Canada will meet Team USA for the gold medal at the World Juniors for the fifth time on Tuesday, with the Americans holding a 3-1 advantage in championship matchups.
Watch the gold medal game LIVE tonight at 8:30PM ET / 5:30PM PT on TSN1, TSN3, TSN4, TSN5 and TSN Direct.
After Canada captured their first battle for gold against the USA in 1997, the neighbours to the south reigned supreme in 2004, 2010 and 2017.
If the Canadians can end the three-game gold medal losing streak against the Americans, they will cap off a dominant title defence at the 2021 tournament.
Not only is that the number of games Canada has dropped at the World Juniors this year as they sit at 6-0, it’s also the number of seconds they have trailed – the only team that has yet to be behind at the tournament.
They have led 339:18 out of a possible 360 minutes, scoring in the opening five minutes of five out of the six games they have played.
With victories over Germany, Switzerland, Slovakia and Finland in the preliminary round, and over Czech Republic and Russia in the knockout stage, Canada has a shot at a perfect tournament for the first time since 2015.
The last undefeated champion at the World Juniors was the USA in 2017.
Dylan Cozens was named one of Canada’s three best players at the 2021 World Juniors after the semifinal. His eight goals and eight assists leading up the gold medal game already has him in elite company, with the chance to climb even higher.
Cozens’ 16 points ties him with Cody Hodgson in 2009 for fifth all-time in a single tournament. The pair trail Wayne Gretzky (1978) and Eric Lindros (1991), who are tied for third with 17, and Canada’s all-time leaders Brayden Schenn (2011) and Dale McCourt (1977), who both tallied 18 at one World Juniors.
The Buffalo Sabres prospect would need to have a great night to pass Lindros’ 31 career points, the all-time best in a Canadian jersey, but with 25 points split between the 2020 and 2021 tournaments, Cozens finds himself tied for fourth with Ryan Ellis.
With a single point, he can equal Jordan Eberle and Brayden Schenn, who are tied for second on Canada’s all-time scoring list.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
The Workhorse from Whitehorse isn’t the only member of Canada’s team that can make a move on an all-time list on Tuesday.
Goaltender Devon Levi, who was also named as one of Canada’s best players of the tournament, has made all six starts and boasts impressive numbers.
Levi’s six victories have him tied with 11 other goaltenders for second most in a single tournament, including fellow Canadians Jimmy Waite (1988), Manny Legace (1993), Justin Pogge (2006) and Carey Price (2007).
The record for a single tournament belongs to Tomas Duba, who won seven games for Czech Republic in 2001.
Levi has also earned three shutouts, which equals Pogge’s single-tournament record from the 2006 World Juniors.
If he can blank the Americans on Tuesday, he’ll set a new mark for one World Juniors and tie Jaroslav Halak for the all-time mark with four.
Heading into the gold medal game, the Florida Panthers draft pick also holds a .975 save percentage, the best mark in the history of a single tournament. He leads Russian Ilya Bryzgalov, who posted a .971 save percentage in 2000, and Price, who posted a .961 mark in 2007.
– Canada beat USA in the 2020 tournament to snap a four-game American winning streak.
– Canada is the last country to repeat as champions at the World Juniors when they won five in a row from 2005-2009.
-Trevor Zegras leads USA in points with six goals and 10 assists.
The Montreal Canadiens depth is about to be tested – Habs Eyes on the Prize
The Montreal Canadiens have had a very straight forward season thus far. They have used 18 skaters and two goaltenders. The only transactions they have made have been to save cap room on off days.
Even Victor Mete, who is the only extra player on the active roster, has yet to play a game this season.
That will very likely change on Saturday when the team plays their third straight game against the Vancouver Canucks. The Canadiens depth has been the strength of their team through five games. From every line scoring, to minutes being distributed evenly, the team has proven that they have effective depth.
The other prong to that depth is having internal replacements. It was the reason the team added Corey Perry and Michael Frolik before training camp opened even though the lineup appeared set. A team with playoff aspirations — especially in the reality of the current season — needs to have players come in and perform.
With Joel Armia suffering from a concussion and Paul Byron leaving early after taking a shot off of his foot, there is a good chance someone will have to come into the lineup. Canadiens coach Claude Julien has no issue going to his taxi squad, especially for the two veteran forwards.
“Those two players have been a great example to our young players,” Julien said after Thursday’s 7-3 win against the Canucks. “They are leading the way right now. What we like about that is their experience and what they are showing to young players who want to become good professionals. They have a great attitude. That’s why [general manager Marc Bergevin] went out to get them: If things happen along the way, we have depth. They are players who can play, who can help us. We’ll see what our injury situation is and how we can react with any changes.”
The situation to bring both into the lineup isn’t as simple as changing the lineup card. Between the team’s cap situation and waiver situation, there will need to be some maneuvering. The Canadiens may have enough cap space to bring one player up without needing anyone to go on long-term injury reserve (LTIR). LTIR would require a player to miss a minimum 24 days or 10 games which is a lot of time for what could be a short-term injury just to get around the cap. LTIR would allow a team to replace the salary of the player. Regular injured reserve is only a minimum of a week but provides zero cap relief.
There is the chance, if both Armia and Byron — who Julien said would be evaluated day-to day — are out that the Canadiens may have to play with 11 forwards and seven defencemen since Mete is on the active roster.
Another possible option would be to send down Alexander Romanov for Saturday’s game, and play Mete in his spot on defence. That would allow both Perry and Frolik to be called up even if no one is placed on LTIR. It’s not ideal for the rookie defenceman, but it wouldn’t need to be a long-term solution either.
