Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Double Dose Of Red And White

Team Canada got off to a great start in both tournaments as the U-20 team scored a solid 6-3 victory over Russia on Sunday, while the Spengler Cup Canadians thumped Dominik Hasek and Spartak Moscow, another Russian squad, by a 6-1 score. Rarely do you see Dominik Hasek give up six goals in a game, but the 73 year-old looked fallible against Canada as six different Canadian players scored on Hasek. Thumbs-up, Dominik. Well done.

We move on to today where Teams Canada are back in action. We'll start with the junior men as they have a battle against Hasek's countrymen in the Czech Republic at 4:00 ET today in Buffalo.

The Czech Republic opened their 2011 World Junior Championship with a 2-0 victory over Norway. It was thought that the Czechs might have scored a few more goals against the plucky Norwegians, but the 2-0 shutout victory was more than enough to get the Czechs off on the right foot.

Goals by Antonin Honejsek and Tomas Rachunek, both undrafted players, put the Czechs up by the two goals as goaltender Marek Mazanec stopped all 21 shots he faced. The Czechs didn't look particularly interested in this game, to be honest, as they seemed to go through the motions at times, but their 38 shots say that they can generate offence when needed.

Canada will need to play in the same fashion that they did against the Russians in order to put the Czechs away early. There is absolutely no reason to go easy on the Czech Republic, and Canada needs to keep its foot on the gas as they prepare for a showdown against Sweden for top spot in the pool on New Year's Eve. Hit hard, aggressively forecheck, close off the blueline, and stay disciplined - the mantra for this Canadian team will be the difference as Canada should skate to another win.

As for the men playing in Switzerland, there is a considerable challenge standing before them as Team Canada plays the hosts in HC Davos today. Davos beat Spartak Moscow on Sunday by a 4-2 score, and they boast former NHL players Petr Sykora, Reto Van Arx, Josef Marha, Peter Sejna and Jaroslav Bednar in their lineup. History says that Canada should have the advantage against their hosts after having gone 22-8 all-time against Davos, but this Davos team is second-place in the Swiss Elite League and they always tough against Canada.

I took a quick look through the HC Davos roster, and I noticed a few irregularities on their roster. Now, I'm not saying they're cheating in any way as they clearly are doing well in the Swiss Elite League, but it seems that their rookies might be a little young, doesn't it? Of course, I jest as Kutlak was born in 1980, Von Arx was born in 1976, and Wieser was born in 1989 (two years after brother and teammate Marc), but the errors found on the Hockey Canada roster page are pretty funny when you consider how dramatically the birth years could affect a player if listed as "official".

The game today between Davos and Canada will determine the winner of the Cattini Pool with a 2-0 record, and give that team an automatic berth in the semi-finals on Thursday. A day off during a tournament is always a luxury, and there will probably be talk of it before the game in each dressing room. That should make for a spirited battle between these two teams! The game can be seen live on TSN2 at 5:00 ET!

Both Canadian teams need to bring that gritty, hard-nosed effort seen in their opening games to their respective games tonight. If they continue down that path, the road to victory should open for them once again. I'll be watching the World Junior Championship this evening, but I'll be switching over to the Spengler Cup game during breaks and intermissions. GO CANADA GO!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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