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CanucksArmy World Junior Recap: Canada 7 – 2 Czech Republic

The Canadians are the preeminent hockey power until further notice, so any game against a team lower on the totem pole than Russia, Sweden, Finland or the United States has blowout potential.

This game didn’t read that way though. Not before puck drop, anyway. The Czechs have been playing the role of spoiler all tournament, from their surprise 5-4 victory over the Russians to their quarterfinals win against a heavily favoured Team Finland. Like most underdogs, they’ve built their success in large part due to their goaltending. Sometimes a goaltender goes a run, and there’s no accounting for the title dreams they’ll crush.

This game should have been close. At the very least, competitive hockey didn’t seem like a tall ask.

And when 2018 NHL Entry Draft prospect Filip Zadina got the Czechs on the board first, the table seemed set for just that. The Canadian firepower proved too much to handle though, and by the first horn, Sam Steel and Drake Batherson had retaken the lead.

In the second period, Drake Batherson added to the Canadian lead early scoring his second of three goals on the night, and then the floodgates opened. Maxime Comtois, Jordan Kyrou, and Batherson again scored for Canada. The Czechs changed pulled Josef Korenar, who used all his magic in their quarterfinals match against the Finns and had nothing left in the tank.

Boris Katchouk for Canada and Zadina, again, for the Czech Republic added goals in garbage time, which comprised the entirety of the third period.

Notes

Drake Batherson (2017 OTT 4th)

As an overage prospect who didn’t produce at even a point per game in the QMJHL, Batherson wasn’t even on CanucksArmy’s radar for last year’s draft. I don’t think he got a single ranking from any of our writers. Goes to show — probability isn’t destiny.

With tonight’s hat-trick, Batherson has seven goals in six games this tournament and no helpers. He’s in the lead for Cy Young consideration with a stat line like that.

The interesting thing about Batherson is that there hasn’t been any one part of his game that sticks out as elite. He has a good shot, but it’s hardly exceptional. There’s probably a good amount of luck that goes into shooting 41%, but he’s also playing some damn good hockey. And considering he wasn’t even on Team Canada’s radar for the tournament a few months ago, that makes for one hell of a story.

Cale Makar (2017 COL 1st)

I was a big fan of Makar’s game ahead of last year’s draft, but the question mark was always how he would fare against better competition once he left the AJHL. He’s doing just fine with UMass-Amherst in the NCAA, and he’s been producing offence at an obscene rate relative to his ice-time for Team Canada in the World Juniors. Questions answered, it would seem.

In limited ice-time, Makar is scoring at over a point per game pace. He’s second on Team Canada in points with eight in seven games behind only Kyrou who’s just one ahead. His skating is fantastic and the way he snaps the puck off his stick, whether it’s a crisp tape-to-tape pass or an accurate snap shot.

Makar’s coaches voted him one of Canada’s top three players of the tournament, which is interesting given how sparingly they used him from the start of the tournament right through their quarterfinals match with the Suisse.

Filip Zadina (2018 NHL Entry Draft Eligible)

Anytime a player in their draft year gets a sizeable role in the World Juniors, you know there’s something special about them. Enter Filip Zadina, who spent the entire tournament on the Czech Republic’s first line and rewarded them with eight points in six games, including two goals against Team Canada tonight. What a player. And a team player at that.

Whether you should or not (recency bias can really mess with player evaluations), you’re going to start hearing a lot of people talking Zadina up as a potential second overall in this year’s draft. Zadina has the second-highest SEAL adjusted scoring last time CanucksArmy’s Jeremy Davis did his draft rankings. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea after all?

Zadina plays such a smart, mature game. His shot is excellent and he does a good job of finding cracks in the defensive coverage for his teammates to set him up to use it.

  • Great effort and a convincing win. Hopefully our boys prevail tomorrow so we don’t have to hear more whining about Team Canada selection process, until next year. A couple things that get lost behind some stellar offensive performances.

    Gadjovich’s work on the PK half way through the 1st was awesome. It was 1-0 for the Czechs at that point and a big kill was needed. He went into the corner in the Czech end and just ate clock

    The hit Comtois put on the Dman just before Comtois scored was epic. Comtois was a goat in the outdoor game but his goal tonight was a beauty and put Canada up by 3. I’m sure that Dman can still feel the hit.

    • Gadjovich appears to be an excellent team player. He skates pretty good, handles the puck quite well, good penalty killer, keeps feet moving, goes to the net.
      Hope to see him in Utica next season.

  • “Goes to show — probability isn’t destiny.” – J.D. Burke

    “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it”….Will Munny while chatting with “Little Bill” Daggett about destiny.

    Tim Thomas had an undeserved destiny—– Canucks fans feel ya, Little Bill”.

  • Come on JD! A couple sentences on Gadjovich?!?! Maybe a small Paragraph??? Atleast mention his name…

    I know hes not the stand out from the game or on the team but hes our guy!!! Something like: “Gad played well in his prescribed roll. Got Pucks Deep, Put pucks to the net and was viscous on the forecheck. Gadjovich has continued to impress me with his strong skating and puck moving skills…. he may not be the most offensively gifted player but the canucks might have a decent “utility knife” on there hands. We will see if he can take that next step in Utica next season and maybe can carve out a good bottom 6 roll at the NHL level if his development continues in an upward trajectory.”

    Even fluff like that I would be happy with…. anything please.

    Other than that, great recap and stoked for tonights game!!