The number one asset for the Team Canada at the upcoming World Junior Tournament is expected to be its depth.
Case in point Canada’s tidy 3-1 triumph on Monday night over a formidable Finnish squad in one of three tune up games. Eight different players figured in the three goals. Jaden Schwartz, one of four returnees from last year’s silver medal winning team, showed why he is expected to be one of the clubs’ most dangerous forwards while Anaheim Ducks winger Devante Smith-Pelly set the tone with 10 hits, many of a bone jarring nature.
Some might question whether this team has the elite level high end skill to get the job done, but no one should question whether this group is going to be tough to play against.
And in coach speak, play the right way.
Even in game one, attention to detail was very good especially after the first period, when the nerves settled down at Scotiabank Saddledome. Keep in mind Canada entered this affair without two key forwards in the lineup, Memorial Cup MVP Jonathan Huberdeau along with returnee and fellow Florida first round pick Quinton Howden due to injury.
Mark Visentin was solid in goal, turning aside 22 shots. The top two Finnish lines feature plenty of weapons with Minnesota Wild first rounder Mikael Granlund leading the way. Granlund already has a World men’s title to his credit.
Canada wore the Finns down and promised to be too much. Lots to work on and two games left to play before the real deal begins Boxing Day.
Here is what I know already. I wouldn’t want to play this team in a series. And very likely a series of one game showdowns as well.