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McKenzie: Forwards falter as USA struggles at WJHC

Bob McKenzie

12/30/2011 10:26:10 PM

This year's World Junior Hockey Tournament has turned out to be nothing short of a disaster for USA Hockey.
 
Ultimately, most of the responsibility for the U.S. performance will fall on their top six forwards and their failure to generate offence.

While you could look at shots on goal - they outshot Finland by 20 in their 4-1 loss, and the Czech Republic by 52 on Friday and lost the game 5-2 -  plus the chances they had, and say that the Americans were taken advantage of by hot goaltenders.  The fact of the matter is that the  guys they counted on to generate significant offence did not get the job done.

Charlie Coyle got a hat-trick in the first game against Denmark, and was never really heard from again.  He was sick and hardly played against the Czech Republic until the final two minutes and he couldn't get it going.

Emerson Etem, who is a 30-goal scorer in the Western Hockey League was basically invisible.  Brandon Saad, who almost made the Chicago Blackhawks  coming out of training camp, really didn't register anything at all.

The second line of Nick Bjugstad, Kyle Rau and the captain Jason Zucker, who is playing in his third World Junior tournament for the most part also couldn't get it going on a consistent basis.  The foot soldiers did a better job for the Americans.

In the end the U.S. had too much perimeter play, they didn't get enough traffic in front of the net and they also had too many turnovers, which killed them when they were trying to comeback against a very good counter-punching team in the Czech Republic.