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Canada passes first tough test at world juniors as medal round looms – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — They have been referred to, this pesky country of hockey hard workers, as a stone in every nation’s shoe that dares go into hockey battle against tiny — but mighty — Finland. Smaller in population than either Quebec or Ontario, the Finns have won three of the past seven world junior titles.

Well, sometimes the book is better than the movie.

If this was truly Canada’s first big test at the 2021 tournament, then they passed it like a kid that’s homeschooling — with the internet at their fingertips.

Dominant? The 4-1 final score does not begin to tell the tale of how simply possessing the puck for more than one pass in a row was a Herculean task for the Finns in the opening 40 minutes.

The shots on goal in Period 1? How does 17-1 sound, in favour of the red team?

“We were real fired up to get out there,” said Dylan Cozens, who scored the first and last goals of the evening. “I think that was our best period in the tournament so far.”

The shots were 35-7 after 40 minutes — 40-19 overall — and Canada cruises into the quarterfinals with a perfect 4-0 record, yet to be truly tested by a team that one might see as their equal.

“Team Canada, “ marvelled Finnish coach Antti Pennanen, “they were so good at the start of the game.”

Canada outscored its opponents 33-4 in the group stage. They allowed just 67 shots over four games, or 17 per game.

Unless Finland was playing rope-a-dope, it appears there are only three teams that can test Canada here, and they reside on the other side of the draw: Russia, the United States and Sweden. Canada will likely see only one or two of those teams, as it is the Czech Republic that awaits in Saturday’s sudden-death quarterfinal.

If Canada plays as well against the Czechs as they did Thursday versus Finland, they’ll win by five or six.

Buzz, Buzz, Buzz

Canada’s forecheck came like the tides — line, after line, after line. Like they were being attacked by a hive of bees, poor Finland must have felt like the only solution was to grab the puck and jump into a lake somewhere.

It is exactly the game head coach Andre Tourigny wants from his charges, and you could sense the confidence in his voice that the lessons he has been teaching have seeded, and are now growing roots.

“I said to our players, ‘You can be happy about a performance, or you can be proud of your performance. Both are good, but being proud of your performance is even better,’” Tourigny said after the game.

His players are catching what he’s pitching, and when the result produces a game this dominant against a good team like Finland, it builds that bond between player and coach.

“We came out and played our best game so far,” said Cozens, who has six goals and 11 points to lead Team Canada in both categories. “They had a tough time getting out of their zone… and it really showed our identity. Speed — we created a lot of turnovers and went the other way really quick.

“We’ve been a little bit (on the) perimeter so far. We really got inside tonight.”

Bowen Byram, the smooth-skating defenceman who looks like a lock to play 1,000 NHL games, agreed.

“Today was our best 60-minute effort. In the first two periods we were all over them,” he said. “It showed our identity. We’re happy, and on to the quarters.”

Yes, something truly did click for Canada on Thursday, perhaps due to the threat of defeat. Finland, it seems, made Canada dig a little deeper than Germany, Switzerland or Slovakia could, and what the Canadians found was golden.

“When you have that kind of depth, you need to exploit it,” Tourigny explained. “You play at a pace where you push the game to a level, and you can not do it for 45 or 50 seconds. You need to keep your shifts short — that’s 30, 40 seconds — then it’s next man up. Having four lines playing with a lot of pace, that’s what the boys are doing right now. Every time they go on the ice they play with a lot of energy, a lot of effort.

“They’re going balls out. That’s the way we’ll have success.”

A Finnish Finish

Somehow, someway, the Finns found themselves with their goalie pulled and pressure in the Canadian zone in the dying moments of the game. Just one shot away from a one-goal game with two minutes to play.

It was so Finnish: Dominated for 45 minutes, the score was still only 3-1. One good shot and it would have been 3-2, and then, who knows?

Alas, Cozens stole a puck and found the empty net, and there would be no Helsinki Heroes on this night.

“The start of the game, we weren’t ready at all. Team Canada was so good,” said head coach Pennanen. “They won all the battles, the loose pucks. We tried to improve those things, and I think we did. But we had some problems at the start of the game.

Team Canada was so good today. So many good players, well-coached… Such a good team.”

The Finns barely touched the puck in the first period. It was a shock. This wasn’t supposed to be so one-sided.

