Dominic Tiano: 2017 World Juniors Canada vs USA- A Divided Loyalty

Was it little friendly banter from the three gents that bring you the 3 Amigos Podcast? Or was it all out war?

It began yesterday after we recorded a podcast with Bruins prospect Zane McIntyre when Kirk Luedeke (an American and founder of TSP) ended a chat among the three of us with the famous U-S-A, U-S-A chant. Reed Duthie and myself, both Canadians, didn’t have a response as we Canadians don’t have such a chant.

But pre-game, the razzing took to twitter when I tweeted this:

@rcduthie and I apologies to @kluedeke29 but I have to do this: CAN-A-DA, CAN-A-DA, CAN-A-DA.

Kirk confidently responded with:

@dominictiano @rcduthie Get your shots in while you can. I just hope you guys aren’t left wondering where the offence went tonight… 😉

I fired a shot across the American bow with an obvious shot at the debate around who was left off rosters:

Well, I know where USA’s offence went. It’s in the #OHL in Alex DeBrincat and Logan Brown 😉

But it was the level-headed Reed that responded, and reflected the passion and loyalty the three of us have for not only country, but to the Boston Bruins and their players.

@kluedeke29 @dominictiano But if we are left with that question it likely means McAvoy & Lindgren were excellent. #DividedLoyalty

Sure, the three of us would like bragging rights, that’s human nature. But in the end, when we do what we do, it comes down to how did Charlie McAvoy and Ryan Lindgren (USA) and Jeremy Lauzon (Canada) perform on what to date is, the biggest hockey stage of their young careers and their respective team’s toughest battle.

We forecasted McAvoy to play a key role for the Americans, earning top minutes and assigned to shut down the Canadians top players. We also expected Lindgren to get some shut down time and to provide a physical domination from the back end for the Americans. And, we hoped to see Lauzon pursuing more time on ice as Canada’s response to Lindgren on America’s back end.

So how did it play out? Here’s my take on the three Bruins prospects and what they did in the 3-1 contest that clinched Group B for USA in the pool play,.

Ryan Lindgren

He was named player of the game for the Americans, and from where I am sitting, well deserving of the honor as selected by the Team USA brass. Lindgren finished the game with 18:28 time on ice – third amongst American defencemen behind McAvoy and (Oilers prospect/younger brother of Columbus D-man Seth) Caleb Jones – with some difficult penalty killing minutes, especially down by two men twice.

Lindgren made some big shot blocks throughout the game, especially in the first period after taking a 2-0 lead and the Canadians were desperately trying to get back into the game. He was the best defenceman on either side in front of his own goal. Time after time, he was in position to see the play happening in front of him while taken away the option to use the Canadian in front. And he made sure goaltender Joseph Woll could see the puck. He was adept at forcing and keeping the Canadians to the outside and using his strength and physicality to take them out along the boards.

I understand that fans want to see offense and rightfully so, but you can’t dismiss Lindgren’s performance. Having watched every minute of the tournament so far, in my eyes it was the best defensive performance from a defender to date. It would seem that the American brass that selected him the top player for the USA happen to agree.

Charlie McAvoy

Once again you could see that the Long Island, NY product has a full toolbox. He finished the game with 22:01 time on ice, second only to Jones. It started early for McAvoy, less then two minutes in when he was part of a big USA penalty kill. The Canadians would take a penalty of their own the Americans would capitalize on.
But it was less than two minutes later that McAvoy started the big play on what would prove to be the game winner. Killing yet another penalty, the Canadians sent the puck into the American zone. McAvoy, with his head up, quickly noticed the Canadians going for a line change and fired a hard, accurate pass to the other side at the Canadian blue line to Clayton Keller who in turn set up Jordan Greenway.

McAvoy had a couple of rough moments. Already down a man in the first, Woll had lost his goalie stick. McAvoy had tapped the stick back to Woll, and under IIHF rules, you can pick up and hand the stick back, but you can’t use your stick to direct it back. McAvoy’s reaction was as if he didn’t know the rule. We don’t know if that’s the team for not informing the players, or McAvoy forgetting, but in a tournament like this, you should know. It didn’t cost them this time, but in the second, and already down a man, McAvoy took a tripping call, the Canadians capitalized and were back in the game.

McAvoy played top minutes against Canada’s big guns. His ability to keep Canada at bay was evident, while he played an excellent transition game.

Jeremy Lauzon

The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL) captain finished with 10:24 time on ice, about the same he had in the previous 2 games, but I expected more, especially after fellow Husky (and Flyers free agent gem) Philippe Myers left the game with an injury. It appears Myers is finished for the tournament in what could be a concussion and that will mean Canada will have 6 defencemen and will mean more ice time for Lauzon.

In the limited ice time, you can see Lauzon does a lot of things well but doesn’t really excel at any one thing. He plays a solid physical game and is always well positioned defensively. His stick is almost always in perfect position and you could see it clearly on the penalty kill when he was covering the man in front, he always had his stick in position as well to take away the cross-crease pass.

There wasn’t much opportunity to show his offensive ability, but there was a time or two that you noticed his willingness to jump into the play. At the opposition blue line, he made the right choices, knowing when to stand his ground and keep the puck in the US zone, or when to back out and protect against an odd man rush.

Kudos to the Americans. They deserved the win. And for now, Kirk will have bragging rights. Reed and I can only hope there is one more meeting in the cards.

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