The general consensus following Canada’s Boxing Day matchup against the United States was that they needed to shoot the puck more. Team Canada had 27 shots on net against newly acquired Niagara IceDogs goalie Alex Nedeljkovic but, it simply wasn’t enough to beat the young but very talented American team. It was evident that the Canadians needed to make some changes in order to get the production they needed out of their top players. On their day off prior to game 2, Head Coach Dave Lowry had his players working on the effectiveness of their passing, in situations like moving the puck out of their own zone and into the offensive zone, and within the offensive zone, holding the blue line. The usefulness of these drills became evident in their game against the Danes as Canada sustained immense pressure on Denmark for long periods of time. Canada doubled their shot total against Danish goalie Mathias Seldrup with 58 shots on net. When asked about how he feels his team can be successful in this tournament, Mitch Marner was very blunt in saying that this team needs to shoot the puck more. They saw that it can lead to success tonight, and it needs to continue in the preliminary round, and into the medal round.
“We just want to get more pucks to the net, I think that was the problem in our first game. We didn’t get enough pucks to the net and we’re really trying to focus on getting more bodies in front of the goalies. Every goalie in this tournament is great when they see the puck, so we’ve just got to get bodies in front of it and make sure we get pucks through.” – Mitch Marner
The main story following game 2 was that Coach Lowry had split up the dynamic duo of Marner and Strome after the two did not produce offensively against the Americans. Strome skated on a line with Perlini and Virtanen while Marner was with Point and Quenneville. Marner admitted to not having been completely sure before the game whether he and Strome would be playing on the same line but, it evidently didn’t factor into their production. Both Strome and Marner played much better on separate lines through even strength play, while playing together on the power play. They both finished the game with one goal, and one assist. I would expect that these lines would remain the same for the next game against Switzerland. Dave Lowry said that he felt that he needed to split up Marner and Strome for this game due to their lack of productivity, and see whether they could generate more separately. “In a perfect world, you’d like to keep them together but it wasn’t working, we weren’t generating enough as a group.” – Dave Lowry. Obviously his experiment worked.
“It was a little different … A little change up but if coach thought that was the way to be successful then that was the way” – Mitch Marner
Marner knew what to expect when playing with Point and Quenneville. He was very familiar with the way in which he needed play in order to make them successful. He knew that he would need to be ready to feed Point the puck at almost any given moment. Point is the special kind of hockey player that can make something out of almost nothing. Marner knew he would need to be ready for that to be a help Point succeed offensively. An advantage to having Quenneville on a line with players like Point and Marner is that he’s able to create space that would allow his linemates the opportunity to produce.
One would have to think that the momentum of having been so successful in one game would carry over to the next, especially since it is the following day however, Marner isn’t taking anything for granted. He knows the Swiss team is very different from the Danish team he just faced. He knows they are going to have to work just as hard, if not harder to beat Switzerland.
The next question that faces Team Canada is who will be in goal. All signs point to Mackenzie Blackwood taking over in net against Switzerland but, Dave Lowry wouldn’t confirm nor deny who his starting goalie would be.
Who do you think will be in net against Switzerland?
Maple Leafs Prospects – World Junior Statistics