Subban, Hamilton Help Canada Earn Bye at WJC

Bruins Prospect Dougie Hamilton

(Photo: HHOF-IIHF Images – Andre Ringuette)

Just hours after their elder countrymen captured the Spengler Cup, the younger Team Canada was back on the ice in Russia at the World Junior Championship this morning taking on the tournament hosts. With a quarterfinal bye on the line, the Canadians remained undefeated in the preliminary round as they knocked off Team Russia by a score of 4-1.

 

Once again it was Bruins first round pick from last year’s draft Malcolm Subban between the pipes for Canada, just a day after he shut down Team USA. He didn’t have to be nearly as sharp as he was against the US however, as his teammates kept much of the play in the Russian end with strong defense and heavy offensive zone time. He did finish with 21 saves on 22 shots, the lone Russian goal coming off a Nikita Kucherov wrister from the slot that beat him top shelf. He did have a highlight reel save in the second period to keep Canada ahead by two, going cross crease to stuff another Kucherov opportunity. Here’s the video:

 

 

Subban also had a penalty shot save to keep the score 4-1, however the game was well in hand at that point with just 19 seconds left.

 

Perhaps just as good to see for Bruins fans was Dougie Hamilton breaking his scoring drought with Canada’s first goal. Hamilton looked uncomfortable and had trouble finding the net from the point against the US, despite being on the ice for two two-man advantages. It was a different story this morning though, as shortly after Russian Valeri Nichushkin earned himself a five minute major and game misconduct for his hit from behind on Canadian Tyler Wotherspoon, Hamilton blasted a one timer off a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins feed just under the crossbar to beat Russian goalie Andrei Makarov. Here’s the video of the goal:

 

 

It was one of six shots on net for Hamilton, who finished a +1, and looked far more comfortable in his own end and moving the puck.

 

Other Bruins prospects featured in the game were Canadian winger Anthony Camara and Russian centerman Alex Khokhlachev, both who were relatively quiet. Khokhlachev  again played along side 2012 Edmonton first rounder Nail Yakupov, but was held scoreless despite managing three shots on yet. Camara was relegated to fourth line duty and managed a shot on goal, but was held off the scoresheet as well.

 

For Canada, Nugent-Hopkins added to his tournament leading point total with three assists, bringing the count to eleven, four ahead of the US’ Alex Galchenyuk. Winnipeg Jets prospect Mark Scheifele added a nifty backhand goal for Canada as well. You can catch full game highlights courtesy of TSN by clicking HERE.

 

Canada will be off until Thursday, awaiting an opponent from the quarterfinal games. Team USA earned one of those quarterfinal berths with a convincing 9-3 victory over Slovakia, and they will take on the Czechs on Wednesday with hopes of moving on. The Russians will take on the Swiss in the other match-up.

Bergeron Leads Canada to Spengler Cup

Team Canada Wins the 2012 Spengler Cup

In what’s becoming a common theme in games involving a cup, Patrice Bergeron had an outstanding performance for Canada in the Spengler Cup Final, leading them to a 7-2 victory over hosts HC Davos this morning.

 

Canada, who had already downed Davos 5-0 earlier in the tournament, was looking for a repeat performance in the championship game and it was Bergeron who provided the spark. Just 46 seconds into the game Bergeron knocked home the rebound of a Sam Gagner shot to put Canada up 1-0. Slightly over two minutes later, with Team Canada on the power play, a Bergeron faceoff win led to a Derrick Walser goal, and then after some great hustle to get to a loose puck behind the Davos net, Bergeron found Ryan Smyth for a shorthanded goal midway through the period.

 

After Davos scored a late first period goal to cut the lead to 3-1, Bergeron again found Smyth streaking to the net just a minute and a half into the second to put Canada back up by three goals. After some chippy play (5 penalties over 8 minutes) in the first half of the period, a John Tavares  powerplay strike at the ten minute mark put Canada ahead for good, and forced a goaltender change for Davos. Canada would finish the period up 5-1.

 

Bergeron and Seguin at the Spengler Cup

The change didn’t accomplish much for Davos in the third period, as Ottawa Senator Jason Spezza scored just 24 seconds in. The teams would trade goals the rest of the way (Tavares’ second for Canada, Rafael Diaz for Davos), with Canada taking the 7-2 win. Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk backstopped Canada in net, making 28 saves in the victory. You can check out all the highlights courtesy of TSN by clicking HERE.

 

Bergeron finished the game with a goal and three assists, leading Canada with four points and taking Player of the Game honors. He finished with a +3 rating, racked up 4 PIM, and won 13 of 18 faceoffs. Bruins teammate Tyler Seguin was quiet in this game, with no points and only two shots on net.

