are on the ice to get ready for the shootout.
I've been debating with my colleague Brad Holland about the shootout deciding this game. I don't like it. Medals or titles shouldn't be awarded in a shootout. Brad feels differently. My blog, so it means I'm right.
Jan 4 - 10 p.m.
Just unbelieveable. Just when it looked like the Drive for 5 had gone off the tracks, Jordan Eberle scores a miracle goal with 5.4 seconds left. We're going to overtime.
Jan. 4 - 9:50 p.m.
Evgeny Grachev blew past Tyler Myers when Myers was soft on the puck at the Russia blue line and tied the game 3-3 just 51 seconds into the third.
Canada went down a man, but Angelo Esposito lit up the crowd with a great shorthanded goal that electrified the sell-out crowd.
It didn't last. P.K. Subban was sent off for tripping to give Russia a two-man advantage, and Sergei Andronov made them pay.
This is setting up for a wild finish.
Jan. 4 - 9:10 p.m.
Playing most of the second half of the second period on the power play had to work for Canada eventually. Russia taking far too many penalties against a team the caliber of Canada. Giving them back-to-back 5-on-3s is a recipe for disaster.
Jordan Eberle converted on the second two-man advantage. Cody Hodgson's pass hits Vjacheslav Voinov in the arm and bounces onto Eberle's stick, and he buries it at 16:20.
Canada turning the game into a shooting gallery. Russia can't get any offense going because they can't get off the penalty kill.
Very chippy game, lots of late, borderline hits on both sides. You can tell there's lots of bad blood between the teams, a lot of it going back to June's World U-18 Championship title game, when Canada whipped Russia 8-0.
Canada up 3-2 heading to the third. Back with more in a bit.
Jan. 4 - 8:55 p.m.
Nice to see Tyler Myers is back on the ice.
Canada let a great chance slip away. They had a 20 second two-man advantage, but couldn't come through. We're still tied 2-2 with about 5 minutes left in the second.
Jan. 4 - 8:40
Tyler Myers just limped off the ice. He took a shot in the left knee or thigh. He was down for a while for leaving with some help.
We're still 2-2 here. Tough tripping call on Stefan Della Rovere put Russia on the power play, but Canada has just about killed it off.
Jan. 4 - 8 p.m.
Anything you can do, I can do better. And that's why we're 2-2 so far.
Canada is winning more puck battles, but two small mistakes was all Russia has needed to capitalize.
Evander Kane, the late addition to the Canada roster, was responsible for both goals. He worked with Stefan Della Rovere to win a puck battle in the corner to the right of the Russia net and drew an assist on Brett Sonne's goal just 2:02 into the game.
And his work down low with Patrice Cormier set up Canada's second goal at 7:04.
But Alex Pietrangelo tripping on the blue line and a puck that bounced between another player's skates is the reason it's 2-2 instead of 2-0 halfway through the first.
Jan. 4 - 7:40 p.m.
The clock struck midnight for Slovakia, but they were fun to watch for a while. Tomas Tatar certainly made an impression on the scouts. With 6 goals now, he's tied for second in the tournament.
Slovakia became Canada fans' second-favorite team, which the Slovak players loved, but their coach, Stefan Mikes, had a great answer when asked about the support.
"I think the Canadian fans wanted to have little bit weaker team in the final," he said. He was laughing, and so was the translator.
Dustin Tokarski in goal for Canada, and Zach Boychuk is in the lineup.
Not an empty seat in the house for the introduction of the Canada and Russia lineups for the second semifinal.
More as the game gets underway.
Jan. 4 - 5:45 p.m.
Looks like the dream has come to an end for Slovakia. Sweden scores three times to take a 4-2 lead heading into the later parts of the third.
Mikael Backlund hits his second, and then David Ullstrom found a unique way to score. Rush the net, crash the goalie, land on your rear end and use your stickblade like a pool cue to push the puck over the line. Nice.
Great move by Tedenby to set up Simon Hjalmarsson for the third goal of the period. He went inside-out on two Slovakia defenders. Just a great play.
More to come.
Wild end to the second period. Nichlas Torp's point shot went through Janus, but after a replay, it was ruled to have come after the horn. No replay with the clock from TSN yet. Hopefully soon.
So the period ends 2-1 Slovakia. Tomas Tatar continues to carve his name into scouts' minds. Nice goal from the right circle past Jacob Markstrom's glove. Seems like the Slovak shooters have targeted Markstrom's glove.
Sweden's goal was a beaut. Carl Gustafsson and Mikael Backlund criss-crossed in the Slovakia end, and Backlund ripped a wrister past Janus.
I'm really impressed by Mattias Tedenby, the Devils' first-round pick last June. Strong and totally fearless. He's listed at 5-foot-10, but I'm guessing they measured him in skates. But he gets to all the nasty areas on the ice and produces.
Can't say the same about Victor Hedman. Granted, this is the first time I've seen him in person, and maybe my opinion is skewed by the hype that surrounds him, but I haven't been overly impressed. He does move well, but he's gone half-speed a few times. Has a rocket for a shot and seems to move the puck well. But compared to Tavares, well, I don't see a comparison. At this rate, it would be hard for me to see anyone taking Hedman ahead of Tavares in June.
Then again, maybe this is why I work for a Web site not judging talent for multi-million dollar hockey organizations.
More from the third period.
Jan. 4 - 4:15 p.m.
Oh boy. If last night was the biggest win in Slovakia history, what will it mean if they beat Sweden?
They're a third of the way there, leading 1-0 after one period.
With Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson off for holding, Marek Mertel's point shot somehow eluded the glove of Sweden goalie Jacob Markstrom to make it 1-0 with four seconds left in the first. Interesting how Slovakia's first goal against the U.S. also was a long shot that somehow eluded a goalie's glove.
More to come.
Jan. 4 - 4 p.m.
Where have we seen this before? Slovakia goalie Jaroslav Janus is doing it again, this time to Sweden.
First he killed off a four-minute Sweden power-play, and then he snuffed out another Sweden advantage of his own making -- he was called for shooting the puck over the glass.
As a wise NHL.com commentator pointed out, Janus is the Roman god of gates and doors. And once again he seems to be slamming it shut on another team.
You have to wonder if Janus and Slovakia escape the first tied or ahead if Sweden will get nervous and start aiming their shots.
More as things progress.
Jan. 3 - 3:20 p.m.
Serendipity is a beautiful thing. I bumped into Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill asked him about Thomas McCollum, their 2008 first-round pick. McCollum had a pretty tough week, but Nill believes in the long run, dealing with this kind of adversity could be a good thing. I'll have more in my notebook on NHL.com.
I also wanted to talk to someone from the Blue Jackets about Nikita Filatov's performance, and while I'm talking to Jim Nill, over walks Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson to say hello. Howson said beyond the points Filatov's scored, he's been impressed by his leadership. Filatov is captain of this year's Russia entry.
I'll have details of my conversations with Howson as well as Filatov later on NHL.com. Click early, click often.
Jan. 3 -- 12:25 p.m.
Just got back from Canada's availability, and a lot of the talk is centered around Russia trying to gain revenge from June's World Under-18 Championship gold medal game, when Canada thrashed Russia, 8-0. Five members of that Canada team are here in Ottawa, as well as coach Pat Quinn. Most of the Russia team is here also, including forward Evgeny Grachev, who told some reporters after Friday's win over the Czech Republic that he and his team is looking for revenge for last year.
Speaking of Grachev, an interesting subplot to tonight's game will be the one-on-one battle between Grachev and Canada's Cody Hodgson. The two are teammates with the Brampton Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League. I talked to Hodgson a little bit ago and I'll have some of that conversation a little bit later.
"He's a great hockey player," Hodgson said. "You don't really realize how big he is until you see him as an opponent, though." Grachev, a 2008 third-round pick by the Rangers, is 6-foot-2 and 203 pounds.
