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OILERS AT THE WORLDS

Running Back to Saskatoon blog

A look around the table at the World Junior Hockey Championships

Thursday, 24.12.2009 / 1:15 PM / Oilers at the Worlds
By NHL.com Staff
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Running Back to Saskatoon blog

Canada on a roll
12.24.2009 / 10:10 AM ET

Canada won its final exhibition game last night, beating a game Czech Republic team, 3-2, at the Brandt Centre in Regina, Sask.

After Dallas prospect Tomas Vincour -- who plays for the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings -- scored the game's first goal in the second period, but Canada responded with three goals in the second half of the period.

Taylor Hall scored for the third straight game to start the attack. Jordan Eberle, the hero of last year's tournament, notched a power-play goal to put Canada ahead, and Gabriel Bourque scored shorthanded. Jan Kana scored in the third for the Czechs, but goalie Jake Allen shut things down and Canada held on for the win.

Again, it was a chippy affair as the Czechs were whistled for nine penalties and threw numerous hard hits. Defenseman Radko Gudas threw around every bit of his 5-foot-11-inch, 192-pound frame. That shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, as Gudas plays for the WHL's Everett Silvertips and was the No. 21 skater on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary ranking of WHL skaters.

While Canada has to continue to be wary of getting too caught up in physical play and taking bad penalties -- Stefan Della Rovere was sent off for goaltender interference and boarding, and captain Patrice Cormier was called for high-sticking -- their penalty killing has been outstanding, and no one should be questioning their scoring ability.

Hall has 3 goals, Eberle has 2 goals and 5 points, and Nazem Kadri has 4 assists.

But these comments from Hall have to be golden words for coach Willie Desjardins:

"Yeah, I scored in three straight games but I'm also proud of the fact that I wasn't on for a goal against," Hall said. "I think that's pretty big on Team Canada. Any time you can be a good player in both zones, (Desjardins) is going to rely on you."

-- Adam Kimelman

Looking at the U.S.
12.23.2009 / 10:20 PM ET

The U.S. team spent the day moving into its digs in Saskatoon, where they arrived this morning following Tuesday night's exhibition loss in Moose Jaw.

"Good hockey weather," said coach Dean Blais of the 10 degree weather.

Talking to Blais about the U.S. roster, one thing that immediately jumps out is the youth, including four 17-year-olds. Goaltender Jack Campbell will be one of the youngest players in the WJC -- he's the youngest on the U.S. roster -- and defenseman Cam Fowler also will play a major role.

The U.S. should be very strong and smooth on defense. Fowler is very poised and could be a top-five draft pick in June. Watching Jake Gardiner skate the puck is like watching silk getting pulled along the ice. And it won't be long before John Carlson has a full-time job with the Caps.

Back in the summer at Lake Placid, one of the best U.S. lines was Jordan Schroeder centering Kyle Palmieri and Ryan Bourque, but Blais said he didn't see enough from that group to keep them together for the tournament.

"I think we're going to have to experiment a little bit," Blais told me. "It really didn't click last night for whatever reason, didn't seem to have the kick that we needed. … Didn't have a whole lot of chemistry. We'll probably try something different."

But those three players, as well as Kristo, Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan should fill the top two lines.

Schroeder will be the key. This will be his third WJC, and he needs to lead on and off the ice. Blais wouldn't commit to him being captain, and when I asked who he thought should wear the 'C,' he gave a pretty amusing answer.

"We'll let the players vote on the captains," he said, "and then we'll decide on how they vote."

If I had to guess, the captain either will be Schroeder, Kristo or Carlson. But I could be wrong.

One other note to pass along -- Gary Thorne, the veteran ESPN broadcaster, will not be calling the games on the NHL Network due to a personal reason. Instead, JP Dellacamera will do the play-by-play alongside analyst Dave Starman and rink-side reporter Fred Pletsch.

Dellacamera is best known for doing play-by-play for six straight soccer World Cups, but he also spent five years broadcasting Atlanta Thrashers games, as well as NHL games on ESPN.

-- Adam Kimelman

Final U.S. roster
12.23.2009 / 11:40 AM ET

The U.S. just announced its final roster. The last two players cut were defenseman Max Nicastro, a Red Wings prospect, and forward Chris Brown, a 2009 Coyotes draft pick.

Story here on NHL.com.

--Adam Kimelman


Canada up, U.S. down

12.23.2009 / 9:35 AM ET

Sorry for the delay, but screaming children don't help the work process.

Anyway, Canada kept rolling through its warm-up games with a 3-0 defeat of Finland last night in Calgary. Taylor Hall went from bad knee to goal scorer, and Alex Pietrangelo and Brandon McMillan also had goals. In goal Martin Jones -- a star with the WHL's hometown Hitmen -- stopped all 17 shots he faced.

"It was a lot of fun to play at home and get a warm welcome and have a good game which was just a bonus," said Jones. "There was nerves either way. My first game for Team Canada, there's always expectations to win. I think playing at home, if anything, helped me get a little more comfortable. I've been in the rink a lot of times so it was a little easier transition for me."

Jordan Eberle also had a pair of assists for Canada.

Hall sat out the last two periods of Sunday's win against Sweden with sore knee. But he said he felt just fine last night.

"The knee was fine tonight," he said. "I was a little unsure before the game how it would feel. When I got into the game, I didn't feel it at all so it shouldn't be problem throughout the tournament."

Canada's final tune-up will come Wednesday against the Czech Republic.

Speaking of the Czechs, they defeated the U.S. last night, 3-2 in a shootout, in Moose Jaw, Sask.