“They like to shoot the puck a lot — I had to be focussed all the time,” said starting goalie Kari Piroinen. “We knew what they’re going to do. But today we couldn’t find a way.”

Finland has won three of the last seven World Juniors, not bad for a country whose population is 5.5 million people. But they’ll have to find a completely new level to see Canada again — the game the Finns played Thursday won’t get them out of the quarterfinals.

“We didn’t play so good as last game (versus Slovakia),” admitted defenceman Mikko Kokkonen. “We didn’t get pucks out early, and we had to defend longer. We didn’t have the energy (to go on offence).”

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Maple Leafs’ Andersen quells outside concern with stellar game vs. Jets – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO — Call off the hounds.

Crazy as it might sound not even a full week into the NHL season, they had already started to gather outside Scotiabank Arena.

All it took was for Frederik Andersen and Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe to acknowledge that the goaltender was not at his best during Friday’s loss in Ottawa for the whiff of controversy to waft through the air.

Presumably, now, that talk should disappear as quickly as it arrived. Andersen was rock solid during a 3-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets that calmed the waters on a number of fronts.

“It was a much simpler game for Fred and he looked extremely confident and in control here tonight,” said Keefe. “So that gives us confidence as a team and it should give him confidence, too, that whatever he has done to prepare from last game to this one, it benefitted him.”

It had been an unusual 48 hours between starts: Andersen didn’t dress at all for the second half of the back-to-back against the Senators, getting in extra work with goalie coach Steve Briere on Saturday morning before watching Jack Campbell play while Aaron Dell backed up.

That wiped his schedule clean of the typical game-day meetings plus the extra stretching and mental preparation the second goaltender goes through even when not likely to see any action.

“A little new thing we’re trying,” said Andersen. “I think it was good. … I got to stay at the hotel a little bit longer and just come for the game.”

There’s a decent chance it’s a one-off after Dell got claimed by New Jersey from the waiver wire on Monday, leaving Michael Hutchinson to move up to Toronto’s taxi squad as the No. 3 goaltending option.

That won’t bother Keefe since he didn’t think there was any magic in the plan.

All it did was buy his No. 1 guy more time to sharpen his game following training camp that included no exhibition games and a frantic charge towards the season. Still, it was reassuring to see Andersen confidently turn aside 27 Winnipeg shots, arguably the best of them against Mark Scheifele late in a first period where the Leafs controlled zone time but hadn’t yet grabbed a lead.

“It was his best game, for sure, just the way that he tracked the puck,” said Keefe. “He looked super calm in there. I think it’s also not a coincidence that it was probably the easiest night he had in front of him tonight. You know we didn’t give up very much at all and when we did there wasn’t much by way of second chances in around the net.

“We did a much better job in that area.”

There are a couple obvious reasons why Andersen’s play is under such scrutiny. He’s in a contract year and coming off the worst statistical season of his career, for starters. Plus the Leafs explored the goalie market for a replacement before bringing him back this fall.

But, to let you behind the media curtain, it’s also because this has been a non-story for so long and the possibility of intrigue now exists.

Andersen has played 247 games for the Leafs since arriving here in 2016, with Curtis McElhinney next on the franchise’s list during that period with 32 appearances. Campbell has seven games under his belt for the blue and white.

However, with huge expectations and an uncertain future beyond the summer, the tectonic plates are shifting beneath the surface. Any existing loyalties aren’t likely to outlast a run of substandard performance.

And for an offensively-inclined team that has historically struggled to lock games down, you can’t have a goalie fumbling away strong efforts like the one we saw against Winnipeg. That’s where Andersen made some big strides. The Leafs controlled puck possession and the entirety of the second period and still found themselves in a tight 2-1 contest with 20 minutes to play.

“If anything, it made it harder for us in the third period,” said Keefe. “I think hard is good for our team with where we need to grow.”

Andersen is a stay-in-the-moment performer, the kind who would never let you know if he felt outside pressure. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.

He turned aside 12 third-period shots and took a second star turn when the buzzer sounded.

There will be more nights off for him than usual with a compressed schedule that includes four games in six days this week, but performances like this will quell the outside concern.

“Freddie’s one of the best in the league,” said Leafs captain John Tavares. “We’ve got so much faith in him. … Just being well sorted defensively without the puck and working to get it back will make life easy on him because we know he’s going to make the saves when it’s predictable and he’s able to challenge and be aggressive and be the netminder that he is.”

