Going into tonight's game against the American's there were a few things that Canada HAD to do...
1) Effective PP
2) Little to no individual free wheeling plays
3) Solid goaltending
Let's recap shall we...
1) Canada was 1 for 3 tonight...which isn't really that bad..however against a team where special teams WILL make a difference, they needed. Of course the 1 pp goal they got was a timely one from Eberle nearing the end of the game to bring them within a goal...and just moments later Captain Clutch came through AGAIN and tied it up.
2) For the beginning of the game Canada played very well as a team defensively and offensively, avoiding the free-wheeling style that didn't work New Years Eve. However once they were down 5-3 they seemed to lose focus and tried to do too much. At one point there was a sequence were all 3 forwards tried to step around players and drive the net...all 3 failed...those three were Hall, Kadri, and Eberle.
3) Possibly what did in the Canadians in the end. Jake Allen did NOT have a very good game to say the least. There were a few goals he should have had no questions asked. The first 2 goals were essentially the same, 2 guys coming down at him and both time Allen looked as though he expected the pass...and both time the guy with the puck put it passed him high glove side. His focus seemed to be elsewhere majority of the game. The screened shot was clearly not his fault. There was the bobbled dump in that he should have a) caught and b) contained...he could do neither and in turn gave up the puck and couldn't stop the breakaway. After he was pulled Canada got some very solid goaltending. The only goal then came in OT on a laser of a wristshot that was almost unstoppable courtesy of John Carlson.
Something I noticed while watching Carlson's shot that I don't think any of the analysts touched on was that when Carlson took his shot, he wasn't even looking at the net. As he came down the wing and crossed the blue line he was looking across ice literally the entire time as if indicating a pass...and at that point ANY goalie would have anticipated a pass, however he let a perfect wrister go...WHILE STILL LOOKING ACROSS THE ICE. Even as he released the shot he wasn't looking on net, that goal can not be faulted on anyone, especially Martin Jones.
This was by far one of the most entertaining games I've ever watched...at any level of competition. It was very back and forth and both teams were playing with heart, determination, and a lot of grit. Canada started out being pretty dominant in the physical play, but there was the questionable call on Della-Rovere for charging which looked like a clean hit. The checking from behind call on Pietrangelo was a good call and clearly a 2min penalty...the 10min misconduct is debatable, however probably the correct call. The loss of Pietrangelo for that length of time was probably one of the downfalls to the Canadians in this game.
Of course a bright spot in the game was Jordan Eberle, not only did he break John Tavares' record for goals in at the World Junior tournament by a Canadian scoring his 13th and 14th, he was also solely responsible for bringing life back into the team with under 3 minutes to go in regulation down 5-3 and scoring twice. To me he will forever be called Captain Clutch. It amazes me that after the year he had last year he wasn't named captain of the team...he showed throughout the tournament that he was a leader on the ice for sure. I do feel bad for him though, he didn't get to celebrate the record and after the game he looked as though he just wanted to get away from the rink...and who can blame him. Hopefully tomorrow he can reflect and enjoy it, along with getting a silver, and being named Forward of the tournament and Tournament MVP.
With the tournament now in the books the attention will likely turn to who will be the #1 pick in this years draft. After the performance put on by Taylor Hall at the World Juniors this year it's hard to say it won't be him.
Taking a quick look ahead to next year's tournament in Buffalo...the USA will have a tough time containing the rest of the World Juniors. And the question becomes "can the Americans defend the title on home soil with all the pressure?"
All in all it was a fantastic game tonight and I do want to send a huge congratulation out to the American team who fought back and didn't get down on themselves like most teams would after a storm back attack from Canada. Congratulation USA on a great tournament and another classic match.