OK, so here's some initial thoughts.....
Key (IMO) players/lines/thoughts:
1. Malcom Subban. Much is talked about this kid, Frankly I don't see it and never have. To me this was a political pick and it showed (IMO) this morning in the exhibition game against Finland. Many out west here thought Laurent Broissoit should have made this team, but was crushed in the Memorial Cup last year after standing on his head during the WHL finals Vs. Portland-Subban looked like maybe the 3rd best goalie (if that) in camp, yet gets the nod to start based on past performance. Bad, bad call IMO.
You have a very traditional approach of an OHL coach picking mostly OHL goalies, which is fine IMO because you NEED to know your goaltending......BUT, if Subban can't put it together how long will Team Canada allow it to go before makign the switch to Binnington or perhaps even better Paterson (who is NOT an OHL goalie). This to me may be the most important key to Canada's WJHC gold hopes.
2. The defensive pairing of Wotherspoon/Reinhart. Simply put, Reinhart is THAT talented. The ability of Wotherspoon to continue to be a solid stay at home defender who can make great outlet passes enables Reinhart to be the 4th man in.....and that is gonna be important IMO. Saw a nice glimmer of that today. This pairing to me is the single most capable pairing of dealing with the international game. They have to play spot on.
3. The whole Nuge/Scheif/Rattie hot mess. You already know Nuge and Scheif now, let me welcome you to what hopefully is Ty Rattie's coming out party. Anybody notice how Rattie got double shifted after Ritchie got hurt? There's a reason that Rattie got that assignment....get to know what we already know in Portland.......this kid can flat out skate, create and score. Rattie's game will be enhanced with more space......personally I'd rather see him bumped back down a line to create more effectively for others.
4. Dougie Hamilton. Please get this guy away from Morgan Reilly. This guy has talent and he'll probably be an effective NHL D man, but personally he plays the wrong game for this style of play----especially to be a top D-line pairing with someone of the likes of Reilly. IMO, Reilly's abilities are wasted when having to compensate for Hamilton. Shocker, hamilton takes terrible penalties in exhibition today....now you're shuffling D-lines? imagine that.
1. Development Idealogy. The last time the US won gold at WJHC they had something approximating the number of CHL players they have now. The US team is undoubtably fast, can play D and will certainly benefit form the style of officiating that is found at this type of tournament. The real question of idealogy is the development program of the US national U-18, U-17 programs as placed in the USHL. The USHL looks at itself as a development feeder program to the NCAA hockey system, the US U-18 and U-17 teams are now embedded in the USHL. US nat'l teams play reg season USHL games but are inelgible for playoffs and here's the rub: many in the US feel that this model is not the best way to develop players for international or pro careers. These teams get drubbed often by regular USHL teams and while its great IMO to play against bigger, older, wiser, stronger kids sometimes...some people are suggesting that its setting these kids up for competitive failure. I've seen this argued too many times, too many ways and personally I am not knowledgeable enough on player development in this league (USHL) to argue one way or another. I will say based on my limited observations that the USHL brand of hockey is more inline with collegiate and international play but most definitely lacks the same caliber of players found in even a lower tier CHL team. There is an interesting mix of USHL/US national team alums
and major junior players on this team......it will be interesting to see what the final review is of each set of players is. Maybe more importantly though is the future that the US national team goes based on this tournament result and the future politics surrounding roster selection based on player performance.
2. USA D men, without the last name of Jones. This team can play D, can they play an international level transition game? I'm fairly certain Trouba can, what about the rest?
3. Seth Jones. Buddy I hated the fact that you rolled into Portland thinking you could and should do everything on this game. You lost a couple of games for us early by this same said practice. You need to shut your mouth on that whole "I think we're the best team thing" and focus on playing your role on this team. I watched as you learned the hard way that the Winterhawks taught you that the WHL was a big step up from the U-18 team in the USHL that you played for. I love your play now that you've bought into our system and I agree that you're a top 2 pick this year given that I can see you play a role and not try to be everything.....can you do the same in this tourney?
If you see this kid crossing into the offensive zone earlier than 4th man in when not on odd man rushes, the US is in HUGE trouble.
4. Alex Galchenyuk. All that hype......can he score, or maybe more correctly....can he create consistently for players not near his caliber at this level?
5. John Gibson. Kitchener Rangers goalie.....he looks good and smells good with Kitchener....there are many in the US that are literally screaming for a former USHL tender gone college as starter in net named Jon Gillies. This ties back to that whole #1 mess and politics. I personally think Gibson was the right call, but time will tell.
Single Elim games
US over Czech
Canada over Sweden
Russia over US
Canada over Finland
Canada over Russia
US over Finland