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McKenzie: Jenner dominant for Canada in tournament debut

Bob McKenzie
12/31/2012 3:14:09 PM
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Maybe the most gratifying thing for coach Steve Spott and Team Canada was the way they played in the third period when they were protecting a two-goal lead against a very fierce opponent.

The cycle game that they got going – especially from the Boone Jenner-Brett Ritchie-Phillip Danault line – just dominated the game for long stretches. That is just ground-and-pound. If you're wearing down the Russian team in their own end, they're not a threat to score a goal.

Having Boone Jenner back in the line-up really keys things for Canada. To have 13 forwards at their disposal again is a big advantage.

He was able to step up and absolutely dominate physically and he's been playing like this all season long for the Oshawa Generals.

As I've said countless times: If the NHL season had begun in October, I don't think he'd be in the Columbus Blue Jackets' line-up. But, the way he's played in Oshawa this year – where he's looked like a man amongst boys, and he's done the same thing in this tournament – he could be in the NHL real soon.

Experience Matters

We've been saying all tournament that the number one advantage Team Canada has over other teams in this tournament is that they've got a 19-year-old Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who's able to participate in this tournament in his last year of eligibility and he's dominating offensively.

He had three assists on the day and is leading the tournament in scoring. For Steve Spott to have the instincts to put Jonathan Drouin on Nugent-Hopkins' wing and to have it pay off the way it did, that got Canada rolling in the early-going and it created offence from the power play.

Under-manned

The Russians were already down one man due to injuries. Andrei Sigarev – who's a real good player on the top line with Nail Yakupov and Alexander Khokhlachev didn't play in this game due to injury – and early on Valeri Nikushkin drills Tyler Wotherspoon from behind into the glass.

That's a five-minute major and a game misconduct and might lead to a one-game suspension for Sigarev.

You're already down one forward in Sigarev, you lose a guy like Nikushkin who has been very good for them – he's draft eligible this year and likely to go pretty high in the first round – it's tough.

Power Surge

As soon a sthe game against the Americans ended - where they had that five-on-three power play that didn't generate much of anything – Steve Spott was really unhappy with the team trying to be way too cute, not getting pucks to the net and not getting pucks back to the point. There was too much happening below the goal line.

Team Canada really learned its lessons from the American game in this one. Everything was generated from the blue line. Time after time after time they put the puck to the point and put people to the net and good things happened.

It was a very simple game plan: less passing, more shooting, more traffic and pucks to the net. That's how you beat Russian goalie Andrei Makarov.

Bob McKenzie

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