Hodgson is no slouch. He's tied with teammate John Tavares for the tournament scoring lead with 12 points.
Should be a fun game tonight. Both games, actually. First semifinal is Slovakia vs. Sweden at 3:30 p.m. ET, then Canada-Russia at 7:30 p.m. You can catch both games live on the NHL Network, and I'll be blog-side, so watch and click. Call it multi-tasking.
Jan. 2 - 11:40 p.m.
The semifinals are set. With Slovakia beating the U.S. and Russia's 5-1 win over the Czechs, it'll be Sweden vs. Slovakia at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, and Canada vs. Russia at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can catch both games live on the NHL Network, and we'll have full coverage here at NHL.com. So watch and click freely. You'll feel better for doing it.
Had the chance earlier in the night to meet Gare Joyce. I'm re-reading "The Night The Lights Went Out," his excellent book on the 1987 fight-marred Canada-Russia World Junior game.
And on Sunday it'll be the U.S. vs. Czech Republic at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday in a battle for fifth place.
Now it's time for some refreshments and sleep.
Good night and good hockey.
Jan. 2 - 9:00 p.m.
Russia goalie Vadim Zhelobnyuk is playing well. He made a great late save on a Czech wraparound attempt to keep the game 1-0 going into the third period.
The folks who will be running next year's WJC in Regina and Saskatoon are on hand to see how the people in Ottawa are running things. Things are going pretty smooth here from what I've seen, so it should be a good lesson.
It looks like the Nikita Filatov experiment at center is over. He's back at left wing, so maybe the folks in Columbus got their answer on Filatov's potential as an NHL center.
More when the teams start the third period
Jan. 2 - 8:15 p.m.
Some of the crowd has cleared out for the second quarterfinal, but a pretty good portion of the 18,042 on hand for the opening game are still here.
Russia leads 1-0 after one period on Sergei Andronov's rebound goal off a Vyacheslav Voinov's point shot at 11:53.
Vadim Zhelobnyuk made a scrambling glove stop early in the first to stop Ondrej Roman, and then denied him on two rebound attempts.
In the first relegation game going on now, Latvia has a 6-1 lead on Germany after two periods.
More to come.
Jan. 2 - 6:50 p.m.
All the good things in hockey you could see at the end of Slovakia's win over the U.S. Win or lose in the semis, they won their gold medal tonight. A number of the players said this was the biggest win in their country's history.
Watching the Slovakia players spill off the bench reminded me of the final scene in Miracle, when the U.S. players toss all their equipment in the air as they celebrate on the ice. And then they stood arm in arm across the blue line, mugging for the TV cameras. Tomas Tatar said the game was televised live at home.
You could still hear the players celebrating 10 minutes after the game in their locker room while interviews were going on in the mixed zone.
The U.S. team was certainly disappointed, but in a single-elimination tournament a hot goalie can steal a game, and that's what Jaroslav Janus did tonight. He single-handedly stole that game from the U.S., from the penalty shot stop in the first minute to the two saves in the last one on Mitch Wahl and Kevin Shattenkirk.
I'll have more quotes from the mixed zone in a bit, so stay tuned to NHL.com.
Jan. 2 - 5:45 p.m.
Richard Panik just made it 4-2 Slovakia when he knocked a puck out of the air and past Thomas McCollum to make it 4-2 with about 8 minutes left.
Panik is the top-rated Slovakia skater for the 2009 Entry Draft.
Jon Blum got the U.S. within a goal when he knocked in a loose puck in the crease at 5:31 of the third, but that's as close as they were able to get. Best the U.S. will be able to do now is fifth place, against the loser of tonight's Russia-Czech Republic game.
More later with some post-game comments.
Jan. 2 - 5:05 p.m.
I would have blogged sooner, but like the U.S. team, I kept missing my computer high and wide. Bad joke, I know, but that's where most of the U.S. chances have gone.
Pretty desultory second period for the U.S. They're outshooting Slovakia by more than a 3-to-1 margin, but have nothing to show for it. They've wasted a few power plays, and they look stiff and more worried about losing than playing their game.
Save of the game by Jaroslav Janus, who absolutely stole one from Tyler Johnson with about 3 minutes left. U.S. rush and the puck bounced right onto Johnson's stick. Janus went post-to-post to make a ridiculous glove save. It's been that kind of game for the U.S.
Hope coach Ron Rolston has one heck of a pep talk planned, otherwise his team is 20 minutes from playing in the fifth-place game Sunday.
More from the third period.
Jan. 2 - 4:15 p.m.
It's getting ugly for the U.S. Ian Cole had his shot blocked, and in his rush to get it out of his own end, he hit the linesman with his clear. Jozef Molnar, who blocked the shot, gets the loose puck, shoots, it hits off Cole and gets past Thomas McCollum.
The period is over -- mercifully, for the U.S. Wouldn't be surprised to see Josh Unice in goal to start the second. Can't blame McCollum for the third goal, but the first two were stoppable.
If the U.S. thought it faced adversity against the Czech Republic earlier in the week, this is a whole new game for them. Not only are they down, but the Slovakia goalie, Janus, is playing real well. He withstood the early U.S. avalanche of shots, stopped Jordan Schroeder on the penalty shot, and could be hard to beat as the game goes on.
More to come.
Jan. 2 - 4:05 p.m.
Sorry for the delay, but I was going over some notes from Sweden's practice here at Scotiabank Place. The big news is Sweden coach Par Marts has split up his defense pairing of Victor Hedman and Erik Karlsson. Marts thought Karlsson had the puck too much, which got Hedman out of sync offensively. Hedman now will play with David Rundblad. I'll have more on this on a piece that should be up on NHL.com soon.
Also in talking to the Swedish players, they seem most impressed with Jordan Schroeder. That club seems to be growing by the day.
Wow, two not very impressive goals have Slovakia up 2-1. Adam Bezak, who scored the tying goal in the prelim final against Finland, went end-to-end and fired a shot off the rush that ticked off Thomas McCollum's glove and went in.
And then after the U.S. lost a battle along the wall in it's own end, Tomas Tatar, who scored the shootout winner against Finland, flipped a knuckling backhander that fluttered past McCollum.
Ian Cole has the U.S. goal. He pinched in on a U.S. power play and one-timed a Colin Wilson pass behind Jaroslav Janus.
More in a bit.
Jan. 2 - 1:35 p.m.
Welcome to Ottawa! Just setting up camp here at Scotiabank Place. My flight landed in snowy Ottawa about 10:30 a.m. Flyers front office and scouting staff were on my flight from Philadelphia, including team president Peter Luukko, GM Paul Holmgren and top scout Chris Pryor.
Sweden is on the ice now practicing; they'll get the winner of tonight's late game, between Russia and the Czech Republic.
The U.S.-Slovakia game starts at 3:30 p.m. ET. Don't miss the live coverage on the NHL Network.
That's it for now. I'll be blogging during the game, so keep one eye on the TV and one on NHL.com.
Dec. 31 - 10:10 p.m.
This is the kind of game that makes you forget all the 15-0 and 12-0 blowouts. Canada 7, U.S. 4. The U.S. jumped out to a 3-0 lead, Canada battled back, a see-saw 60 minutes of great hockey. It looked like an up-tempo Stanley Cup Playoff game. Imagine if there was a medal on the line.
Tavares added an empty-netter for the hat trick, and he did by holding Jordan Schroeder off with one and pushing the puck into the net with the other. Very impressive. He finished the preliminary round with 8 goals in four games. He obviously was player of the game for Canada.
Colin Wilson, who could have had a hat trick of his own were it not for Dustin Tokarski's best saves of the game, was the U.S. best player. There was Tokarski's amazing glove save at the end of the second, and then Wilson was denied twice more in the game's final minutes.
