Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Prediction: Canada's WJC Team

Photo by Richard Wolowicz, Getty Images

The Team Canada World Junior Selection Camp is a few days along now, with cuts expected Tuesday. I figured I’d take a crack at predicting the lineup before the cuts begin, so here’s one man’s opinion based on the things floating around in my brain. Expect it to be completely correct.

J. Schwartz – B. Schenn – B. Connolly
B. Pirri – S. Couturier – L. Leblanc
C. Eakin – R. Johansen – Z. Kassian
Q. Howden – C. Cizikas – C. Ashton
B. Ross

J. Cowen – R. Ellis
C. de Haan – E. Gudbranson
S. Despres – D. Olsen
R. Murphy

O. Roy
C. Pickard

Basically with this lineup you’ve got a good forward mix of guys with size and skill. The top two lines would be leaned on to score, with the third line made up of big boys who can shake things up physically and chip in offensively. The fourth line would be an energy group, and Ross as the 13th forward can provide a spark in an agitator role. Also, he’s a Leaf which fills the bias quota in the lineup.

Selection camp is heavy with puck movers and offensive-minded guys on the blueline. Despite possessing the skating ability of a dumptruck, Jared Cowen seems to be a lock for a spot, so he gets slotted with Ellis who can bail him out when he forgets that legs are allowed to move. Cowen, Gudbranson and Olsen are all considered of the shutdown-type, so I paired each off with a more offensive-minded partner for my purposes. I originally had Tyson Barrie penciled in as the seventh defenseman, but I think it’s better to get Murphy that experience since Barrie is hardly a big step ahead, if he is at all.

In goal it’s my man-crush Olivier Roy with the starting job, backed up by a guy in Pickard who is used to seeing more rubber than Sasha Grey doing her thing in a tire factory.

All in all, as has been preached for weeks now, this team is not going to come by anything easily. They aren’t stacked with talent like they’ve been used to in some of the previous years and will rely on a balanced attack, strong defensive play, and probably some big performances from their goaltending. However, this team is not completely devoid of scoring ability. Brayden Schenn is the centerpiece, but this could really be a coming out party for Louis Leblanc. Jaden Schwartz and Brett Connolly will also be instrumental in creating offense. This team might compare best to the 2006 squad that won gold in Vancouver with a hard-hitting and hard-working attitude. Ultimately, the biggest factor could be the system that Dave Cameron employs. There’s enough talent here to win gold, but they’ll need to buy in to get past the American juggernaut.

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