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Photo Credit: IIHF

Canucks Prospects at WJHC – Day 4

The first Saturday of the World Juniors provided some intriguing games as the competition level took a step forward.

It started with Switzerland and Denmark meeting in a game that was must-win to avoid the relegation playoffs at the end of the preliminary, that was followed by Finland taking on Slovakia, Canada took on the Czech Republic and then ended with the marquee matchup of Sweden and USA.

The Canucks were well represented on this day with all four players suiting up for their respective countries.

Toni Utunen (Finland)

Tonight: 0-0-0, 4 SOG, 14:47 TOI

Tournament: 3GP 0G-0A-0PT

Toni Utunen saw some more ice today compared to yesterday and made the most of it with four shots on goal.

That total of 14:47 was ranked fourth among Finnish defenceman as they cruised to a 5-1 win over Slovakia.

It will be interesting to see how he is deployed in Finland’s final preliminary round game against the Americans.

Michael DiPietro (Canada)

Tonight: 23 saves on 24 shots – 1.00 GAA & 0.958 SV%

Tournament:  2-0-0, 0.50 GAA. 09.74 SV% and 1 S/O

Michael DiPietro did what he was supposed to do in a game that Canada should’ve won.

Facing 24 shots, DiPietro turned away 23 of them and showed that he appears to be the right man for the job for the remainder of the tournament. So many times in the past, Canadian goalies have given up that goal or two that keeps the pesky teams in the game and then it’s a high stakes ride for the rest of the contest. After giving up the tieing goal to Ondrej Machala at 6:40 of the first period:

To be fair, DiPietro had no chance on. After that, he shut the door and made quite a few noteworthy saves along the way.

With the Czechs out of the way now, Canada will face Russia on New Years Eve and the pressure will be on. Assuming that Russia will defeat Switzerland tomorrow, then Russia and Canada will be playing for top spot in Pool A and it could go a long way towards the matchups the rest of the way.

If DiPietro can play the way he did tonight and let the Canadian offence do their thing, then Canada could lock up that top spot before the calendar flips to 2019.

Quinn Hughes (United States)

Tonight: 0-1-1, 4 SOG, 27:23 TOI

Tournament: 3GP 0G-2A-2PT

The Americans were looking to end Sweden’s preliminary win streak at 46 games and gave them a run for their money, coming back from a 4-0 deficit to force overtime before losing in overtime.

Hughes was being watched very closely by the Swedish forecheckers and thus was fairly limited in his chances in the first half of the game. There was one sequence where he created a great chance but moments later had a mistake that led directly to the goal that put Sweden up 3-0 at the time:

After the Swedes went up 4-0, the Americans slowly started to chip away and the balance of play evened out. Hughes was then able to create some offence on is own, eventually picking up a secondary assist on Ryan Poehling’s second goal on the night

Hughes had a fantastic chance in overtime but was unable to bury the puck on the scramble. After that opportunity, he was dog tired and had to defend for a considerable amount of time. The Swedes scored on one of the subsequent shifts.

It was up and down game for the Canucks top prospect but when he was in control of the puck in the offensive zone, he showed how he can dictate the game out there. On the flipside, when he tries to do too much, it looks really bad.

Overall, there have been some encouraging signs from his performance and with a little more shooting luck from his teammates and Hughes would have a higher point total.

Hughes did end the game with the most time on ice among all American players.

Tyler Madden (United States)

Tonight: 0-0-0, 0 SOG, 22:23 TOI

Tournament: 3GP 1G-1A-2PT

Tyler Madden didn’t stand out in the same ways as previous nights but was solid overall. He led all American forwards in total time on ice

With the relentless forecheck of the Swedes, Madden wasn’t able to dictate the play as he did against Slovakia and Kazakhstan. This resulted in him being lost in the weeds a bit for the USA.

Once the Americans started to storm back, Madden saw regular shifts but it was the big guns buzzing for the Americans and thus they stood out.

Madden did get an overtime shift and had a couple of fantastic defensive plays:

He followed that up with this one:

Madden wasn’t going stand out in every game and in the first half of the game, the Swedes played a game that just shut down the Americans transition and as a result, limited their ability to create a forecheck. This forced Madden to play a more passive game and thus his strengths weren’t utilized on a shift-by-shift basis. With that being said, the fact that he was out in overtime and made those two plays means he did have an impact on the game and should be viewed as a good thing.

The best thing he can do is learn from this game and hopefully get back at it versus Finland.

Schedule

There will be no Canucks prospects playing tomorrow

  • Larionov18

    Madden and Quinn have been fun to watch. Quinn gets a little cute at times but Travis will reign that in a little. Madden reminds me of Bo. Such tenacity.

