If I was given a vote for Canada's best forward in the tournament, it would go to Cody Hodgson.
Let's get the disclaimer out of the way. I love John Tavares and I have no problem with him being chosen as the top player in the tournament. I've been watching him since he was a little kid, he is a tremendous athlete and he had a phenomenal tournament, but for me the best all-around player and the tournament MVP was Hodgson.
Hodgson did everything for Canada. He scored goals including an enormous one in the Gold medal game, but it was more than that. No matter who he was playing against, be it the Americans, Russians, Swedes, he was absolutely terrific. I'm sure that he logged more minutes than any Canadian forward by the time it was all said and done. He was the offensive engine of this team, whether it be at even strength with Jordan Eberle and Zach Boychuk or making Tavares look great with perfect cross-crease passes on the power play.
Although I was blown away by his play, I was not surprised. Going into this tournament I absolutely believed that he would be Canada's best all-around player and he did not disappoint. The Vancouver Canucks got a steal by choosing this kid 10th overall pick. Hodgson is all character and as mature a young man as you can find.
He has played for Canada in major international competitions on three occasions. The first was the Ivan Hlinka Under-18 tournament where he was the best player. He showed more character and leadership than anyone on that team that included number one draft pick Steven Stamkos. He was also the captain for Pat Quinn at another Under-18 tournament and he was once again the best overall player for Canada. With this tournament he is now three-for-three with the Maple Leaf on his chest.
Team Canada's power play was the difference in this tournament as assistant coach Guy Boucher did a tremendous job bringing together so many skillful players on the PP. They used a unique 1-3-1 configuration, which is not used an awful lot with defenceman P.K. Subban coming in off the point. It is all predicated on Ryan Ellis being able to make smart decisions with the puck and his ability to get it down low to Tavares and Hodgson.
There were just so many options for Canada with the man-advantage and they were able to score twice on the power play on the night; the opening goal, which really energized the crowd and the third goal, which for me was the big one. At 2-0 for Canada, the game could go either way, but Hodgson's goal was the difference.
This is the same power play that Boucher used when he was an assistant coach with the Rimouski Oceanic, which of course featured Sidney Crosby. The skill level on this power play unit with Ellis, Subban, Tavares, Hodgson and Jordan Eberle is unmatched to any that I have seen in a long time with Team Canada.
If Hodgson was the best player, there is no question that the fan favourite quickly became PK Subban.
Subban has a lot of character and charisma, but he is also a terrific skater and he's got a dynamic presence on offence and for this tournament, he really buckled down and played some terrific defence.
There were a few anxious moments, where he got caught up ice a few times, however he has such great speed that he makes up for it. He was a huge factor on the Canadian power play and there were certain occasions that he sensed that the team needed a big rush down the ice. The best example was in the game with Germany in the third period where Canada was leading 2-1, there was people wondering if there was an upset brewing. Who leads the rush down ice but PK Subban. Evander Kane was able to score to secure it for Canada.The Montreal Canadiens have to be extremely excited about how this young man played.
The Canadian defence as a whole saved their best for last as the Gold medal game was their best effort as an eight-man unit. It's not very often that you say this about a defensive defenceman but I thought the best player on the ice in the Gold medal game was Tyler Myers.
He was excellent with his stick and positioning as he repeatedly broke up plays and was absolutely huge on the penalty kill as Canada took four straight penalties in the second period.
While Thomas Hickey and Colton Teubert had been up-and-down throughout the tournament, both were exceptional against Sweden. This was the first time that Canada employed an eight-man blueline and every man played their role.