Tyler Ennis also added an empty-netter for the final margin.
After the game, 20,000-plus rabid fans singing the Canadian national anthem was pretty cool, too.
So the quarterfinal round is set, with Canada and Sweden earning byes into the semifinals. At 3:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Russia will play the Czech Republic, while the U.S. will face Slovakia at 7:30 p.m. Both games can be seen live on the NHL Network.
It's a day off tomorrow, both for the tournament and for the blog. Happy New Year, and we'll see you on Friday, when I'll be live in Ottawa for the games.
Good night and good hockey.
Dec. 31 - 9:45 p.m.
Jordan Schroeder's assist on Jon Blum's goal was his 14th in World Junior playing, tying him for the all-time U.S. lead with Doug Weight.
Now the goaltenders are stepping up, especially Thomas McCollum. He helped denied Angelo Esposito after he blew past Kevin Shattenkirk, helped kill a U.S. penalty just after the midpoint of the period, and was calm while a puck was loose in the crease.
The U.S. hasn't beaten Canada at the World Juniors since the 2004 gold-medal game. They'll have to work awfully hard over the final 7-plus minutes to end that streak.
Dec. 31 - 9:15 p.m.
In an offensive explosion, the goaltenders came up huge to keep it a one-goal game for Canada. First, Colin Wilson was wide open all by himself with the puck, he goes forehand to backhand, fakes Tokarski to the ice … and then Tokarski snares a backhand like Ozzie Smith grabbing a bouncer up the middle. Just spectacular.
At the other end seconds later, Thomas McCollum robbed Patrice Cormier on a breakaway, all the final two minutes.
Angelo Esposito then took the puck from Teddy Ruth -- the Capitals prospect not having a good game -- with the puck rolling to Chris DiDomenico. He sent the puck back to Esposito, but he shot it wide in the period's final minute.
After 40 minutes, it's 5-4 Canada.
Meanwhile, Tomas Tatar, the top-ranked Slovakia skater for the 2009 Entry Draft, put his team into the next round by scoring the shootout winner to beat Finland. Slovakia next plays the loser of the U.S.-Canada game in the next round.
More to come in the third period.
Dec. 31 - 9 p.m.
More hitting and more scoring in the second period, with each in equal proportion.
Boychuk's goal was a nice bit of hand-eye coordination. First he dropped a pass for Thomas Hickey, and his shot was tipped by Chris DiDomenico. The puck rolled up McCollum's arm and Boychuk knocked it down and scored.
The U.S. tied the game on a power play goal by captain Jonathan Blum took a pass from Jordan Schroeder and pinched down below the right circle. He threw a puck in front that went off Brett Sonne and went in.
The tie didn't last too long, though. A hit-to-the-head penalty on Mike Hoeffel led to another Canada power-play goal. McCollum stopped Ryan Ellis' blast, but Cody Hodgson put in the rebound through traffic.
Also, Adam Bezak scored 8:32 into the third period to help Slovakia tie Finland 3-3 and send the game to overtime.
Dec. 31 - 8:30 p.m.
Games like this can turn at the blink of an eye, as John Tavares scored twice in 48 seconds to make it a one-goal game, and then Jordan Eberle tied it with the second power-play goal of the period.
All it took was a fumbled puck in Teddy Ruth's skates allowing Tavares to score into a nearly open net for a power-play score, and a broke stick by Ryan McDonagh that gift-wrapped the puck in the U.S. end for Tavares to bury his seventh of the tournament thanks to a brilliant toe-drag around a diving McDonagh.
Another penalty on the U.S. led to Eberle tying the game when McDonagh left him all alone on the doorstep.
Beside the scoring, now it's getting really chippy, and Stefan Della Rovere is right in the middle of it.
First, Chris DiDomenico was clipped by a stick from a skater sitting on the U.S. bench. After some words and pushing, Della Rovere sucker-punched James van Riemsdyk. No penalty was called then, but Della Rovere was sent off for hitting Shattenkirk from behind, and also got a 10-minute misconduct.
It's 3-3 after one period. Back with more in a bit.
Dec. 31 - 8:05 p.m.
The U.S. was plagued by slow starts in its first three games, but there was no sign of that early. Two goals off the rush and a five-on-three goal has the U.S. out to a 3-0 lead 12 minutes into the game.
First Kevin Shattenkirk fired a rocket-wrister past Dustin Tokarski just 3:49 into the game. Then after a pair of penalties on Canada, the U.S. took advantage of the five-on-three when Eric Tangradi went below the goal line and threw a perfect pass in front to Jimmy Hayes a score at 7:15.
And Jimmy O'Brien just scored from the same spot as Shattenkirk to make it 3-0. It looked like a shot Tokarski should have stopped. Should Chet Pickard start loosening up for Canada?
Earlier, Sweden finished off Russia, 5-0, to earn a bye into the semifinals, and Czech Republic beat Kazakhstan 10-2.
And Finland, with a spot in the medal round on the line, leads Slovakia 2-1 in the second period.
More as the action from U.S.-Canada continues.
Dec. 31 - 4:20 p.m.
One period down, and so is Kazakhstan. Vladimir Ruzicka has a pair of goals and an assist and Tomas Knotek, the Halifax Mooseheads center, has a pair of goals to give the Czech Republic a 6-1 lead after 20 minutes.
New Jersey Transit and an early train home beckon. More to come later.
Dec. 31 - 4 p.m.
It finally happened. At 7:17 of the first period against the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan did it -- they scored a goal. For those scoring at home -- or anywhere else -- give the goal to Oleg Onichshenko.
The goal cut the Czech Republic lead to 3-1, but another goal at the halfway point put the Czechs up 4-1.
The second period just ended on the early game, and Sweden still leads Russia 4-0.
More to come.
Dec. 31 - 3:30 p.m.
It looks like Sweden will putting it's collective feet up for a few days. Andre Petersson must be enjoying his stay in Ottawa -- certainly the Senators fans are happy with their team's 2008 fourth-round pick -- because he scored his second goal of the game at 16:50. And 41 seconds later, Mikael Backlund converted another power-play goal to make it 4-0 after one period.
Russia yanked goalie Danila Alistratov for Vadim Zhelobnyuk after the fourth goal. Not a good sign.
Back with more in a bit.
Dec. 31 - 3:05 p.m.
Halfway through the first period and Sweden has jumped to a 2-0 lead on Russia. Andre Petersson scored off a Mattias Tedenby feed 5:01 into the game, and then Simon Hjalmarsson scored his team-best third goal at the 10-minute mark.
Back with more in a bit.
Dec. 31 - 2 p.m.
Had a chance to catch up with Dave Starman, NHL Network analyst who worked Tuesday's 12-0 U.S. shellacking of Kazakhstan. The U.S. had a pretty dispirited start to the game, picked up the pace late in the first and buried their opponents in the second. The third was just gravy.
Starman said the tipping point for the U.S. was a late power play that led to their first goal, which started the onslaught.
"That (power play) seemed to get them in an offensive flow," he said. "They finally got some traffic in front and got a few greasy goals. The first goal opened the floodgates, as it usually does in these type of games."
That leads to tonight's major meeting with Canada. The winner earns a bye into the semifinal, and as my colleague Brad Holland wrote, 10 of the last 12 teams to get the bye advance to the gold-medal game.
It's hard to judge the U.S. after a game like last night's but Starman believes the U.S.'s size will wear down Canada, and he gives them the edge.
"I think they can beat Canada because Canada doesn't match up with them physically and (Colin) Wilson's line is as good as (Zach) Boychuk's," said Starman. "Goaltending might be better on the Canadian side, but let's be honest, Canada's goalies haven't been tested yet, whereas (Thomas) McCollum had to be pretty good in the latter stages against the Czechs.
