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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Running up the score, World Juniors goaltenders, and which Canucks goalie starts on opening night?

Another week, another mailbag.

It’s the last mailbag of the offseason, as next week’s edition will be coming at you on day one of training camp. I’ve got a few ideas of what I want to do with that one (more on that later), but for now, let’s see what you wonderful people asked this week!

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Personally, I enjoy the World Juniors, but I don’t think anybody likes to see a completely one-sided affair in which one team dominates and runs up the score.

That’s exactly what happened when Canada played Germany in the preliminary round of the World Juniors on Boxing Day. I’m pretty indifferent on this one, but what I will say is that I’ve been on both sides of it, and it would personally piss me off more if a team was dominating against us then stopped trying after reaching a certain number.

It might make me even angrier if the team ran up the score and celebrated just as hard for the first goal as they did the ninth goal. Canada didn’t do that, so honestly, I don’t have a huge issue with it.

I get the idea that it’s bad karma to run up the score like that, but if you take your foot off the gas, it could be hard to get back up to speed again when you play against a more competitive team.

There are good points to be had on both sides, but I certainly lean more toward the “if you’re going to dominate, just don’t celebrate like you’ve just won the cup after goal number seven” side.

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Austria’s goaltender, Sebastian Wraneschitz, faced 68 shots in his team’s 11-0 defeat to team USA, so I’ll say him.

His performance garnered praise on social media, and I was reminded of the string of performances Canucks’ goaltending prospect Arturs Silovs turned in for Team Latvia at the 2019 tournament before he was drafted.

Silovs was backstopping a lacklustre Latvia team and impressed everybody watching the tournament, including the Canucks. The tournament was when Silovs really put himself on the Canucks’ radar, despite a 1-4 record at the tournament.

Perhaps with a few more strong showings, Wraneschitz can put himself on a team’s radar? He’d be an overager, so I doubt he gets drafted in 2021, but maybe he goes the journeyman route and gets noticed by the right people, who knows?

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Joel Blomqvist was the goalie that the Canucks were very high on. This almost certainly started with goaltending coach Ian Clark, who has an astute eye for recognizing talented goaltenders.

Blomqvist was selected in the second round by the Pittsburgh Penguins, long before the Canucks’ first pick of the 2020 draft, which was in the third round.

I identified Blomqvist as a goalie I really liked before the draft took place, and before I even knew of the Canucks’ interest in him. You can read a more in-depth report I wrote about him here.

The only issue is, the Finnish coaching staff has decided to go with experience over trusting an unproven netminder in Blomqvist.

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Unfortunately, I won’t be able to get a great look at him at this tournament, but I still have no doubt in my mind he’ll be a great goaltender in the NHL down the road.

As for Devon Levi, my jaw has had to be picked up off the ground a few times while watching him play. This kid came out of seemingly nowhere and has been dynamite for Team Canada. Canada didn’t have their best game against Slovakia on Sunday, but Levi was extremely solid and held them in it.

What surprised me most is how quiet Levi’s feet are, how positionally sound he is, and how narrow his stance is. Levi actually reminds me a lot of Blomqvist in that regard, in that he has quick lateral movement while not being overly busy with his feet.

Pucks tend to stick to him, and his rebound control is excellent.

An interesting question, because there’s one team who simply can’t rely on their goalies, and it’s Germany.

Both their starter and their backups are on the shelf due to positive COVID-19 tests from before the tournament got underway, and it shows.

The German netminders have had an incredibly tough go, and cost their team more than a couple of goals, especially in the loss against Canada.

So to answer the question, I’ll say Germany will rely least on their goalies to win games, simply because they can’t afford to.

And finally, our first and last Canucks related question of the *checks notes* CanucksArmy mailbag (hey, I don’t pick the questions).

I’m going to use the phone a friend and cite Kevin Woodley, who joined us for episode 122 of the Canucks Conversation Podcast. I was originally thinking that heading into training camp, the Canucks would be leaning more toward the veteran Braden Holtby to be the team’s starter.

Woodley made an excellent point in saying that it’s likely Demko since he’s worked with Ian Clark longer than Holtby has, and I agree with him on that. That being said, Holtby is one of the best goaltenders in the league at instantly applying new philosophies to his game, and has already gotten to work with Clark.

I certainly think it’s going to be a near 50/50 split, and with such a compact schedule, having a set “starter” is almost not important.

For example, the Canucks kick off their season with a back to back against Edmonton. Guess what? Whoever starts game one, is likely going to sit out game two.

It’s going to be a battle for starts all season long between Demko and Holtby, but especially early on in the season, given there will be no preseason games played.

For now, I’m giving the edge to Demko to start opening night, but don’t sleep on Holtby either.

That’s all for this week, folks! To ask a question in a future mailbag, be sure to follow me on Twitter @QuadreIli, and look out for the weekly call for questions! Next week’s mailbag should be interesting, as it will be coming out on the first day of Canucks training camp. Maybe a live article that gets updated throughout the day? Who knows? Stay tuned, and stay safe everyone!