Big day for both the Americans and Team Canada at the World Junior in Edmonton. First up this afternoon is USA vs. Finland at 3:30 p.m. EST from Rexall Place, and there's a lot to play for in this one. The Finns didn't start very well against Canada on Monday and got behind the eight-ball quickly, dropping an 8-1 final in a game that saw Mark Stone notch a hat trick. Canada faces off against the Czech Republic in the night cap, an 8 p.m. start in the same building.
That performance was uncharacteristic for the typically-disciplined Finnish squad, known for its prowess on the power play and on the rush. They only had a handful of quality opportunities in the game, but Canadian goaltender Mark Visentin was equal to the task and yielded just the lone goal. Canada coach Don Hay announced this morning that New Jersey Devils prospect Scott Wedgewood is the starter in goal for Canada, the first for the youngster in his World Junior career.
For the Americans, it's a test because they rolled through their opening game against Denmark. Without a doubt, the competition level goes up a notch vs. Finland and even more so considering the Finns' disappointing tournament opener. Dean Blais will likely start John Gibson of the Kitchener Rangers in goal to get minutes for each of his goaltenders early in the tournament.
Updates from Blue Jackets land at the World Junior:
-- T.J. Tynan is in the lineup today for the Americans, and one thing to watch for is his power-play time. Blais used Tynan on the left point of the USA power play in the opener, and it created one-timers and seam passes. Maybe he will be back in that spot once again this afternoon.
-- Devante Smith-Pelly's tournament-ending injury likely means a significant bump in Boone Jenner's ice time. Jenner was the talk of Canada's opener with a pair of monstrous hits and plenty of shifts on the penalty kill. Smith-Pelly and Jenner play similar styles, and Hay may elect to elevate Jenner in the absence of Canada's captain.