"This will be a game of momentum swings, and how each team handles that and their own discipline will determine the game."
It starts at 7:30 p.m. ET tonight on the NHL Network in the U.S. and TSN in Canada.
The other big game is Russia against Sweden, with the winner receiving the other bye. That game starts at 2:30 p.m.
The loser of that game will play the Czech Republic (which faces Kazakhstan today at 3:30 p.m.), while the loser of the U.S.-Canada game will play the winner of today's match between Finland and Slovakia (6:30 p.m.).
One other note -- going into today's games, nine of the 16 matches had been decided by five or more goals. Of the 93 games played in the previous three World Juniors, there had been 11 games with five-goal spreads.
Dec. 30 - 10:05 p.m.
The U.S. finally put Kazakhstan out of its misery with three goals in the third to take it 12-0. In three games, Kazakhstan has been outscored 36-0. Their defense should be sponsored by Geico -- because scoring on them seems so easy, even a caveman could do it.
The U.S. got a 5-on-3 advantage when Kazakhstan's Dmitri Tikhonov threw a flying elbow at Drayson Bowman's head at the same time Oleg Onichshenko was being called for hooking. Mike Hoeffel scored when Andrei Yankov lost his composure and shoved Jimmy Hayes in the crease before the whistle blew.
Jim O'Brien drove to the net and Hayes poked in the rebound of his shot to make it 10-0, and Mitch Wahl and Matt Rust added late goals to close the scoring.
The final shot total was 61-10 for the U.S.
Defenseman Cade Fairchild was named the U.S. player of the match; Kazakhstan captain Nikita Ivanov won it for his team.
It's hard to judge just how good the U.S. was in this kind of game. They started slow and seemed to rev things up late in the first, then won the game in the second. The third was about just finishing things off without getting sloppy or injured heading into tomorrow's clash with Canada.
That's it from here. We'll be back tomorrow with four games, including two big ones -- Sweden vs. Russia at 2:30 p.m. ET, and the U.S. vs. Canada at 7:30 p.m., live on the NHL Network and TSN.
Good night and good hockey.
Dec. 30 - 9:30 p.m.
U.S. captain Jonathan Blum, who took a high-stick in the mouth in the first period, will not play in the third period. I think the U.S. will be fine without him, and Blum is expected to be fine for the New Year's Eve clash with Canada.
Kazakhstan goalie Andrei Yankov just made the save of the game, sliding post to post to stack the pads and deny Ryan McDonagh in the first minute of the period.
Dec. 30 - 9:10 p.m.
Night and day from the first to second period for the U.S. A great end-to-end rush by defenseman Ryan McDonagh led to Danny Kristo's first goal of the WJC to make it 7-0, and then Aaron Palushaj's second goal of the game made it 8-0 to close the second 20 minutes of action.
"It took us a while to get things rolling," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said on the NHL Network. "We got back to the simple things and that got things rolling for us.
Shots on goal are 39-3 for the U.S. The third period will be about staying healthy and following their game plan.
"It's a game where we have to get back to forming good habits," said Shattenkirk, "and the third period is the same thing."
In the other game, Finland finished Latvia, 5-1, for its first win of the tournament.
More during the third period, which the U.S. will start with 1:46 of power-play time -- like they need the help.
Dec. 30 - 8:45 p.m.
The U.S. kept up the push to start the second.
First Colin Wilson scored 52 seconds into the second period off a James van Riemsdyk pass. Then 19 seconds later, they switched spots as Wilson set up van Riemsdyk for his fourth of the tournament.
Van Riemsdyk added another at 4:26 of the period when he tipped in a Kevin Shattenkirk point shot to make it 6-0.
Took a while, but the U.S. now looks to be in control.
Dec. 30 - 8:20 p.m.
It took them nearly the entire first period, but the U.S. finally began to assert itself late in the first period and led 3-0 after 20 minutes of hockey.
First, Jordan Schroeder won an offensive zone faceoff on the U.S.'s third power play of the game. Kevin Shattenkirk jumped on the loose puck and passed to Ian Cole. Cole's blast from the right point went through a perfect James van Riemsdyk screen.
Just 41 seconds later, Matt Rust and Aaron Palushaj cycled the puck down low, and Palushaj's sharp-angle shot beat Yankov short-side.
The U.S. made it 3-0 just 61 seconds later when Drayson Bowman scored.
A great final four minutes, but not such a great first period.
In the other game, Finland still leads Latvia 5-1 after two periods.
More in a bit.
Dec. 30 - 8 p.m.
It's halfway through the first period, and the U.S. looks incredibly unimpressive. Almost like they thought they could toss the sticks out there and win. Andrei Yankov has stopped the chances the U.S. has had, but most have come from the outside.
U.S. had an early power play, but there were no significant scoring chances.
Meanwhile, give Mikael Granlund 2 goals on the night as Finland leads Latvia 5-1 in the second period.
Kazakhstan on the power play; Aaron Palushaj sent off for goaltender interference.
Power play lasts 12 seconds as Jonathan Blum gets clipped with a high stick to even things up.
More as action unfurls.
Dec. 30 - 7:45 p.m.
Ondrej Roman finished with 2 goals and an assist as the Czech Republic knocked off Germany, 6-0, and sent the Germans to the relegation round.
Mikael Granlund, the 16-year-old Finland forward, scored to put his team ahead 3-0 on Latvia in the second period.
The U.S. and Kazakhstan are just getting started. Thomas McCollum in goal for the U.S., Andrei Yankov for Kazakhstan. Yankov played the first two periods of the 15-0 loss to Canada, and while this may sound weird, he didn't play badly. He reminds me a young Arturs Irbe.
More to come.
Dec. 30 - 5 p.m.
This is the kind of game Russia has been looking from Nikita Filatov. He picked up his first assist of the tournament when he set up Sergei Andronov's goal to make it 7-1. The four-point game put Filatov among the tournament scoring leaders with 6 points in three games.
It's also a four-point game for Andronov, who also had 3 assists.
Sergei Korostin just added a goal to make it 8-1 … and we've gone final.
Meanwhile, Ondrej Roman scored his second goal of the tournament with 4:02 left in the second to put the Czechs up 3-0.
New Jersey Transit calls. Don't forget -- 7:30 p.m. on the NHL Network, it's the U.S. vs. Kazakhstan.
Dec. 30 - 4:30 p.m.
The Czechs have jumped to a 2-0 lead on Germany after one period. Germany started Timo Pielmeier in goal … I wonder if there was talk of going with Philipp Grubauer after his impressive game against Canada? Perhaps coach Ernst Hofner will have a short leash.
David Stitch and Zdenek Okal scored power-play goals 2:04 apart in the first for the Czechs.
Russia still leads Slovakia 6-1 in the third.
Back with more in a bit.
Dec. 30 - 4 p.m.
Hats off to Nikita Filatov, who scored his third of the game at 9:15 of the second to make it 6-1 and tie him with John Tavares for the tournament lead with 5 goals.
Igor Golovkov had scored earlier in the period to put Russia ahead 5-1.
Slovakia has changed goalies, but unless Russia calls off the dogs, this one could turn into another blowout. Six of the first 12 games have been decided by five or more goals, and it's looking like this one could make it seven of 13. And they were considering adding teams to this tournament? As my grandmother used to say, Oy vey!
Dec. 30 - 3:45 p.m.
More from Goncharov -- the defenseman scored again, just 1:05 into the second period. His third goal of the tournament pushed him to the top of the blueliners' goal list, past Canada's P.K. Subban and Sweden's Erik Karlsson.
Could Goncharov be the Coyotes' long-term replacement for Ed Jovanovski? The 6-foot, 176-pound Goncharov will turn 20 in June, and he's got 6 goals and 10 points in 33 games with CSKA Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League.
