Usually when there is a Team Canada participating in the world juniors, and the chances are is that the Red and White goes deep into the tournament, but this year was a lot different. Canada just flat out stunk.
From the drop of the puck verse the states, or till the final buzzer against the Fins, Canada just did not come to play. Things just never seemed to click, and they looked lethargic out there. When MacKenzie Blackwood had to serve the final 2 games of his suspension during the tournament was probably the start of it all.
MacKenzie Blackwood was having an amazing season before heading into camp. He had a save percentage of 0.930 with a goals against average of 2.43. But after the slash that earned him an 8 game suspension, he couldn’t carry that over into the tournament. With Blackwood suspended, Mason McDonald had a chance to steal that number one job, but didn’t seize the opportunity by nearly blowing a five goal lead in the pre-tournament game against Sweden, as well as letting in some weak goals on day one verse the US of A.
The back end was pretty average. Great performances from Joe Hicketts and Thomas Chabot help soften the blow, but nothing was special. I think that it was a huge mistake cutting Jakob Chychrun, as he is very talented player at such a young age. You just don’t pass up a big, skilled, smooth skating defensemen like that.
Canada was supposed to be a dominant offensive force, after Hockey Canada would once again go to the direction of speed and skill. They had potential to do something special, but sadly it didn’t pan out. Though players such as Matt Barzal, Dylan Strome, Travis Konecny and Mitch Marner had solid tournaments there were a lot of disappointments. Jake Virtanen was supposed to be a guy Canada could rely on, after a stint with the Canucks, but stupid penalties costed Canada a date with Sweden in the semi-final, Brayden Point was average, and Lawson Crouse also.
Though Mitch and Dylan look like they’ll be headed to the NHL come september, including those two, nine players can return to next years tournament. Hopefully, their bad performance is a lesson, and their experience from what had happened will help them succeed in 2017.