Canada plays some country called Russia in tonight’s World Juniors gold medal game. Should be real…
- Both Canada and Russia have rolled through their quarter- and semi-final matches, although Russia did it against more traditional hockey powers. Canada bested Denmark 8-0 and Slovakia 5-1 en route to the final, while Russia defeated the U.S. 3-2 and Sweden 4-1, an impressive showing from a team facing that double-headed gauntlet.
- Here’s TSN’s Bob McKenzie on tonight’s game:
“Canada’s done what they’re supposed to do. There’s no question this is going to be their toughest test, but it’s for the gold medal so it should be their toughest test.
“This Russian team is very, very good. They are big and they are strong and they’ve got some swagger. They’re not the least bit awed or intimidated by playing in front of a hostile Canadian crowd. In fact, I think they really kind of thrive on that.”
- *Don’t forget, two Vancouver Canucks prospects are in action Monday – 2014 draft picks Jake Virtanen (Canada) and Gustav Forsling (Sweden) will go for their own medals, Forsling against Slovakia in the 1 p.m. bronze medal game.
The Vancouver Canucks are coming off a pretty solid 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday – no doubt bumpering the score sheet with two empty net goals from Henrik Sedin – and will welcome the New York Islanders to Rogers Arena on Tuesday night…
- The last time the Islanders and Canucks met, a John Tavares-less Long Island team scored seven third-period goals to win 7-4 after trailing 3-0 through 40 minutes.
- I mentioned the Canucks are coming off a 4-1 win over Detroit. The Islanders lost their last game 5-2 to the normally terrible Edmonton Oilers, which snapped a three-game win streak over Washington, Winnipeg, and Calgary.
- Tavares leads the Islanders with 36 points through 39 games. Linemate Kyle Okposo is just behind with 34 points.
- Daniel Sedin leads the Canucks with 35 points, one more than his brother Henrik, through 37 games. Their winger Radim Vrbata leads the team in goals with 16.
- Speaking last week, Canucks general manager Jim Benning commented on power forward Zack Kassian (via The Province), who was a healthy scratch against the L.A. Kings on New Year’s Day:
“He’s got the physicality and size to be a power forward for us. He’s going to have to embrace that style of game.
“That’s how he’s going to help us win.”
“With any young player you have to patient, but having said that, if somebody calls us, and we think we can make our team better we’re going to look at that. We’re going to talk about it… That’s the case with any player.”
The Edmonton Oilers dropped rookie Leon Draisaitl back to the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders over the weekend, but it appears the No. 3 overall draft pick could be on the move again…
- Reports almost guarantee Draisaitl will be on his way to the WHL’s top team, the Kelowna Rockets (via the Edmonton Journal).
- In the Okanagan, the big, shifty German would join forward Rourke Chartier and Nick Merkley, not to mention still-playing Canadian World Junior blueliners Madison Bowey and Josh Morrissey. (Morrissey was also acquired by Kelowna in a trade with Prince Albert, this season.)
- (NHL.com also reports that Prince Albert is expected to trade Draisaitl to the Kelowna Rockets sometime after tonight’s World Junior final.)
- The Rockets sit first in the WHL standings with a 31-6-3 record, three points ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings. Both teams have been the class of the league so far this season, playing across each other in the East (Brandon) and West (Kelowna, duh).