It is USA and Canada taking on each other in the semifinals of the World Juniors Championship. Winner advances to the finals against the winner of Sweden and Russia. USA and Canada has become a great hockey rivalry ignited over the past few years not just because they share a border, but because Team USA's talent has finally been able to match up with, or be better than Team Canada's skill. This is a hyped up rivalry that each country looks forward to in every hockey game that comes along.
Puck drops in shortly after 3 AM CT.
Ray Harris and Fang Finger have come up with three reasons why each team should win. Being from Canada, Ray will have three reasons why Team Canada should be victorious and being from the United States, Fang Finger will present three reasons why Team USA should win this semifinal rematch.
Ray Harris' piece
As a Canuck I am unfortunately required to join our cocky hockey nation in cheering on anything that hits the ice with a maple leaf on it (except for the actual Maple Leafs of course). It's more or less in our constitution to watch all the pre, post, and mid game drivel that TSN throws our way. The World Juniors is our March Madness; the most important sporting event in the world nationally, but no one else really cares about it. Also we're really good at it, which helps. It's mostly because our CHL develops players specifically for this age group (Your NCAA is a great development system, but development peaks at 20 - 21, where they are ineligible).
Nonetheless, with our upcoming re-match, here are my three reasons why we'll school you again. Congrats on demolishing the Czech Republic by the way.
Reason 1: Our absurdly good first line
It's no secret that our first line wouldn't be in Russia if the NHL was in session. Ryan Nuggy-Hops (as he likes to be known) already played a full NHL season last year and actually did quite well. Huberdeau and Strome are both 2011 first round draft picks, selected 3rd and 5th overall (respectively) who would be more than likely playing with the Panthers and Islanders this season and would not have been released to the tournament. Those three players have combined for 10 goals 15 assists. They are more or less unstoppable and have tremendous chemistry. Listen guys, I'm not saying it's fair, I'm just saying they will light you up.
Reason 2: Unbelievable offensive depth
Nathan Mackinnon, projected first overall pick in the 2013 entry draft, is on the fourth line. Part of that is because he one of the bigger players and is good when we need to show some Ruskies who's boss. But still, when you can afford to place the top future prospect on the fourth line, you know you are doing something right. Not to mention Mackinnon is one of only two undrafted players. Offensively we have 11 2011 draftees and two undrafted players, making this one of the oldest teams possible. America has really impressive defense, that is one of their strengths this year. But you can't keep up with this kind of depth. It's not your fault, it's ours.
Reason 3: Malcolm Subban isn't brutal
After a pre-tournament friendly and games against Slovakia and Germany, no one was really confident in Subban. He looked like the weak link and had a sub .900 sv%. But since then he has been a rock star and I don't think anyone in the country would argue in favor of playing Binnington. Subban showed up Saturday morning for the first test against you lot, and he performed mountains above expectations. He was called upon again in the the Russia - Canada game. If he can keep this form rolling then we will be set to done gold medals in the most nationally over hyped tournament in Canada.
Fang Finger's piece
It is time for the Americans to shine in the World Juniors and advance to the finals. Hopefully, it is an exact opposite of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver when USA won the preliminary match, but Canada won the playoff game. Seth Jones, John Gibson, Alex Galchenyuk and Johnny Gaudreau all have a time to shine and show the world America is producing great hockey talent. I hope Canada got their rest because it will be needed for this match. Relax America, and watch the NHL Network broadcast and listen to Steve Mears and EJ Hradek say their Ufa, Russia, but really be in a studio in New York City.
Here are my three reasons why USA should win.
Reason 1: Gaudreau adds depth
Johnny Gaudreau has been “on a tear” scoring five goals in his past two games against the two teams who split from Czechoslovakia. Johnny “Hockey” has played out of his mind taking advantage of his opportunities to score, which the US hasn’t been doing in big time games. His line mates, J.T. Miller and Jim Vesey--Predators prospect, have been good to him feeding excellent passes. Vesey has yet to score a goal, but has been dishing assists left and right. Not to mention, Gaudreau’s scoring streak has added great forward depth to Team USA’s roster. Alex Galchenyuk has been an absolute beauty playing on the first line and is also USA’s leading scorer.
Reason 2: Gibson is a brick wall
John Gibson has been stopping almost every shot that he has seen. Playing the most minutes in the tournament, the American goalie let in only seven goals in five games. Gibson recorded his first shutout in the quarterfinals against Slovakia, tying the lead with Russian goaltender Andrei Vasilevski. According to the IIHF, Gibson has been the second best goalie, better than Malcolm Subban, the Canadian. John Gibson will have to play even better than the last time the US and Canada met.
Reason 3: Best PK
Taking the most penalties do have an upside, if those penalties are killed off. That is what Team USA is faced with, taking the most penalties at 113 minutes. Their penalty killing percentage is at 91.3%, leading the tournament in penalty killing. This is a key asset to have, especially with international referees calling a penalty on every single play. Shutting down Canada’s powerplay when the moment comes will be deflating and causes momentum to swing towards the Americans.
Ray: I wish you all a pleasant viewing experience tomorrow. Remember when you lose that it isn't your fault, we are just a better team.
Fang Finger: USA! USA! USA! USA! If Americans put their mind to anything, it will happen.