If the return of center Connor McDavid following a five-week layoff proved anything at all Sunday, it was that the 17-year-old hasn't missed a beat.
WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP
The 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship will be held Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 at Bell Centre in Montreal and Air Canada Centre in Toronto. For a complete broadcast schedule of all games on NHL Network-US, CLICK HERE
McDavid, projected as the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, earned an assist while centering the top line for Canada alongside Curtis Lazar (Ottawa Senators) and Nick Ritchie (Anaheim Ducks) in a 5-2 pre-World Junior Championship exhibition victory against Sweden at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.
"Not playing in 40 days, you're about as rusty as you can possible get," McDavid said. "I thought my legs felt pretty good. The game speed was pretty high. Some plays happened pretty quick, but overall, I thought it went alright."
It marked the first game action for the Erie Otters center since Nov. 11 when he sustained a broken pinky finger in his right hand in a fight. He had a few opportunities and played fast and physical.
"He was a little rusty at first, but as you all see, he got better, got into his rhythm and had chances, created some chances, cycled down low and he was able to attack the net," Canada coach Benoit Groulx said when asked about McDavid. "It was good to see him back on the ice playing a game and good to see him controlling the game in the second half. I thought his line had a good game."
McDavid is expected to be in the lineup again when Canada plays its final exhibition game against Switzerland at Bell Centre in Montreal on Tuesday.
Boston University center Jack Eichel, also considered a top-two pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, has played in one of two exhibition games for the United States National Junior Team. He scored a shorthanded goal in a 5-2 victory against his teammates at BU at Walter Brown Arena in Boston on Friday and was a healthy scratch in a 5-2 win against Germany at K Rock Centre in Kingston, Ontario, on Sunday.
The stage is set for both McDavid and Eichel to each play a significant role for their countries at the 2015 WJC in Montreal and Toronto beginning Dec. 26. Canada will open the tournament against Slovakia and the United States against defending champion Finland.