Now an Adam Bezak boarding penalty has led to Nikita Filatov's second goal of the game, to put Russia up 4-1. His fourth of the tournament ties him with Canada's Jamie Benn for second to John Tavares' five.
It's looking more and more like New Year's Eve should feature two sensational games -- U.S. vs. Canada for the Group A title, and Sweden vs. Russia for the Group B top spot. Something tells me those same four teams could be the last four standing when the semifinal round is played Jan. 3.
Dec. 30 - 3:15 p.m.
Coyotes defense prospect Maxim Goncharov certainly is opening some eyes. He scored his second goal of the tournament with 1:26 left in the first period to give Russia a 2-1 lead on Slovakia after 20 minutes.
Evgeni Grachev was credited with the assist. We'll see if this one sticks; the one he got on Nikita Filatov's opening goal was taken away.
Defenseman Maxim Chudinov has a pair of assists, his first points of the tournament.
Adam Bezak has Slovakia's goal, which came 10 minutes after Filatov started the scoring.
More in a bit.
Dec. 30 - 3 p.m.
We're back with the first of four games today.
It didn't take long for Russia to jump in front of Slovakia as the two of the best Russian players from the 2008 Entry Draft combined to put Russia ahead 1-0. Evgeny Grachev, a third-round pick by the Rangers currently playing in the Ontario Hockey League with the Brampton Battalion, fed Blue Jackets first-round pick Nikita Filatov for his third goal of the tournament just 2:12 into the game.
The most important game starts at 3:30 p.m. ET when Germany faces the Czech Republic. Germany has been relegated to the Division I level in its last four top World Juniors appearances, but with a win over the Czechs, they'll earn a spot in the next round and a place in the 2010 elite-level WJC.
Also, Finland faces Latvia and the U.S. plays Kazakhstan at 7:30 p.m. on the NHL Network.
Dec. 29 - 10 p.m.
The U.S. got its challenge from the Czech Republic on Sunday, and Canada got its from Germany tonight. Germany didn't look intimidated or out of place, and made Canada work for every opportunity.
Zach Boychuk made it 5-1 with another bottle rocket, scoring his second of the game and third of the tournament when he roofed a cross-crease pass from Chris DiDomenico with 4:03 left.
Canada improved to 3-0, but give Germany credit. They've been relegated each of the last four World Juniors appearances. But now, if Germany can beat the Czech Republic on Tuesday, they'll advance to the medal round.
Awarding the player of the match awards was Brian Kilrea, the long-time Ottawa 67s coach who will retire after the season. Grubauer was the obvious selection for Germany's player of the game; he's making himself a player to watch for the 2010 Entry Draft.
Not as clear was why Canada captain Thomas Hickey earned the honor for his side. My choice would have been P.K. Subban just for the way he played in the third period, but I didn't get a vote. Not that Hickey was bad, I just didn't notice him out there; I thought Subban had a jump-off-the-page game.
That's it from here tonight. There's four games Tuesday, highlighted by the U.S. taking on Kazakhstan at 7:30 p.m. ET on the NHL Network. Other games are Russia vs. Slovakia, Czech Republic vs. Germany and Finland against Latvia.
Good night and good hockey.
Dec. 29 - 9:45 p.m.
P.K. Subban very quietly continues to have a very nice tournament. Subban made another goal happen on the power play. Subban made a great move above the circle, spinning away from pressure along the wall to create time and space. He fed a pass down to Jordan Eberle on the left post. Eberle pushed the puck across the crease to a wide-open John Tavares, who poked it in.
Big hit on Angelo Esposito, who was crushed face-first into the end boards by Germany's Denis Reul, a Bruins prospect. Esposito stayed down a for few moments, but skated off under his own power. Reul was assessed a major for hitting from behind and a game misconduct. They'll see each other again at some point back in the QMJHL -- Esposito plays for the Montreal Juniors, Reul for the Lewiston MAINEiacs. Some trash-talking between the benches followed the hit, but that's just some youthful enthusiasm getting in the way of common sense.
Dec. 29 - 9:25 p.m.
Canada comes out flying to start the third period. P.K. Subban charged into the Germany end with the puck. Grubaer made the save, but Evander Kane followed the play and cashed in the rebound to make it 3-1 just 1:04 into the period.
Just realized I've been calling him Grubacher for last little while. I guess that's what happens when you try live-blogging a game with a 3-year-old hanging on you. And if the Grubauer family is reading, I'm sorry.
Dec. 29 - 9:15 p.m.
Germany finally won a puck battle, and it resulted in their first power-play goal of tournament as David Wolf tipped a Sinan Akdag pass past Chet Pickard to make it 2-1.
Canada had two beautiful chances to increase their lead. Cody Goloubef's point shot went between Philip Grubacher's legs, but trickled harmlessly across the goal line. Then, with 2.5 seconds left, Angelo Esposito stole the puck and went in alone on net, but Grubacher denied him.
The third period is about to start. Back soon.
Dec. 29 - 8:45 p.m.
Canada is leading in hits, banging everything in sight. TSN's Pierre Maguire just dropped a Mallachi Crunch reference. Truly, Happy Days. Kids, if you don't get the reference, ask your parents.
Canada now up 2-0 on its second 5-on-3 goal of the game. Ryan Ellis makes like Pele to keep a puck in at the blue line and makes a sweet slap pass to John Tavares at the side of the net. Tavares draws the defense and feeds Jamie Benn in front. Benn settles the puck, takes a deep breath, makes a sandwich, fetches a beverage and then fires a wrister into the back of the net.
Ellis may not be big, but he's going to make some NHL team very happy very soon.
More to come.
Dec. 29 - 8:15 p.m.
Talk the last day or two has been about reducing the number of teams in the World Juniors field from 10 to eight, but according to TSN, there were plans for next year's event in Regina and Saskatoon to increase the field to 12. But after watching Canada eviscerate Kazakhstan 15-0 on Sunday, those plans have been scotched, and the most we'll have next year is 10.
Back to the game -- Canada leads 1-0 after one period. It could have been worst, but Canada missed a few open nets, including when John Tavares left a pass just to the right of an open goal for Chris DiDomenico, but the pass was just behind him.
Germany ended the period on a power play when Jamie Benn was whistled for his second penalty of the period with 1:28 remaining, but Canada easily fought off all but the last 32 seconds, which carries over to the second. Germany entered the game 0-for-15 on the power play in the tournament; it looks like they're about to go 0-for-2 tonight.
More from the second period.
Dec. 29 - 8 p.m.
Canada takes a 1-0 lead on Zach Boychuk's goal. The Germans nearly killed off all of a 58-second two-man advantage, but Tyler Ennis got loose in front. Grubacher made the save, but Boychuk smartly roofed the rebound.
Germany had a chance of its own when Jamie Benn was sent off for charging, but Daniel Weiss had the best chance, but he made one move too many and the puck rolled off his stick.
In all, Canada now is 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.
Chet Pickard at least is being challenged; nice to see he actually needed to work up a sweat at the event.
Back with more in a bit.
Dec. 29 - 7:45 p.m.
The ultimate in marketing -- Canada has joined the NHL by introducing a third jersey for tonight's game against Germany. It's a throwback to the old Summit Series jerseys of the 1970s Cold War days.
Chet Pickard is in goal for Canada. Hopefully he'll get more work than he did against Kazakhstan.
Philipp Grubauer gets his first start for Germany. If he looks familiar to North American fans, its because he's the backup goalie for the Ontario Hockey League's Belleville Bulls.
Look for defenseman Colten Teubert to try to get involved in the offense. Through two games, he's the only Canadian skater without a point.
More as the game goes on.
Dec. 29 - 5 p.m.