 

The Bruin linemates will now return to Boston after their respective European stints to wait out the  remainder of the NHL lockout. Both players had impressive performances during their time overseas, with Bergeron finishing with 29 points in 21 games for HC Lugano and Seguin racking up 40 points in 29 games for EHC Biel, including 25 goals. Here’s hoping they can carry the momentum back on the Garden ice sooner rather than later.

 

Canada Downs USA 2-1 at WJC, Subban Shines

Bruins Prospect Malcolm Subban

Photo by Mark Blinch (Reuters)

In what was one of the more anticipated games of the 2013 World Junior Championship so far, the USA and Canada took to the ice early this morning in a preliminary round game, with Canada eventually holding on for the 2-1 victory. Once again, Bruins prospects had their finger prints on the win for Canada, while it was a tough loss for the American squad, who now must beat Slovakia tomorrow in order to claim the last available spot for the playoff round.

It was Team USA that came out with the early chances, but it was Canada who struck first on the scoreboard, with Edmonton Oilers young star Ryan Nugent-Hopkins firing a wrist shot from the right circle past US goalie John Gibson just seven minutes into the game. Shortly after, Canada goalie and Bruins 2012 first round draft pick Malcolm Subban made a huge save at the other end of the ice, rejecting USA and Boston College star forward Johnny Gaudreau on a breakaway to keep Canada up 1-0.

With five minutes left in the first Canada struck again, with Islanders’ prospect Ryan Strome burying a nifty feed from line-mate Brett Ritchie. B’s prospect Anthony Camara also factored in on the goal with an assist, after his work in the left corner freed up the puck to Ritchie behind the net, who then found Strome open in front. The period would end with Canada up 2-0, with Subban making a few good stops on a late US powerplay.

Team USA had a prime opportunity to get back in the game early in the second after Canada defenseman Griffin Reinhart received a double minor for high sticking, but Subban was there to keep USA off the board. The young Canada star made 8 stops over the four minute span alone, and by the midpoint of the period he had already racked up 20 saves. The teams traded chances for the remainder of the period, but the score remained 2-0 Canada heading into the third.

It didn’t take long for things to get interesting in the third period, as Subban took a rare tripping penalty seven minutes in to send the US back to the man advantage. After killing off that penalty, Canada found themselves shorthanded less than a minute later after Strome lifted the puck over the glass for a delay of game call. While it was Canada that first had a great 2-on-1 shorthanded opportunity, a big save by Gibson sent the USA heading the other way on a 3-on-2 rush. The puck eventually found the stick of US defenseman Jacob Trouba, who beat Subban on on a fluky five hole goal after whiffing on his first attempt, to draw his team to within a goal at 2-1.

Bruins Prospect Malcolm Subban

Photo by Mark Blinch (Reuters)

The ensuing minute had the US buzzing around the Canada goal, with Subban being forced to make a huge pad save on US forward Ryan Hartman to keep Canada ahead. While it looked like the US had finally wrestled the momentum from the Canadians, the change was short lived, as seconds later USA defenseman Jake McCabe took an ill advised hit to the head penalty which came with an automatic ten minute misconduct. It would get worse for the US, who went down another man after forward Tyler Biggs interfered with Subban while on the forecheck.

Team USA managed to kill those two penalties, but then immediately gave Canada their second two man advantage of the night after Hartman and Trouba drew simultaneous penalties with just three and a half minutes to play. Highly touted Bruins prospect Dougie Hamilton saw significant time at the point on both of Canada’s advantages, but had trouble finding the net despite numerous opportunities to unleash his slap shot. Some think Hamilton could be ready for the Bruins roster this year if play resumes, but he’s been relatively quiet during the tournament.

Bruins Prospect Malcolm Subban

Photo by Mark Blinch (Reuters)

Despite Canada’s chance to seal the victory, the US once again escaped unscathed, and had a great opportunity of their own to tie the game after Nugent-Hopkins took a boarding penalty with just 1:37 left in the game. After pulling Gibson with just over a minute to play to give the US a 6-on-4 advantage, Subban once again stifled the Americans, making numerous stops from close range around the net. A final clear by the defense closed out the win for Canada, who earned their third straight victory of the tournament, sitting comfortably in first place in Pool B heading into their matchup with the Russians tomorrow morning.

