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World Juniors

3 'Star' keys to success for U.S. against Russia in World Juniors

NHL Network analyst Starman says dealing with counterattack, power play will be critical factors

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

The NHL Network will provide exclusive live telecasts of all United States games during the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic.

The United States (1-0-0-1) will play the third of four preliminary-round games in Group B at Ostravar Arena against Russia on Sunday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN). The United States, which won 6-3 against Germany on Friday, also will play the Czech Republic. The playoff round begins Jan. 2.

Longtime NCAA hockey analyst Dave Starman, who will handle the broadcast along with Stephen Nelson, will give his three keys to victory for the United States before each of its games during the 11-day tournament.

"Both teams are younger than usual so expect mistakes," Starman said. "It's a great test in the team building process for the United States. U.S. coach Scott Sandelin knows how to manage personnel in a short tourney. The X-factor to me is U.S. forward Alex Turcotte (Los Angeles Kings), who could be primed to shine under the bright lights. It'll be a great chess match against the often-unpredictable Russia coach Valeri Bragin."

 

1. U.S. North-South

"No, not a Civil War reference, but a strategy one. When they have played a streamlined and linear game, they've been effective. When the ground game has been working, they've scored goals, and their game against Germany was efficient, detailed, and played with good pace. They also got big saves. Russia also wants to play with good tempo to let their skill guys have at it, so I could see a first period that is up and down before this settles a bit. Of all the teams in the tourney I have seen, the Russians look like the quick counter team that could take advantage of bad puck management. The United States must make them defend, shorten the rink, play downhill."

 

2. Russia power play vs. U.S. penalty kill

"The Russians use two units and it's a hybrid 1-3-1 bumper that they run. If you watched Russia against Canada, you saw Ivan Morozov (Vegas Golden Knights) on one unit and Pavel Dorofeyev (Vegas Golden Knights) on the other in the middle of the 1-3-1, but both aren't locked into the mid-slot by the hash marks. They can walk the ladder up higher and also track the puck to opt out in a more east-west fashion to act more in a third-man high, as opposed to the traditional bumper. Lost yet? What this all means is these two, on different units, are very active and draw some coverage concerns for the U.S. forwards. They also create a lot of seams and, to me, the United States has been a little susceptible to the seam pass low (or pass within the coverage as opposed to around it). U.S. assistant coach Steve Miller, a proven winner and brilliant penalty-killing coach, must be itching to match with these two power-play units from Russia. How the United States kills penalties and winning this area, in my opinion, dictates the game. On a side note, the Russia defense corps loves to be in the attack. I expect them to get the green light 5-on-5 to be in the play a lot."

Russia's Ivan Morozov

 

3. Players under the radar now on the radar

"The United States has a few players gaining more ice time. Boston University's Trevor Zegras (Anaheim Ducks) was outstanding against Germany, and BU assistant coach Len Quesnelle told me prior to the tourney that 'Zegras has terrific hands and is not afraid to try and make a high-end play in the offensive zone and is an excellent passer who finds options quickly.' Goals by University of Massachusetts defenseman Zac Jones (New York Rangers) and Northeastern defenseman Jordan Harris (Montreal Canadiens) were big goals and confidence boosters for those two. Jones, who is part of a rebuilt defense at Massachusetts that lost Cale Makar and Mario Ferraro to the NHL after last season's run the NCAA Division I national championship game, has been solid for two games after thriving under progressive Massachusetts coach Greg Carvel in Amherst. Notre Dame's Jake Pivonka (New York Islanders) and Yale's Curtis Hall (Boston Bruins) have also been solid."

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