The 2021 World Juniors are off and running, and as anticipated, Canada has come out of the gates with a 2-0-0 record to start the tournament. After a complete blowout win against an undermanned Germany squad in their opener, Canada found themselves up against a much stingier and tighter checking Slovakia team in game 2 but were able to prevail with the win.
Canada has outscored their opponents 19-3 and outshot their opponents 67-33 in the first two games, so one would be left to think there should be no concerns for this Canadian squad heading into their 3rd game tonight against Switzerland, BUT is that honestly the case?
In my opinion, some concerns could really come to light, especially as the opponents get stronger with their special teams play.
Getting a true read on many aspects from the Germany game would be tough. Sure they put up 2 powerplay goals, 2 shorthanded goals, and 16 total goals. Still, as everyone who watched the game would understand, many of those pucks that were even just thrown at the net should have never gone in and wouldn’t have on most goalies, so the final score didn’t give a true picture of how the game was actually played.
Canada’s first powerplay goal by Peyton Krebs was questionable, as it seemed the puck had crossed the line well after the clock hit 0:00, and their other powerplay goal was the meaningless 12th goal of the game.
In the game against Slovakia, the Canadian powerplay was held off the scoresheet on their 2 attempts, including their first powerplay of the game, where they failed to even register a shot on goal.
Canada’s penalty kill has been the most concerning but has been quietly overshadowed by their wins.
In the game against Germany, Canada gave up 2 powerplay goals on only 4 kills. In the game against Slovakia, Canada gave up 1 goal on only 3 kills, for a tournament total of 3 powerplay goals against on only 7 kills.
In a short tournament like this and a one and done scenario for all elimination games, special teams can play a major role in each game and be a big determining factor in how far a team will go.
Special teams will definitely be something to keep our eyes on for Canada as the tournament progresses. With the powerplay only clicking at 40% (ranked 5th best in the tournament) and the penalty kill running at a dismal 57% (ranked 8th best in the tournament), Canada will need to turn things around quickly on special teams if they have any plans on matching up tough against some of the other tournament powerhouses like Sweden, the USA, and Russia.
Team Canada will continue their quest for gold tonight as they take on Team Switzerland at 6:00 pm est.