After the Blue Jackets prospect Tomas Kubalick scored in the first for the Czechs, Chris Kreider tied the game in the second. Michal Hlinka put the Czechs back on top late in the second, but Chris Bourque -- like Kreider, a Rangers prospect -- answered in the third.

Hlinka scored the only goal of the shootout, beating Mike Lee on the Czech's first chance. Lee later stopped Jan Kovar. But it didn't matter, as Czech goalie Jakub Sedlacek stopped Philip McRae, Cam Fowler and Derek Stepan. 

Jack Campbell played the first half of the game in goal, stopping 17 of 18 shots.

"It was a fast-paced game, but I think we got better as it went on," said U.S. coach Dean Blais. "We've got a few days now before the tournament begins to improve our chemistry and focus in on our goal."

Forwards Jerry D'Amigo and Jason Zucker sat out last night's game. Whether they're the final two cuts, or two others get bumped from the U.S. team will be learned later today, when Blais and his staff makes the final cut to get the roster down to 22.

Check back with NHL.com for a full story after the announcement.

-- Adam Kimelman

Next year in Buffalo
12.22.2009 / 9:45 PM ET

The 2010 World Juniors haven't even started and we already know two of the teams that will be playing at the 2011 WJC in Buffalo.

Germany and Norway won promotion by winning the two Division I Under-20 tournaments. Germany won a six-team Group A that included host France, Japan, Slovenia, Ukraine and Denmark, who Germany beat in the final game.

Norway emerged from Group B in Poland that included the host country, as well as Croatia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Italy, who Norway beat in the finals to earn promotion.

Getting back to this year's event, Switzerland became the latest team to narrow down its roster. The Swiss went undefeated at the Division I level last year to earn promotion to the main tournament, and they'll have a pretty strong roster this year. Not medal strong, but strong enough where they should be in Buffalo next year.

Most of the players on the Swiss roster play in domestic leagues, but there are a few names that should be familiar to fans on this side of the Atlantic. Defenseman Luca Sbisa, a 2008 first-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers who was one of the key pieces dealt to Anaheim in the Chris Pronger trade, will be on the team. Sbisa was scoreless in eight games with the Ducks this season before being sent back to his junior team, the WHL's Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Also on the team will be Nashville prospect Roman Josi, a 2008 second-round pick now in his third season with SC Bern in the top Swiss league. In 24 games, the 6-foot-1, 198-pound blueliner has 9 goals and 20 points.

Also on the team will be right wing Nino Niederreiter, a top prospect for the 2010 Entry Draft. Niederreiter, in his first North American season with the WHL's Portland Winterhawks, leads the league's rookies with 41 points in 37 games. NHL Central Scouting had him No. 6 among WHL skaters in its preliminary rankings, and he will play in next month's CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

More later following U.S. and Canada exhibition games.

-- Adam Kimelman

Final acts
12.22.2009 / 4:05 PM ET

Welcome to the Running Back to Saskatoon blog. All the news you'll need to have for the 2010 World Junior Championship can be found here.

Why the name for the blog? Well, this year's tournament will be held in Saskatoon, so we went with the name of a song by Canadian rock band the Guess Who? Kids, if you don't know who the Guess Who? is, ask your parents. Hopefully they can Google it for you.

Anyway, onto the news of the day. And today is a pretty important day, as Canada and the U.S. will have tune-ups as they continue to get ready for the big show, which starts Dec. 26.

Canada will face Finland in Calgary. Taylor Hall, who injured his knee in Sunday's exhibition game against Sweden when he was knocked down in front of the net, will play tonight.

"The padding fell down a little bit and I fell on my bare knee," Hall, a candidate to be the top pick of the 2010 Entry Draft, told the Calgary Sun. "It's a little bruised, a little inflamed, but nothing too serious."

Canada coach Willie Desjardins said had that happened during the WJC, Hall would have played. He also said Martin Jones, who stars for the WHL's Calgary Hitmen, would start in goal.

Also playing will be captain Patrice Cormier, who will not be suspended for his vicious elbow that broke the nose of Sweden forward Anton Rodin during Sunday's game. It was one of a number of chippy plays between the teams, which have played in the gold medal game two straight years.

"I haven't heard anything," said Cormier, a New Jersey Devils prospect. "I saw the guy coming and it was a reaction. You never want to hurt anyone out there but it's part of the game and just happened."

While Canada has set its final roster, the U.S. will make its final cuts following tonight's game against the Czech Republic in Moose Jaw, Sask.

The U.S. roster stands at 24, meaning two more players will be spending their New Year's week at home, instead of Saskatchewan.

If Jordan Schroeder makes the team -- and barring injury, it's a near-certainty -- he would become the 19th U.S. player to skate in three WJCs. He also is just six points behind Jeremy Roenick, the top scorer in U.S. WJC history.

Schroder and fellow forwards Tyler Johnson and Danny Kristo are the only holdovers from last year's team that finished fifth in Ottawa.

The U.S. team beat the University of North Dakota in its first exhibition game, 4-2, on Sunday in Grand Forks, N.D. Chris Kreider scored twice and Cam Fowler and Derek Stepan had a pair of assists each. Both Mike Lee and Jack Campbell split time in net, which is likely to happen again tonight.

The team will roll four forward lines tonight -- Schroeder centering Ryan Bourque and Kyle Palmieri; Stepan between Kreider and Kristo; A.J. Jenks centering Philip McRae and Chris Brown; and Johnson between Luke Walker and Jeremy Morin.

The defense pairings will be David Warsofsky and John Carlson; Fowler and Brian Lashoff; Jake Gardiner and John Ramage; and Matt Donovan and Max Nicastro.

We'll be back later with a review of how each team did, and make sure to check back tomorrow for a look at the final U.S. roster.

-- Adam Kimelman

Author: NHL.com Staff

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