In talking with NHL Network's Dave Starman earlier today, he said one of the hallmarks of the tournament when it's held in North America is that the European teams start slow and get better as the tournament goes on. Sweden today looks like a prime example.
Sweden scored five times in the first period against Latvia, and put it into cruise control from there, winning 10-1.
Sweden scored just three goals in each of its first two games, but opened things up today. Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson had 2 goals and 2 assists. Erik Karlsson, the local favorite due to his selection by the Senators in the first round of June's draft, had a goal and 2 assists, as did Blues prospect Simon Hjalmarsson.
Victor Hedman picked up his second point of the tournament, an assist on Karlsson's third-period power-play goal that made it 8-1.
Mark Owuya was in goal for Sweden today, not that they needed anyone. Latvia managed just four shots through the first two periods.
Well, it's time to head home for the night game. Make sure you tune into the NHL Network in the U.S. and TSN in Canada for the Germany-Canada game at 7:30 p.m. ET. Also, check back to this friendly blog for periodic updates.
Dec. 29 - 3:30 p.m.
No messing around for Sweden today, as they jumped all over Latvia in the first period, scoring the game's first five goals and taking a 5-1 lead after one period.
Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, the No. 3-ranked Swedish skater for the 2009 Entry Draft, scored twice, and top Devils prospect Mattias Tedenby had a goal and an assist as Sweden outshot Latvia, 26-1 in the period.
Latvia's one shot, though, in Roberts Jekimovs' goal. So Latvia has a 1.000 shooting percentage, which is pretty darn good. Maybe they should shoot more.
Back with more after the second period.
Dec. 29 - 2:30 p.m.
I caught up with Dave Starman, analyst for the NHL Network's coverage of the World Juniors, for his feelings on the first three days of this year's tournament.
To Starman, the middle periods of the games have been what has struck him.
"The second period has been the determining period in the tournament so far. There were teams that were feeling each other out in the first and the second became Armageddon. The U.S. game against Germany had a slow start, the big period was the second. Canada against the Czechs, they beat them in the second."
Watching Group A, which includes the U.S. and Canada, he said a few players have jumped out at him, including Jordan Schroeder, currently tied for second in scoring with 7 points (3 goals, 4 assists).
"If Jordan Schroeder hasn't grabbed every GM's attention, they haven't been paying attention," he said. "He's been great. Not just on the goals. He's been great in the defensive zone, he's been great on the walls. He's been noticeable on each and every shift. He's established himself."
Schroeder already was projected to be a top-10 pick at the 2009 Entry Draft, and all he's done so far is help himself.
Another player who impressed Starman is the tournament's early scoring leader, Canada center Cody Hodgson. Hodgson has 2 goals and 6 assists so far, and Starman said called him "a stud. He's a joy to watch." I'm sure the Canucks, who took Hodgson with the No. 10 pick at the 2008 Draft, feel the same way.
The first game of the day, Latvia vs. Sweden, is about to get under way. I'll be back between periods with an update.
And remember, tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET, it's Canada vs. Germany on the NHL Network in the U.S. and TSN in Canada.
Dec. 28 - 11:15 p.m.
Another night in the books from the 2009 World Juniors, and what did we learn? That on the list of best Draft-eligible players, could Victor Hedman be fourth? So far, John Tavares, Jordan Schroeder and Ryan Ellis all have better numbers than the big Swedish defenseman. Granted part of that could be the teams they've played on, but they first three certainly have looked good thus far. Tavares has a pair of two-goal games, Schroeder has 7 points in two games and Ellis a goal, 2 assists and a team-high 13 shots, including nine against Kazakhstan.
Hedman, meanwhile, has just 1 point, four shots and a plus-2 rating in Sweden's two games. We'll see as the tournament goes on if Hedman picks up his game.
We won't have to wait long, however. Sweden faces Latvia at 2:30 p.m., and Canada comes right back against Germany at 7:30 p.m. With back-to-back games, expect to see Dustin Tokarski back in goal for Canada as Chet Pickard -- not that he worked very hard against Kazakhstan -- heads back to the bench. You'll be able to see all the action yourself as the game will be televised on the NHL Network in the U.S. and TSN in Canada.
And of course, I'll be blogging the night away.
Dec. 28 - 10:15 p.m.
Survival. That's what the U.S. did. Jan Kana's power-play tip of a Tomas Kundratek shot turned the last 3:17 of a game into a full-out scramble.
Thomas McCollum, who didn't have the greatest of outings, made a few great saves late, including a shoulder save from in close on Tomas Knotek, and the U.S. emerged with a 4-3 victory.
It was a good chance for coach Ron Rolston to see how his team would handle adversity, and he didn't seem overly pleased.
"The Czechs played a much better game today," he said. "We had a lot of passengers today and in this tournament you can't have that. We have to bounce back and have a better game against Kazakhstan."
It would be hard to have a better game than Jordan Schroeder, who had 2 goals, an assist and was named the U.S. player of the game. In two games, Schroeder has 3 goals and 4 assists.
The line of Schroeder, James van Riemsdyk and Colin Wilson again had a strong showing. Wilson had an assist and van Riemsdyk had a goal and an assist.
"Your best players have to be your best players if you're going to win hockey games," said Rolston.
If anything interesting comes out of the post-game press conferences, I'll update.
Dec. 28 - 9:50 p.m.
Jordan Schroeder is putting on an absolute show. Can he do enough to get into the top five for the 2009 Entry Draft? If he keeps this up, he will. He forced a turnover along the wall, took a few steps and ripped another short-side wrister for his second goal of the game to put the U.S. up 4-1.
He's playing center and is being used as a floater on the top power play, going from up high to the half wall to the dots and ripping wrist shots.
Sloppy play defensively let the Czechs get back in the game. Thomas McCollum, who hasn't looked really steady, let a puck get through him and trickle along the goal line. All five U.S. skaters collapsed on the net, so no one picked up Martin Paryzek who scored from the high slot to make it 4-2.
The big hit of the game goes to the Czech's Jan Kana, who threw a great shoulder check on Mitch Wahl along the wall in the U.S. end.
The U.S. penalty killing is playing a big role in the game. They're 5-for-5 so far, but the Czechs just went on the man advantage with just under four minutes left.
Back in a bit.
Dec. 28 - 9:30 p.m.
Make it 3-1 U.S. The American squad showed great puck movement on a last-minute power play. Kevin Shattenkirk made a slap pass to James van Riemsdyk at the hash marks. Van Riemsdyk used his great size to shield the puck and then shot it through a perfect Colin Wilson screen for his third of the tournament with 1:26 left in the period.
Give Schroeder another assist, and the top U.S. line is dominating again. It's time for someone creative to come up with a nickname. Leave any ideas in the comment section, and when I head up to Ottawa on Jan. 2, I'll see what the players think.
Two periods in the books, and the U.S. looks like they're picking up steam.
In the other game, Jacob Markstrom stopped 26 of 27 shots to backstop Sweden's 3-1 win against Slovakia. Markstrom, a 2008 second-round pick by the Panthers, has dominated against men in the Swedish Elite League, and looks like he could be the next great European goalie. The victory keeps Sweden on pace with Russia in Group B. Those teams won't meet until the last day of the preliminary round, Dec. 31.
Dec. 28 - 9 p.m.
This is the second time this has happened -- the U.S. scored right after I put up a blog. Jonathan Blum did a nice job keeping a puck in at the blue line. He threw the puck at the net, where Matt Rust, skating through the high slot, tipped it into the Czech net at 11:46 of the period.
Back with more in a bit.
Dec. 28 - 8:50 p.m.
The U.S. has taken too many penalties, and it caught up with them midway through the first. Kevin Shattenkirk was called for holding at 3:04 of the second, and while the U.S. killed off the penalty, the U.S. was scrambling and the Czechs took advantage. Keeping the puck in at the blue line, Zdenek Okal fed Roman Ondrej for the tying goal at 5:14.