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Canadiens @ Oilers Top Six Minutes: Habs win festival of penalties – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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For our new readers and members, the Top Six Minutes is a continuation of the discussion in the game thread. We try to keep it light and entertaining. Full recaps are up the morning after every game.

Do you remember when the Montreal Canadiens traded a bag of pucks and several sticks of gum for Jeff Petry? I sure do. Do you remember the last time Jeff Petry scored two goals in a single game? I sure hope you do, because it was against the same Oilers that acquired pucks and gum for him a few nights ago. The pucks and gum, in case you were concerned, have accounted for zero career goals. Oilers are bad at trading.

After all, the Edmonton Oilers once traded Wayne Gretzky, in case you didn’t know. That should tell you all you need to know about that team.

First Period

  • Jake Allen making his first start. I’m already wincing when the puck goes anywhere near his zone.
  • That’s not fair to Allen whatsoever but the recent history of Habs backups has shot my confidence. If you know, you know.
  • I like Ben Chiarot, but I don’t at all like him sliding a brutally inaccurate pass for an icing. That pass was almost as dumb as trying to fight Wayne Simmonds.
  • Alexander Romanov looks like he wants nothing more than to light people up tonight. Welcome to the gulag, Oilers forwards.
  • Josh Anderson just went to the dressing room and I want to cry, sort of. Please be okay.
  • APPARENTLY ROMANOV ALSO WANTS TO LIGHT UP THE SCOREBOARD. 1-0 FROM RUSSIA WITH THE LOVE BONE.
  • Jake Allen just made a couple of really good saves in a short period of time. A reliable backup? In Montreal? It cannot be.
  • Phillip Danault to the box. Ruh Roh.
  • Joel Armia to the box. RUUUUUH ROH.
  • Ben Chiarot just turned in the most ridiculous, physical shift I have ever seen in a five on three. I hereby pardon him for the icing earlier in the period.
  • I do not, however, pardon him for taking a delay of game penalty to send them right back to that situation.
  • The Habs took THREE straight overlapping penalties and didn’t get scored on. Buy lottery tickets, folks.

Second Period

  • I did enjoy the whole killing of penalties and all, but I would much, much prefer to not see them try to do that in this period.
  • Well, apparently staying out of the box is not a priority. Romanov sends them back to the numerical inferiority.
  • KILLED. It would be nice if the Oilers would take a penalty though.
  • Oh, they actually did


  • Much like the Oilers, the Habs did not score. 0-1 is better than 0-4 though.
  • Oilers take another penalty. The turntables have really turned and tabled and stuff.
  • The Habs, this time, are doing everything but score. Since when is Mikko Koskinen good?
  • Brendan Gallagher to the box now…
  • This game might set a modern record for penalty minutes without any fights or misconducts.
  • JAKE ALLEN NASTY PAD SAVE ALERT.
  • CONNOR MCDAVID PENALTY TO END THE THREAT ALERT.
  • (That was definitely not a penalty and I’d be really mad if I was an Oiler fan) YEAH GOOD, YOU OVERPAID SCRUB.
  • Well Shea Weber just scored a goal and the refs waved it off for zero reason. Julien challenges, but I don’t see the refs overturning their own stupid decision.
  • He banked it off Koskinen’s head man, come on, let him have one.
  • I WAS WRONG. SHEA WEBER. GOAL. HOCKEY. GOOD. 2-0 GOOD GUYS.

Third Period

  • Real quick on that Weber goal, I feel like the ref was worried about getting challenged FOR goalie interference and ended up being challenged for lack thereof instead. Catch 23 situation, AMIRITE.
  • Just try to stay out of the box, please.
  • Shea Weber does not care what I say and gets himself sent to the place of shame.
  • The Habs’ penalty kill is good. Very good. I do not recognize this team despite having most of the same players it did last year.
  • Jake Allen is legit. He might not be as good as Carey Price, but I’d venture to guess that Price himself would name Allen the best goalie to wear a Habs jersey not named Carey Price in the last 10 years.
  • Oilers back to the box. A disciplined game, this one is not.
  • For as many penalties as there has been, how in the name of Maurice Richard does this game not have more goals?
  • Nick Suzuki to the box. The parade is never-ending.
  • Artturi Lehkonen??? ARTTURI LEHKONEN!
  • 3-0 Habs and go figure; 600 minor penalties and the first goal to be scored on any of them is a shorty.
  • Oilers back to the box for delay of game… Will we see a power play goal?
  • No. At least not yet. We will however have another shorthanded goal. Devin Shore. 3-1, just a tad nervous here.

