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  1. The World Cup of Hockey: Much More than a Money Grab

    0 Comments by Pheebs888 Published on 09-10-2016 03:53 PM
    The puck hasn’t even dropped for the first match of the tournament and we’ve already heard it all from the cynics: this is a meaningless competition, it’s only a cash grab courtesy of Betman or the players don’t care and won’t be invested. As I write these lines, we’ve seen 6 exhibition games and it’s fair to say that they have been proved wrong. I was in attendance at the match featuring Team North America and Team Europe at the Centre Videotron in Québec and nothing could be further from the truth than to say that the players do not care.

    There were some doubts as to whether or not the Centre Videotron would be filled to capacity to witness what some dubbed a meaningless exhibition game between two made up teams after the NHL had once again ignored Quebec in its expansion process but come game night, the tickets were indeed all sold. A good part of the crowd was even there rather early and enjoying the pre-game warm up. When the announcers introduced the players though, there was not an empty seat in sight and the Quebec fans made their feelings known about every single player. McDavid got a great cheer, Sean Couturier (who speaks French) received a welcome as warm as if the game was played in Philly, while Nathan MacKinnon who the crowd hated when he made the Remparts suffered was welcomed like a king. The highlight of the players’ introduction though has got to be the strong boos that were in store for Team Europe’s Zdeno Chara. While there were of course numerous Nordiques fans at the Centre Videotron, there were also many Montreal Canadiens’ fans and it’s safe to say that they have not forgotten nor forgiven the incident that involved the Bruins’ captain and Max Pacioretty. That reception was just a preview of what was in store for him for the rest of the game because just like in Montreal, he was booed every single time he touched the puck.


    After the player’s introduction, there was a ceremonial face-off done by no other than Patrick Roy. While he has just left the Colorado Avalanche, he had spent the 10 years prior to his Colorado gig at the helm of the Remparts and received a standing ovation from all fans. His exploits with the Habs are still fresh in the Canadiens’ fans memory and his tenure with Quebec’s junior team ensured that the 18 000 thousand people in attendance loved him. With the formalities out of the way, it was time for the game to get underway.


    Straight from the get go, the young guns came out with a knife between their teeth, they skated around the veterans from Team Europe as if they were alone on the ice. Jaroslav Halak had to work small miracles to keep his team in contention, robbing Johnny Gaudreau and Nathan MacKinnon on numerous occasion. The Flames’ young forward was one of the most impressive players on the ice, he was literally everywhere and was flying rather than skating. In fact, he kind of looked like an annoying mosquito that Chara kept trying to swat with no success whatsoever. Thanks to Halak’s work between the posts however, Team Europe manage to end the period on a 0-0 score.

    It was just a matter of time though as Team America’s first goal came a little under 4 minutes into the second thanks to great passing on the power play by Gaudreau and Ekblad on which MacKinnon was able to capitalize. Not even 3 minutes later, Team Europe’s defense was under pressure once more and Zdeno Chara, trying to clear the front of his net, unwillingly set up Ryan Nugent-Hopkins right in front the crease. The Oilers’ forward was not going to miss such a chance and he buried it. A couple of minutes later, Gaudreau was rewarded with his own goal on assists from Saad and Eichel. Needless to say, it was a rather intense 6 minutes or so and many of Team Europe’s skaters looked somewhat frazzled and out of breath. It should be mentioned that Marian Hossa left the game during that second frame to get some X-rays done. Thankfully, it was nothing serious and he is expected to be ready for tomorrow’s rematch. The period ended with a 3-0 lead for Team North America.

    In the final period, the highlight was without a doubt the penalty shot scored by MacKinnon and his insane hands. It’s fair to say that Halak did not stand a chance on that shot. The Avs forward slowly moved in and made Gordon Bombay’s triple deke move like a joke (well it kind of was anyways but you know what I mean). In the end, the young team won 4-0 and the shutout was credited to Matt Murray who was solid without having to be spectacular with 23 saves. It really does look like the Penguins’ net minder was not just a one cup run wonder, his positioning was great and he was calm and collected out there. At the other end, Halak did what he could but the speed of the youngsters often meant he was left to his own devices and he surrendered 4 goals on 21 shots. When all was said and done, both teams shook hands at centre ice to the crowd’s delight.

    Overall, that match could be described as a speed and skill clinic by Team North America and was nowhere near as physical as usual NHL hockey. After all, you can’t hit what you cannot catch. That’s not to say that will be the case for the whole tournament though….If you were lucky enough to catch last night’s Canada vs USA match, it was a whole other story; a truckload of hits, a game misconduct for Ryan Kessler and a lot of bad blood. Team USA’s coach John Tortorella was clear that he wanted his team to inflict and not be inflicted upon in this tournament and it looks like his players have got the message.

    If you’ve not been watching the exhibition phase so far, I strongly advise that you do from now on or that at the very least you make sure to catch the proper tournament starting September 17. It’s clear that the players are invested in this tournament, be it the pride to represent their country in some cases or the fact that they have something to prove and are eager to impress in others. Oh, and if you are a hockey collector, make sure you enter our World Cup of Hockey contest courtesy of Frameworth right here: https://www.sportscardforum.com/threa...0#post14265600
    Last edited by Pheebs888; 09-10-2016 at 04:08 PM.

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