      • DogBreath

        Based on what I’ve seen, I agree with the above two points. His offence is elite (and fun to watch). I wouldn’t pencil him into next years starting line-up quite yet. This will illicit many trashes, but some time focussing on the defensive game in Utica may not be the worst thing for his development.

      • Tedchinook

        I suspect he’s doing things he can get away with in the NCAA but is going to have to make an adjustment playing in the World Juniors. And it’ll probably be the same thing when he steps up to the Canucks – a learning process of finding what he can and can’t do against that level of competition.

  • Smyl and Snepsts

    This going to get me a lot of hate mail but I want sold on Quinn when we drafted him and I still am not. He is going to have to be incredibly elite offensively to make up for being sub par in his own end I think. I was hoping to draft Bouchard personally. Dont get me wrong. I hope he blows the doors off all expectations to prove me wrong and help lead the team into the future. Just not seeing the domination i had hoped for against other top juniors in the championships

    • FinkFast

      It is funny that you say that. Every analysis that I have read so far days that Bouchard really struggles in his own end, and Quinn is surprisingly good in it. Are you are you are not equating “small” with “bad at defense”? It certainly doesn’t help to be fun-sized, but Quinns positioning, stickwork, and agility go a long long way.

    • Puck Viking

      I wanted Dobson so I fully understand and for the exact reasons you mentioned. Small and not great in his own end, is also why I dont think he will ever be a top pair guy. He is more likely to get 1st unit PP and o-zone starts but will never be that all purpose top pairing guy.

      • Defenceman Factory

        What will allow Hughes to be a 1st pairing guy is how well he moves the puck out of his own zone. In the game against Slovakia he had 70% controlled zone exits. That is domination. While Hughes didn’t stand out to the same extent in this game, the Swedes played very well and did a great job double teaming and controlling him. He played 27 minutes on a team that was behind the whole game. Pushing for goals, taking chances and fatigue contributed to defensive gaps Hughes might have had.

        You do have a valid point however. Hughes doesn’t look like that top shut down guy and is going to need a strong defensive partner to do the heavy lifting in the Dzone. He is however perfect for a team who play a fast game and his ability to get the puck to shooters is going to push up the goals.

        Bouchard doesn’t look like the kid I read about in the scouting reports before last summer’s draft. His skating looks pretty good actually and he doesn’t look like a defensive liability. He is going to be a very good defenceman if the Oilers don’t ruin him. With the Oilers dropping in the standings Jack Hughes has to be getting worried. What a mess that team is.

        • Puck Viking

          Fully agree.

          Once we landed Hughes I was so hoping we could have landed the NYIs pick to take Dobson. Having a combo of Hughes and Dobson would be unreal for the next 10+ years. I was holding out hope the NYI would have sent us Dobson for Joulevi until the injury. They need a LHD big time.

        • Spiel

          Quinn was also responsible for the 3rd Sweden goal on a bad neutral zone giveaway while trying to do too much. Noticed that he was also not the always in the first D pair our for powerplays. Maybe that was a factor of even strength playing time.

  • crofton

    DiPietro looks like the real thing. Saw him in Penticton and was impressed with him there as well. The graphic they put up in the 2nd intermission said it all. Canada outshooting the Czechs, but the Czechs having a ton more shots from the high risk areas.

  • Kanuckhotep

    Excellent points are being made by fans here as per Quinn Hughes. Benning drafted him for his ability to think on his feet creatively at top speed and be a prime candidate to QB the PP IMO. His size is of some concern but was not selected because he’s a Scott Stevens or Nick Lidstrom type.(few are) QH is a smart kid from a solid sports family and any reticence anyone has about his D side would be addressed by Green and his staff, and the kid will listen. Shelter his minutes a bit, bring him along slowly and we’ll have a quality blue liner for years to come.

  • Cageyvet

    All I know is that it’s far too soon to be passing judgement on Quinn Hughes, Bouchard, Robson, or any of the others.

    Dominance at this level is good, but no guarantee of future success. Today’s flaws may become tomorrow’s strengths, or at least be eliminated as weaknesses.

    One thing that’s been proven time and again over the years is that you can’t teach pure skill, or character. A lack of either can certainly stop a player from becoming elite, but it’s very hard to put a ceiling on a player with enough skill and a heart that won’t quit. Those also tend to be the players who get the job done when the chips are down. I don’t know who fits the bill, but let’s hope Hughes is one of those kids whose heart and drive to improve get him to achieve his full potential.

  • Spiel

    Madden pick looking better and better. His role on the US team is seemingly increasing. Has a lot skill to go along with some tenacity. Our USHL/US scouts have been very good lately with Gaudette, Lockwood, Madden, and Rathbone in the mid rounds. Boeser and Hughes in the first.