Team Canada needs to find an identity – and fast

Ryan Kennedy
Canada fell to Sweden 5-2 (Photo by Roni Rekomaa/AFP/Getty Images)

HELSINKI, FINLAND – Canada has officially finished the preliminary round of the world juniors with a 2-2 record and third place in its pool. The Canucks won just one game in regulation (against Denmark) and were practically blasted out of the Ice Hall by Sweden in their final medal round tune-up.

I say “practically,” because there were flashes of excellence from the Red and White. But those flares need to transform into a firestorm if this team hopes to continue its tournament past the quarterfinal.

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World juniors notebook: Puljujarvi, Laine help Finland over Czechs, Russia gets by Slovakia

Jared Clinton
Finland's Jesse Puljujärvi (Markku Ulander/AFP/Getty Images)

Standings | Schedule | Stats

A look at the sixth day of the 2016 World Junior Championship.

Russia 2, Slovakia 1

A second period net front scramble ended with the puck on the stick of Russia’s Yegor Rykov, and he rifled home Russia’s second goal. Russia finishes group play with 11 of a possible 12 points and will play Denmark in the quarterfinal.

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Penalties hurt Canada, Swedish power play strikes three times in 5-2 victory

Jared Clinton
Alexander Nylander celebrates his goal Thursday (Roni Rekomaa/AFP/Getty Images)

While Thursday’s game against Sweden meant nothing for Canada as far as the standings went, it was a chance for the Canadian squad to get on track and start to piece things together heading into the quarterfinal. Instead, penalties and special teams caught up and Canada dropped their second round robin game of the competition.

It didn’t take long for special teams to play a role in Thursday’s game as Canada’s Jake Virtanen was whistled for roughing little more than four minutes into the game. It would take Sweden 17 seconds to strike on the power play as Alexander Nylander found the back of the net. Two minutes after going down 1-0, the Canadians were again shorthanded — this time down both Rourke Chartier and Anthony Beauvillier — when Gustav Forsling made it 2-0 Sweden.

Before the period was out, Canada got on the board thanks to a Mitchell Stephens goal that came off of a rebound kicked out by Swedish netminder Linus Soderstrom. Read more

Zach Werenski has been Captain America at the world juniors

Ryan Kennedy
Zach Werenski  (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

HELSINKI, FINLAND – While the Americans have put up some of the best offensive numbers of the world juniors so far, let’s not forget about the defense that has surrendered just five goals in four round robin games. Leading the charge on the blueline is Columbus Blue Jackets first-rounder Zach Werenski, a standout sophomore with the University of Michigan Wolverines and the captain of Team USA. He may not be Steve Rogers or Sam Wilson, but Werenski wears the title of Captain America with pride.

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USA pulls away in third period, downs Denmark 4-1 to clinch second in Group A

Jared Clinton
USA's Matthew Tkachuk and Denmark's Nikolaj Krag (Roni Rekomaa/AFP/Getty Images)

After a dominating performance against the Swiss on Wednesday, it was believed Team USA would come into Thursday’s game against the Denmark and put up another double-digit goal total en route to an easy second place finish in Group A. That wasn’t the case.

An early turnover by American blueliner Louis Belpedio ended up right on the tape of Danish defenseman Mathias Lassen when he stepped up into the play. Lassen walked in and fired the puck over the shoulder of USA goaltender Brandon Halverson to give Denmark an early 1-0 lead, but that lead would last less than seven minutes. Before the first period was through, Auston Matthews banged home a loose puck from the side of the net to pull the score even. Read more

World juniors notebook: Czechs, Finns pick up comeback victories, Sweden clinches Group A

Jared Clinton
Finland's Sebastian Aho pokes the puck past Slovakian goaltender Christian Jaros (Heikki Saukkomaa/AFP/Getty Images)

Standings | Schedule | Stats

A look at the fifth day of the 2016 World Junior Championship.

Czech Republic 5, Belarus 3

Through two periods, Belarus had the upset in their sights. Twice in the second frame the Belarusians had a one goal lead, but the equalized the contest in the third period before Radek Vesely wired home the game-winning goal less than five minutes into the third.

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Americans dominate Swiss en route to convincing 10-1 victory

Jared Clinton
Nick Schmaltz (Markku Ulander/AFP/Getty Images)

The United States dominated from start to finish and the game couldn’t end soon enough for the Swiss as they were beaten handily by the Americans 10-1.

It wasn’t immediate domination, though. Swiss goaltender Joren van Pottelberghe, who was outstanding in Switzerland’s 3-2 shootout loss to Canada, stood tall early in the outing, but the contest got out of hand once the American opened the floodgates on a goal by Christian Dvorak shortly after the seven-minute mark of the first period. Little more than a minute later, Auston Matthews doubled USA’s lead and Brandon Carlo extended it to 3-0 at the midway mark of the first.

Before the first period was through, the Americans chased van Pottelberghe and Zach Werenski, Matthew Tkachuk and Nick Schmaltz added tallies to send USA to the dressing room ahead 6-0. Read more

World juniors notebook: Russia dominates Belarus, Canada narrowly avoids upset

Jared Clinton
Alexander Polunin celebrates with teammates Yegor Korshkov and Pavel Kraskovski (via IIHF World Juniors/Vimeo)

Standings | Schedule | Stats

A look at the fourth day of the 2016 World Junior Championship.

Russia 4, Belarus 1

This game was nowhere near as close as the score may suggest as Russia outshot Belarus 32-18 en route to a 4-1 victory. The Russian power play remained hot with two goals on three attempts, and Alexander Polunin powered Russia with two markers in the game.

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