This was the performance that many had been waiting for from Subban, who faced some criticism for his somewhat shaky play in the first two games, despite earning two victories. He took Player the Game honors for Canada (Gibson appropriately earned the honor for the US), and finished with 36 saves on the night and a tournament save percentage of 92%.  He’s likely solidified his spot as Canada’s go-to goalie heading into the playoffs as well.

As mentioned above, tomorrow morning’s games will decide the final slotting for the WJC playoff round. USA and Slovakia play first at 5 am, being followed by Canada and Russia at 9 am. Both games will be carried by the NHL Network and NHL.com, so check out some future Bruin stars if you’re an early riser!

Game Highlights:

New Offer on the Table

nhl lockout crown royal

While I refuse to call anything the NHL and NHLPA does “progress” at this point, it’s worth noting that as of this morning the NHL has apparently submitted a new proposal with a few further concessions in an effort to end the NHL lockout. Maybe this is that “new idea” people were looking for as recently as last night.

From Bill Daly:

“In light of media reports this morning, I can confirm that we delivered to the Union a new, comprehensive proposal for a successor CBA late yesterday afternoon. We are not prepared to discuss the details of our proposal at this time. We are hopeful that once the Union’s staff and negotiating committee have had an opportunity to thoroughly review and consider our new proposal, they will share it with the players. We want to be back on the ice as soon as possible.”

If the devil is in the details, here’s what’s being reported:

  • Make Whole – offer the same at $300 million, likely meaning the proposed term of the CBA is still 10 years and there is still an opt-out possibility at 8 years. No Earth-shattering news here.
  • Salary Variance – Up to 10%, a 5% increase from the last proposal. This prevents circumventing the salary cap with front loaded contracts that span a number of years. This is a pretty good increase and should be seen as a good step forward.
  • Contract Term Limits – Up to six years, seven if you’re dealing with your own drafted players. Up from five years recently.
  • “Amnesty Buyouts” – apparently on the table, would allow teams a one-time period prior to the 2013-14 season to buyout players with no impact to the salary cap. The money would however count against the players’ hockey related revenue share.

There’s no hiding the fact that if a deal doesn’t get done soon there isn’t going to be enough time to have a legitimate season (though some, including myself, would argue there’s no time for that already). The proposal does give a little into the NHLPA’s demands, so there is some hope that this could spark a deal. The Boston Globe is even reporting that some execs believe this offer will be a “tipping point.” Whether that’s the case obviously remains to be seen.

This move shows the NHL is likely feeling the pressure over the possibility of losing yet another season, and if Donald Fehr and company feel they can go further, there’s a good chance he may take the low road again. The other question mark is whether or not the players feel this way as well. The next few hours and days could really paint a clearer picture on what the next month or so will hold.

But while we wait, the clock is still ticking…

WJC 2013 – Day 3 Updates

Anthony Camara

Photo by Nathan Denette (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Lots of Bruins related news out of the World Junior Championships in Russia this morning.

First, Team Canada was back in action earlier today, facing off against Slovakia. Despite falling behind twice early (2-0, 3-1), the Canadians rallied with five unanswered goals for a 6-3 victory.

Malcolm Subban was again in net for Team Canada, earning his second straight victory with another 25 save performance. Dougie Hamilton was quiet on the blue line, though he did draw a high sticking call that led to a power play goal that tied the game at three.

The biggest news however came regarding forward Anthony Camara. Midway through the second period, Camara laid a huge hit on Slovak forward Patrik Luza, who was waiting for a pass to come around the boards. While the check was relatively clean (elbow down, timed well, Luza’s head down), Camara did come from a fairly long distance to make the hit and the principal point of contact was Luza’s head. Camara received a 5 minute charging penalty (one of two Canadian majors during the game) and game misconduct, and the IIHF has historically been very strict on head hits so there likely will be further discipline coming.

Here’s the hit:

Canada’s next game is Sunday morning against Team USA, so Camara could be in jeopardy of having to sit that one out. This is a huge game for both sides as a great rivalry has built over the past few years between the teams.

For the US, Sunday’s game takes on added meaning after this morning, as they fell to the host Russians by a score of 2-1. Before the game, American defenseman and Bruins prospect Matt Grzelcyk became the final cut for Team USA, despite earlier reports that he would see action. He will rejoin his Boston University teammates over the weekend. Another loss could leave the USA with an uphill climb to reach the playoff round, while a win would draw them even with the Canadians in the standings.

For the hosts, B’s prospect Alex Khokhlachev was quiet in his second game with no points and no shots on net, losing 12 of 21 faceoffs. Russia will take on Germany tomorrow, before going head to head with Canadians on Monday to close out the Preliminary Round.