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World Juniors

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

NHL Network analyst Starman says smart play with puck, Wahlstrom's impact will be huge 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 U.S. (0-0-0-1) will play the second of four preliminary-round games in Group B at Ostravar Arena in the Czech Republic against Germany on Friday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN). The U.S., which lost 6-4 to Canada on Thursday, will also play against Russia and 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 their games during the 11-day tournament.

"The first day of the world juniors can tend to produce some overreactions if a favorite loses," Starman said. "On Thursday, three of the power five lost (Finland, Russia, United States) and the team I have as finishing sixth, Czech Republic, also won. Do you know what that all means? Not much. You can lose a game, even a second in the pool play. The key is building up four games to lead you to Jan. 2." 

"After the loss to Canada on Thursday, there are three things to watch for the U.S. entering their game versus Germany."

 

1. Puck management

"Way too many individual plays relying on trying to make a great play when a simple good play was called for. Turnovers in the grey zones, poor decisions in the middle of the ice, trying to create chances without numbers or good puck support. This was a game the U.S. had, and I think allowed to slip away, because of bad penalties and poor puck decisions. This should serve as a great wake-up call to a few players and will allow the coaches to walk in, stress puck management, and actually have a ton of video to show to support the cause. As I often say, having elite individual skill brings on the responsibility of knowing when you can use it and when a simple, safe, smart play is called for."

Video: Mike Rupp asks trivia questions.

 

2. Penalty killing

"U.S. assistant coach Steve Miller is a brilliant penalty-killing coach and there is no doubt he'll get this straightened out. Seeing three power-play goals against in a tournament opener reminded me of the 10-3 pounding against Denmark in the 2012 WJC opener in Edmonton, when the U.S. allowed all three goals against when shorthanded and it went south after that. That won't happen here. One area I thought the U.S. struggled in, from a penalty-kill standpoint, was it lost a ton of defensive-zone draws, allowed too many uncontested shots, and let's be honest, Spencer Knight wasn't great and your goalie has to be your best penalty killer. I also thought shot blocking and controlling shot lanes was not terrific. This will improve ... it has to."

 

3. Ramping it up against Germany

"On the positive side, Oliver Wahlstrom (New York Islanders) might have appeared to have had a quiet game but I think he's starting to percolate. He was on the ice for two of the three power-play goals by the U.S. and one at even strength. He used his size well at times, showed off his skill at times, had five shots and created some chances. To me, he's a huge cog in the wheel and the Germany game could be the breakout game. I really liked Bobby Brink (Philadelphia Flyers), and Shane Pinto (Ottawa Senators) was really strong. Alex Turcotte (Los Angeles Kings) gave the U.S. a strong game. I keep thinking, like last year with Ryan Poehling (Montreal Canadiens), do you move [Turcotte] him from the wing to center with his size and hands? Poehling started on the wing last year and moved to the middle and was dominant when Jack Hughes (New Jersey Devils) was injured."  

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