EOTP 3 Stars of the night

3) That’s the first

2) Might have to retire this meme

1) Best off-season adjustment

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Maple Leafs' Andersen quells outside concern with stellar game vs. Jets – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO — Call off the hounds.

Crazy as it might sound not even a full week into the NHL season, they had already started to gather outside Scotiabank Arena.

All it took was for Frederik Andersen and Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe to acknowledge that the goaltender was not at his best during Friday’s loss in Ottawa for the whiff of controversy to waft through the air.

Presumably, now, that talk should disappear as quickly as it arrived. Andersen was rock solid during a 3-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets that calmed the waters on a number of fronts.

“It was a much simpler game for Fred and he looked extremely confident and in control here tonight,” said Keefe. “So that gives us confidence as a team and it should give him confidence, too, that whatever he has done to prepare from last game to this one, it benefitted him.”

It had been an unusual 48 hours between starts: Andersen didn’t dress at all for the second half of the back-to-back against the Senators, getting in extra work with goalie coach Steve Briere on Saturday morning before watching Jack Campbell play while Aaron Dell backed up.

That wiped his schedule clean of the typical game-day meetings plus the extra stretching and mental preparation the second goaltender goes through even when not likely to see any action.

“A little new thing we’re trying,” said Andersen. “I think it was good. … I got to stay at the hotel a little bit longer and just come for the game.”

There’s a decent chance it’s a one-off after Dell got claimed by New Jersey from the waiver wire on Monday, leaving Michael Hutchinson to move up to Toronto’s taxi squad as the No. 3 goaltending option.

That won’t bother Keefe since he didn’t think there was any magic in the plan.

All it did was buy his No. 1 guy more time to sharpen his game following training camp that included no exhibition games and a frantic charge towards the season. Still, it was reassuring to see Andersen confidently turn aside 27 Winnipeg shots, arguably the best of them against Mark Scheifele late in a first period where the Leafs controlled zone time but hadn’t yet grabbed a lead.

“It was his best game, for sure, just the way that he tracked the puck,” said Keefe. “He looked super calm in there. I think it’s also not a coincidence that it was probably the easiest night he had in front of him tonight. You know we didn’t give up very much at all and when we did there wasn’t much by way of second chances in around the net.

“We did a much better job in that area.”

There are a couple obvious reasons why Andersen’s play is under such scrutiny. He’s in a contract year and coming off the worst statistical season of his career, for starters. Plus the Leafs explored the goalie market for a replacement before bringing him back this fall.

But, to let you behind the media curtain, it’s also because this has been a non-story for so long and the possibility of intrigue now exists.

Andersen has played 247 games for the Leafs since arriving here in 2016, with Curtis McElhinney next on the franchise’s list during that period with 32 appearances. Campbell has seven games under his belt for the blue and white.

However, with huge expectations and an uncertain future beyond the summer, the tectonic plates are shifting beneath the surface. Any existing loyalties aren’t likely to outlast a run of substandard performance.

And for an offensively-inclined team that has historically struggled to lock games down, you can’t have a goalie fumbling away strong efforts like the one we saw against Winnipeg. That’s where Andersen made some big strides. The Leafs controlled puck possession and the entirety of the second period and still found themselves in a tight 2-1 contest with 20 minutes to play.

“If anything, it made it harder for us in the third period,” said Keefe. “I think hard is good for our team with where we need to grow.”

Andersen is a stay-in-the-moment performer, the kind who would never let you know if he felt outside pressure. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.

He turned aside 12 third-period shots and took a second star turn when the buzzer sounded.

There will be more nights off for him than usual with a compressed schedule that includes four games in six days this week, but performances like this will quell the outside concern.

“Freddie’s one of the best in the league,” said Leafs captain John Tavares. “We’ve got so much faith in him. … Just being well sorted defensively without the puck and working to get it back will make life easy on him because we know he’s going to make the saves when it’s predictable and he’s able to challenge and be aggressive and be the netminder that he is.”

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