The goal seemed to wake the U.S. up a bit, as their forecheck has led to good chances.
In the other game, Slovakia got a goal, but still trails 3-1 late in the third.
Dec. 28 - 8:20 p.m.
It looks Jordan Schroder is going to do everything he can to keep pace with John Tavares for top draft-eligible player. After finishing with a goal and 3 assists against Germany, he got the U.S. started against Czech Republic. Two seconds before the first U.S. power play ended, Schroeder snapped a wicked wrister past Czech goalie Dominik Furch. Just nasty, and nothing he could do about it. Kevin Shattenkirk and Colin Wilson drew the assists on the goal.
Eric Tangradi, the Ducks prospect currently playing for the OHL's Belleville Bulls, looked great, also. Very dynamic with the puck.
Here's a fun fact thanks to the NHL Network broadcast crew -- the U.S. has more outdoor rinks than the Czech Republic, 150-23. Not sure if that includes the rink at Wrigley Field for the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic 2009.
In the other game, Sweden leads Slovakia 3-0 midway through the third period.
The second period of the U.S. game is about to start.
Dec. 28 - 8 p.m.
And … we're back for the night shift. The U.S. fended off an early Czech Republic power play and the game is scoreless past the midpoint of the period. This should be a far greater challenge for the American side as compared to their opening match with Germany.
Wow, Thomas McCollum, the U.S. goalie, nearly put his team in a hole when he fanned on a clearing attempt and nearly knocked into his own net, then got his stick caught on the outside of the post. The Czechs couldn't capitalize on the chance, though.
In the other game, St. Louis prospect Simon Hjalmarsson scored just 62 seconds into the game, and Sweden took a 3-0 lead against Slovakia into the middle of the second period.
Coverage looks pretty good on the NHL Network. I'll be back with more after the first period.
Dec 28 - 6:20 p.m.
As if Canada needed any extra help, they played the last 6:16 of the game on the power play after Kazakhstan's Alexander Kaznacheyev was called for slashing, and then used one of George Carlin's seven words you can't say on TV to the referee to earn a match penalty. P.K. Subban and Stefan Della Rovere scored on the power play, and after another Kazakhstan penalty put Canada up two men, Tyler Myers scored for the final 15-0 margin. The margin of victory tied Canada's all-time record for biggest shutout win, matching their 15-0 rout of France at the 2002 WJC. They also out-shot Kazakhstan 69-11.
Jamie Benn was awarded Canada's player of the match for his hat trick plus 2 assists.
The Kazakhstan players got a nice round of applause from the fans in Ottawa. It's been a tough go for the team, now having allowed 24 goals in two games. And that's with pretty solid goaltending by the beleaguered pair of Andrei Yankov and Maxim Gryaznov, who played the final period.
It's hard to judge just how good Canada is in a rout like this; Monday's match with Germany could be a better test.
Remember to stay tuned to the NHL Network at 7 p.m. for the U.S. vs. Czech Republic.
Dec. 28 - 5 p.m.
What do Sidney Crosby, Todd Harvey and Eric Daze have in common? They all trail John Tavares on the list of all-time power-play goals for Canada at the World Juniors. Tavares slammed in his sixth all-time power-play goal in the second period as Canada took a 9-0 lead.
How dominant has Canada been? Goaltender Chet Pickard could have taken a nap on top of the net and Canada would trail 10-9 after two periods.
Canada coach Pat Quinn certainly called off the dogs after Cody Hodgson scored 1:36 into the second, but the host nation was just too dominant. Chris DiDomenico and Tyler Ennis had goals, and Benn completed his hat trick. Another goal by Benn would tie Canada's single-game World Juniors record, shared by Simon Gagne and Mario Lemieux.
Canada's 17 tournament goals have come off 11 different sticks.
The other game has gone final, as Russia defeated Finland, 5-2. Evgeni Dadonov, a 2007 third-round pick by the Florida Panthers, scored the game-winning goal and added 2 assists, and Nikita Filatov scored once in the first period and again in the second as Russia improved to 2-0 in the tournament.
Back with more when Canada puts a merciful end to its game with Kazakhstan. But regardless of the final, I'm just happy to be able to watch these games thanks to the NHL Network. And remember, we've got Sweden-Slovakia at 6:30 p.m. ET, and the U.S.-Czech Republic on the NHL Network at 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 28 - 4:30 p.m.
There was a report of a member of Canada's 1998 World Junior team sending an e-mail wishing this year's WJC team good luck, and hoping they beat Kazakhstan -- something the '98 team failed to do.
If the first period is any sign of the rest of the game, this year's group need not worry. Jamie Benn scored twice and John Tavares continued to show his playmaking skills by setting up a pair as Canada out-shot Kazakhstan 22-2.
Jordan Eberle and P.K. Subban also scored for Canada. And if you were wondering -- I was -- his given name is Pernell Karl Subban.
If it's possible to allow four goals and play well, Kazakh goalie Andrei Yankov played fairly well. But there's not much you can do when you're the nail and the other team is the hammer.
And there's the check of the game, when 5-foot-4, 148-pound Kazakhstan forward Mikhail Lazorenko took down 6-8, 214-pound Canada defenseman Tyler Myers on the forecheck.
In the other game, Nikita Filatov, held scoreless in Russia's opener, scored twice in the first two periods as Russia holds a 4-2 lead on Finland. Joonas Nattinen, a 6-foot-2 center ranked by NHL Central Scouting as Finland's best player for the 2009 Entry Draft, has a goal for Finland.
Back with more in a bit.
Dec. 27 - 10 p.m.
Slovakia made its World Juniors debut a winning one, scoring the last five goals in a 7-2 win against Latvia. Tomas Tatar, the top-ranked Slovakian skater for the 2009 Draft, had a goal and an assist, and Ondrej Rusnak and Radoslav Tybor each scored twice. Marek Hrivak, No. 2 on the Slovakian list for the '09 Draft, had the game-winning goal midway through the second period.
In the second game, Germany more than recovered from its loss Friday to the U.S. by pounding Kazakhstan, 9-0. Daniel Weiss, the top-ranked German skater for the 2009 Draft, had a goal and an assist. Jerome Flaake, a Maple Leafs prospect, had 2 goals and an assist and was a plus-4, and goalie Timo Pielmeier made 17 saves. Germany out-shot Kazakhstan 52-17.
More action tomorrow, as Kazakhstan faces Canada at 3:30 p.m. ET, followed by the U.S. taking on the Czech Republic at 7:30 p.m. You can catch both games live on the NHL Network in the U.S. and TSN in Canada. Also tomorrow is Sweden vs. Slovakia and Russia vs. Finland.
Until then, good night and good hockey.
Dec. 27 - 7:30 p.m.
The injury bug seems to have bitten Canada again. They lost Dana Tyrell before the tournament started, and now another forward, Stefan Della Rovere, has a bruised shin. He suffered the injury blocking a shot Friday. X-rays showed no fracture, but he left Saturday's practice after 10 minutes due to soreness. P.K. Subban, usually a defenseman, skated as a forward at practice.
Also, coach Pat Quinn announced Chet Pickard will start in goal Sunday against Kazakhstan.
In the first of two games Saturday, Latvia and Slovakia are tied 2-2 after one period.
Back with more in a bit.
Dec. 26 - 10:30 p.m.
John Tavares took the first battle in his personal matchup with Victor Hedman in the fight to be the first pick of the 2009 Entry Draft. Tavares scored Canada's first two goals -- on his only two shots -- assisted on the third goal and was a plus-3. Hedman had two third-period shots and was a plus-1.
Without having seen the games in person it's hard to say who really played better, but the stats seem pretty one-sided.
