Saturday, December 26, 2009

World Junior Saturday, Happy Boxing Day

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas celebration yesterday.

If you want to get a look at two out of three players who should be near the top of any Bruins fan's wishlist for the draft, and you have access to the NHL Network, the Canada-Latvia and USA-Slovakia games, the first of the 2010 World Junior Championship, will be broadcast at 4 and 8 pm Eastern respectively in the U.S.

Now that the tournament, being played in Regina and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is underway, the hockey season is really heating up!

Taylor Hall, the odds-on favorite to be the top pick in next June's draft, can be seen skating for Team Canada, and is the only 2010-eligible to make the returning champions (who try to make it an unprecedented six straight since the Americans won gold in '04). As a bonus, B's fans can catch their team's top pick from last summer, winger Jordan Caron, in that game as well. Caron is the only Bruins prospect playing in the tournament.

For Team USA, defenseman Cam Fowler, Hall's Windsor Spitfires teammate, is wearing No. 24. He played for the team last year, and has looked good in the exhibition after an outstanding start to the OHL season.

Fowler is a complete defenseman: possessing excellent size, passing, shooting and all-around skills. He's seen as the one marquee talent at that position so far in the Class of '10, although Brandon Gormley is rising in the eyes of a lot of scouts who have been to Moncton to see him play.

Team USA also has three New England natives playing on the squad. There is a pair of Boxfordites (Mass.) in Chris Kreider (19th overall pick of the Rangers last summer) and Ryan Bourque (also picked by the Rangers -3rd round and son of Bruins legend Ray Bourque). BU defenseman David Warsofsy, who I saw win the national championship with the Terriers in Washington D.C. last April, also made the team.

Canada is the heavy favorite, but I think Team Sweden could play the role of spoiler. Team USA is deep, but unless they get amazing goaltending, not sure how well they match up against Canada and the Swedes.

Should be a great tournament, and next year, I plan to be in Buffalo to cover it in person. Until then, I'll have to be content watching it on NHL Network. Be sure to check your local listings for the game schedule in your area. Team USA takes the ice again tomorrow afternoon (4 EST)against the Swiss on NHL Network, so you'll have another chance to catch them if you miss today's action.

Oh, and it's Boxing Day in Canada. That holiday celebrated by our friends north of the border always rings in the WJC and I always seem to forget mentioning it!

UPDATE: Canada crushed the hapless Latvians by a 16-0 score. Gabriel Bourque, who looks like he may have been a steal for Nashville after being taken in the fifth round (132nd overall) in Montreal tied Team Canada's single-game points record (7) with Dave Andreychuk and Mike Cammalleri thanks to his three goals, four assists.

Taylor Hall didn't light it up, but he showed off his excellent skating and ability to stickhandle in traffic on several occasions. He's a guy you watch and realize that in a matter of minutes, he can take over a game by himself. He'll break through at some point during this tourney, and when he does, you'll understand what the hype is about.

Jordan Caron was solid for Team Canada...nothing spectacular. He's a big boy; a widebody who worked hard along the boards and took the puck to the net quite a bit, but got himself in too close and couldn't get the puck up in order to find the back of the net. But still, a lot to like and he looks like a nice pickup for the Bruins with the 25th overall selection last June.

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