Bergevin knew he would have to pull off some cap gymnastics this season. He did his stretching during the off-season to prepare for the inevitability of injuries. Now we’ll have to see what happens now that those gymnastics, and the depth, is being tested.
Habs Headlines: The Canadiens “really do have something” early on – Habs Eyes on the Prize
Canadiens @ Canucks game recap: Montreal overpowers Vancouver in a rout – Habs Eyes on the Prize
On Wednesday night, the Montrea Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks played arguably the most exciting game of the early NHL season. Despite falling 6-5 in the shootout, Montreal overcame some self-inflicted penalty trouble, battling back multiple times to salvage a point in their sloppiest game of the season. A hat trick from Tyler Toffoli, plus goals from Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Brendan Gallagher, helped pace Montreal’s offence.
Claude Julien stressed that the team needs to be more disciplined and toughen up on the penalty kill going forward. Despite the loss, there were no changes to the lineup, and given their play at even strength, it’s hard to argue that there should have been any changes made.
For the Canucks, they were without Travis Hamonic, who was hurt on Wednesday night. Brogan Rafferty drew into the lineup in his place. Also missing was Alexander Edler, who was replaced by Olli Juolevi. Between the pipes it was Jake Allen for Montreal, while Thatcher Demko got the nod for the Canucks.
In need of a fast start, the Canadiens got just that as Kotkaniemi outworked Rafferty along the boards and flicked a puck into the slot. Both Joel Armia and Toffoli missed their initial swings at the puck, but Toffoli connected and fired it past Demko for the game’s opening goal, and Toffoli’s fourth in two games.
The lead was short-lived as a failed clear by both Shea Weber and Tomas Tatar made it to the stick of Tyler Myers. The Canucks defender fired a harmless looking shot toward the net, and Bo Horvat deflected it by Allen to almost immediately tie the game.
The Canadiens followed that up by getting called for a dubious hook, triggering flashbacks to the previous night. Only this time the Canadiens put up the goal on a Vancouver power play, thanks to a brutal turnover by Nate Schmidt. The defender’s pass flubbed off his stick right to Toffoli, who in turn hit a streaking Joel Armia, who fired it past Demko easily.
The Canadiens proceeded to tale another penalty, this time for slashing, and the Canucks made them pay this time. Artturi Lehkonen misread where he was supposed to be covering, and by the time he noticed his mistake, Horvat had the puck and was firing it home for his second of the game, once again erasing the Canadiens’ lead.
Despite some more looks on a power play, Montreal couldn’t break the deadlocked game, and as the horn blew to end the period Joel Edmundson buried Tanner Pearson to take a penalty for his troubles. The teams went into the intermission with two goals each, but Vancouver started the second period with a full two-minute power play.
Once again, it was the Canadiens’ penalty-killing units bringing the pain against Vancouver thanks to sloppy play by the Canucks. Elias Pettersson’s pass was knocked away by Armia, who picked out Toffoli breaking in alone toward the Canucks zone. Armia hit him in stride and with a beautiful hard deke Toffoli fooled Demko, and tucked home yet another goal.
The penalty parade on both sides continued as Myers took a penalty, and then Nick Suzuki was called for a slash. The game continued to be choppy, sloppy, disjointed, and messy, but the Canadiens kept their lead intact.
Then Montreal remembered they were the far better team at even strength and pounded in three straight goals in just over 90 seconds to suck all the wind out of the Canucks’ sails. First it was Jake Allen playing a perfect rebound out of the Canadiens’ zone to Jonathan Drouin who fed it to Suzuki. Suzuki’s shot went up in the air as Demko got a piece of it, but Josh Anderson. trailing the play. choked up on his stick and swung, drilling the puck into the net for a two-goal advantage.
Off the ensuing faceoff, a dump-in caught Demko in no man’s land allowing Paul Byron to sneak in and steal the loose puck. Byron fired his pass across the crease and Jake Evans fired his shot off the crossbar and made it a three goal Montreal advantage.
Then, just to add insult to injury, Joel Armia added one more goal before the end of the period, taking a Kotkaniemi feed and dangling around Demko and making it 6-2.
With the game more or less in the bag, Montreal was content to let the game ride out and get out of Rogers Arena without further incident. However, Brandon Sutter had to introduce Alexander Romanov to the NHL first, with the veteran putting the rookie through a spin cycle and lifting a backhand past Allen to make it a 6-3 game.
Montreal then managed an actual self-inflicted wound later in the period, crossing off the “stay healthy” part of the checklist for this game. Shea Weber fired a heavy slapshot on net, and it managed to catch Paul Byron right in the skate boot, knocking him to the ice immediately. Byron needed help to the tunnel, making it seem like it might be a serious injury. He was able to return to the bench after several minutes before then heading back to the locker room.
A late power play gave Montreal a chance to get Toffoli his second hat trick in as many nights, but a fantastic save from Demko denied him the chance.
The game wasn’t without one final horrible moment thanks to Myers. Armia was working along the boards for a puck, and Myers lifted up and into Armia’s head, dropping the Finn and earning himself a five-minute major.
The Habs scored on the ensuing power play, with Ben Chiarot netting the first man-advantage goal of his career, sealing the game for good at 7-3.
Montreal, now with potentially two massive injuries to Armia and Byron may have to dip into their taxi squad for Saturday’s finale against the Canucks. Carey Price and Braden Holtby are the expected starters for the 7:00 PM EST clash.
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