It was nice to see Canada pay tribute to the late Luc Bourdon, as the players wore LB stickers on their helmets. I happened to be in Toronto at the Scouting Combine when news filtered out of Bourdon's tragic death in a motorcycle accident, and all the scouts and personnel people were tremendously affected by his passing. So it was a pretty great sign of respect for Hockey Canada to do this.
Dustin Tokarski got the start in goal for Canada and stopped 21 of 22 shots. It's not clear if Tokarski has the job full time, or if Chet Pickard will be in goal for Canada's next game, Sunday against Kazakhstan.
Other final numbers for Canada:
Defenseman Ryan Ellis showed he belonged on the team, finishing with a goal and 2 assists. Zach Boychuk, who was held scoreless at last year's event, had a goal and 2 assists against the Czechs.
Well, in the interest of getting my two kids in their own beds before midnight, I'm going to put this blog to rest for the night. We'll be back tomorrow's games, Slovakia vs. Latvia at 6:30 p.m. ET, and Kazakhstan vs. Germany at 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 26 - 10:15 p.m.
Some more notes from the U.S. opening win against Germany.
Thomas McCollum got the start in goal and made 16 saves on 18 shots. Germany's Timo Pielmeier, who is one of the better goaltenders in the QMJHL, was pulled in the second period after allowing five goals on 27 shots.
Spokane Chiefs teammates Drayson Bowman, Mitch Wahl and Tyler Johnson combined for 3 goals and 2 assists. Bowman had a pair of goals and Wahl a pair of assists.
U.S. forward James van Riemsdyk, who scored twice, said he was satisfied with the victory.
"No matter who you are playing, you want to have a good start to the tournament and get the ball rolling," he told reporters in Ottawa. "We wanted to play well, we got rid of some nerves out there and we got better as the game went on.
"We just kept it simple, making chips of the boards and getting the puck in deep. We generated a lot of offence off that."
I'll be back with more when Canada talks about its opening rout of the Czech Republic.
Dec. 26 - 10 p.m.
Sorry for the delay. You know how dinner with the family usually goes. But if you're ever in Atlantic City, I highly recommend the 8-ounce fillet at Nero's at Caesar's. Ask for Donna.
Anyway, since last we spoke, Sweden won the Nordic war with Finland, 3-1. Islanders prospect David Ullstrom set up the first two goals for Sweden.
The second game right now is 8-0 for Canada over the Czechs. John Tavares scored Canada's first two goals and assisted on the third, and Zach Boychuk has a goal and 2 assists. Ryan Ellis, the first 17-year-old defenseman to play for Canada since Jay Bouwmeester in 2001, has a goal and 2 assists.
Earlier, the U.S. opened with a dominant win against Germany. Here's what coach Ron Rolston had to say about the game:
"I thought we were tentative in the first period, but came out and had a much better second. Overall, it was a good start to the tournament."
When your team scores six straight goals and wins 7-2, I guess you can be brief. But if coach Rolston says anything more interesting, I'll add.
Also, I think the Canadians are almost done their beating of the Czechs. Unless they've scored again while I typed this graph.
Dec. 26 - 6 p.m.
Well, the U.S. certainly did OK after a slow start. The final horn just sounded on their 8-2 pounding of Germany. Drayson Bowman scored twice and the U.S. big line of James van Riemsdyk (2 goals), Colin Wilson (goal, 2 assists) and Jordan Schroeder (goal, 3 assists) combined for 4 goals and 5 assists.
It was a good way for the U.S. to start the tournament. Not much pressure for goalie Thomas McCollum, but he made the saves he had to.
It's dinner time where I am, so I'll be back a little later. Stay tuned for Finland-Sweden and Canada-Czech Republic, which you can catch on the NHL Network in the U.S., and TSN in Canada.
Enjoy the hockey while I enjoy a steak.
Dec. 26 - 5 p.m.
The presents are all opened, and my 3-year-old daughter got a Hess truck. Back in the olden days -- you know, before Blackberry, Nintedo Wii and the Internet -- getting a Hess truck was one of the coolest presents around.
Anyway, mark Russia down as the early leader in its group with a 4-1 win against Latvia. Nikita Filatov was held scoreless, but Pavel Chernov had a goal and an assist, and defenseman Maxim Goncharov, a Coyotes prospect, also had goal.
Meanwhile, that tough fight Germany was putting up? Yeah, not so much.
Jordan Schroeder scored 10 seconds into the second period -- every point he gets here pushes him that much closer to a top-10 first-round pick in June -- to make it 3-1, and then he assisted on James van Riemsdyk's goal later in the second. Tyler Johnson, from the defending Memorial Cup Spokane Chiefs, made it 5-1.
We're through two periods, and the U.S. is out-shooting Germany 32-14.
I'll be back later with more.
Dec. 26 - 4 p.m.
So the tournament is underway, and I'm in Atlantic City with the family celebrating Hanukkah. Hope you're watching the U.S. on the NHL Network.
Speaking of the U.S., they seem to be in quite a battle with Germany. Dave Starman, who's working as part of the NHLN broadcast crew, said Germany reminded him of the 1995 Devils, and we know how that team ended up. So far, it looks like he knows just what he's talking about.
Thomas McCollum, the Red Wings prospect, got the start in goal for the U.S. ahead of Josh Unice, a Blackhawks prospect. Sounds like a future Winter Classic meeting.
The U.S. scored first on a two-man power play when Colin Wilson converted from Kevin Shattenkirk. Less than four minutes later, though, Germany's Toni Ritter tied the game.
OK, just looks like the U.S. went back ahead mid-blog when Drayson Bowman scored with 2:09 left in the first.
In the other game, Russia leads Latvia 2-0 after two periods. Vyjateslav Voinov scored late in the first, and Pavel Chernov scored late in the second.
That's it for now. The family is opening presents, so I have to do some real work.
Dec. 25 - 10:30 p.m.
'Twas the night before the tournament
and all was great,
as the players got ready
to lace up their skates.
Gear all hung
in the lockers with care,
ready to go
when the first whistles blare.
So much to watch, so much to see,
I'll learn how to spell Paajarvi.
Hedman and Tavares
are two we'll watch closely,
but don't forget others
like Hodgson and Filatov,
van Riemsdyk and Tedenby.
The first puck drops tomorrow,
right at 2:30.
And that's when the quest for gold
starts at the 2009 WJC.
Sorry, I was never much of a poet, but I'm pretty excited at what's going to take place in Ottawa. This year's tournament should be a pretty great opportunity to see some of the next wave of young talent to hit the NHL.
There are a few players I'm definitely looking forward to seeing. One is James van Riemsdyk, the dynamic power forward who should be a star with the Philadelphia Flyers this time next season. Another is Nikita Filatov; if his shift to center works, you can expect to see him next to Rick Nash in Columbus for the next 10 years.
There's Cody Hodgson, who more than one scout told me was the smartest player in the 2008 Draft, and could emerge as the breakout player at this year's tournament. And Colten Teubert, the big, bruising defenseman the Kings are counting on to be a physical blue line presence in the next few years.
And of course, there's the two biggest names in Ottawa, John Tavares and Victor Hedman. They won't go head to head until the medal round at the earliest. Which is perfect, because that's when I get to Ottawa.
Until then, check back at NHL.com, where I'll be blogging off all the games, the first of which starts at 2:30 p.m. ET tomorrow, when Latvia faces Russia at the Ottawa Civic Center. At 3:30 p.m., the U.S. faces Germany at Scotiabank Place. You'll be able to watch that game, and all the U.S. games, live on the NHL Network. At 7:30 p.m., Canada will play the Czech Republic, and that game also will be on the NHL Network.
So get some snacks and a few beverages, find a comfy chair, and enjoy the games. And stay close to the computer and enjoy all the coverage at NHL.com.