After watching that domination by the WHL, Canada is going to be oe hell of a team to be reckoned with at the WJC. 17 players from Team WHL attended the Canadian Evaluation Camp and when you add the likes of Crosby, Perry, Bolland and many others all you can say is WOW!!! I would be pretty confident in just sending the WHL team to the WJC!!!
Up front, it was like there were three #1 lines and one line playing below that level, but Sutter just rolled them over consistently so that everybody played a lot, in every situation. It would be much easier to list the players who didn't stand out, rather than the ones who did. But here's a brief summary for all of them, line by line...
The line of Colliton, Getzlaf, and Ladd was dominant. Like the Richards line in Game 1 for the OHL, you couldn't exactly say they were smooth, but they held the puck in the other team's zone, owned the ice surface, and generated opportunities on practically every shift, culminating in 3 goals. Colliton showed that he could play more offense than I gave him credit for, but he owns the 4th line job on Team Canada anyway. Getzlaf was his usual dominant self, and Ladd was johnny-on-the-spot for a couple of nice goals.
Dawes-Stone-Fehr... here it was really Fehr serving notice that he is not to a player to overlook for Team Canada. His release would be a lethal complement to a player like Crosby who figures to have an opening on his wing for Team Canada. Dawes looked like he was going to score several times, and is just such an amazing competitor that you have to overlook his size entirely. Stone was solid too, much more talented than I ever gave him credit for in the past. In a normal year, Stone too could gain consideration for Team Canada, but it's getting hard to see where he'd fit in this year.
The line which started the game for Team Canada was Fraser, MacArthur, and Meyer. I thought Fraser was one of the very few invisible WHLers tonight. MacArthur showed some good moves and worked nicely with Meyer. But it was of course Meyer who set the tone for this line, and for the entire WHL team, really. He scored, he was perhaps the most physically involved forward on the night (wasn't he the one who nailed Phaneuf also?), and he just looked flat-out great.
By contrast, the line of Versteeg, Chipchura, and Klassen was visibly a notch below the rest, IMO. They didn't put on much offensive pressure, and didn't really come together as a unit quite as quickly and naturally as the other lines. Versteeg made some good sorties, and Chipchura played a quietly sound all-around game. If you were going to take this Team WHL by itself to the WJC, I think the two obvious players to replace in the lineup would be Fraser and Klassen. I like Klassen in league play, and was hoping he'd get drafted last year, but he didn't really fit in last night. Otherwise, Versteeg and Chipchura could learn to work together on an energy line, and I would also add that the Russian coaching staff seemed to recognize this was the weakest line and tried to get Yunkov and Voloshenko out against them more often than not.
On D, well what can you say really. This defense was men against boys, and ultimately was responsible for the reason why the WHL dominated so handily. I keep looking for ways I can get Syvret onto Team Canada, but Mike Green really makes that difficult. He was excellent last night, in every facet. And with Phaneuf-Weber, and Seabrooke-Coburn already owning spots, wow. It was only natural that Schultz and Carson would seem like the weakest links out there, but that's only in a relative sense to the rest of this awesome blueline.
Glass looked excellent in goal on the few chances he faced, and Beauchemin really wasn't tested at all. I'm trying to figure out how the goaltending is going to work in Game 2; it sounds like Nastiuk replaces Glass, but Beauchemin stays on for another 1 period?! Where does that leave Dubnyk for a showing? Anyway, I think I could play goal on this year's Team Canada and make an adequate showing, because with that defense out there, any of these guys are sufficient to hold the fort.
Last edited by Blind Gardien: 12-02-2004 at 08:21 AM.