What a tournament it turned out to be. Can’t say I was sold after the first few days but the pace of play picked up and so did the competitiveness.
Let’s start with The Good:
CJ – Key performances. What a tournament for guys like Tyler Steenbergen, Cale Makar, Samuel Bucek and Maxim Sushko. Some of these guys were written off by coaches and “experts” before the tournament and all came to play in the biggest stage. Steenbergen averaged under 8 minutes of ice time and had the only goal that Canadians will remember from this tournament. Makar was Canada’s best D and played 7th defenceman minutes. Bucek had the biggest Slovakian goal since 2015. Sushko single handedly kept Belarus in games and even gave them a chance to almost knock off Denmark in relegation if it wasn’t for brutal goaltending.
AE – The skill of the tournament was amongst the highest we’ve ever seen. 2018 draft eligible players such as Rasmus Dahlin, Brady Tkachuk and Filip Zadina made fans of basement dwelling NHL teams happy.
CJ – In general, the tournament was not that exciting to watch, the games lacked intensity and excitement. Players had no atmosphere to play in front of & the scheduling favoured the host Americans who brought in less fans then Canadian games.
AE – Lack of drama. Other than the gold medal game, this years world juniors lacked the drama we’ve always seen. The biggest upset was Czech Republic beating Finland in the quarterfinals. Other than that Canada had too easy of a route to the gold medal game.
CJ – Canada’s path to gold. Has there been an easier route to a gold medal game before? 8-2 QF and 7-2 SF really were thrillers to watch…….
AE – Thank goodness for the outdoor game (which made up for the attendance in one) because this tournament had the worst atmosphere in recent memory and the host country USA couldn’t even break 9,000. Canada being in the gold medal game helped the attendance but other than that it was embarrassing.