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World Juniors Day Four - The Fallout From Dirty Hits

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Day three at the World Juniors Tournament was mostly about the rough stuff.  For Edmonton Oilers fans, Anton Lander's wonderful, Jaromir Jagr-like (hey Brent Sutter) goal against the Russians was the play of the day. The Swedes got a masterful performance from Robin Lehner in goal and shut the Russian attack down and out for a 2-0 win.  Lehner stopped all thirty shots thrown at him and made a couple of world-class saves.  Adam Larsson displayed nearly every trick in his bag and showed the world why he was the consensus number one choice in the 2011 NHL draft just three months ago.  Sweden looks to be playing some of the best hockey in the tournament and if Gabriel Landeskog can shake off his ankle injury, the Swedes might give the Canadians a run for their money for gold.

The rest of the big news from the day involved dirty play.  After watching the Germans own the tournament in penalty minutes and misconducts, the Canadians and Slovaks took umbrage.  Canadian ruffian Zach Kassian decked a Czech with a shoulder to the dome, Edmonton prospect Martin Marincin threw one of the dirtiest hits I've ever seen in World Junior play when he ran Jason Zucker, and the Slovaks in general played a traditional game of "if you can't beat them, hurt them" with the Americans, taking fifty-eight penalty minutes to just four from the U.S.  The biggest surprise of the tournament may be the pesky Finns who took a point from the U.S. and looked every bit as good as the Americans and blew the doors off of the Swiss yesterday.

There are only two games on tap today, we will look at them after the jump.

Next Game

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Group A
Finland (1-0-1) vs. Germany (0-2-0)
3:30 p.m. | Television - Unavailable
Oilers Prospects:  Toni Rajala (C - FIN)
Key Matchup:  Teemu Pulkkinen (F-FIN) vs Konrad Abeltshauser (D-GER)

The Finns chug along, hoping for an American misstep so they can gain a bye into the semi-finals.  The Germans, have to be disappointed thus far.  They've lost two one-goal games to the Swiss and the Slovaks and with more discipline and a bit of luck could be 2-0.  The only way into the medal round now is a regulation win over the Finns and again over the Americans, so things don't look good for them.  They've played well enough, however, that they should avoid relegation.

If Finland plays like they have in their last two, they should control this game from start to finish.  They've played wonderful team defense thus far and have good forward speed from each line.  The Germans need to grab a lead at some point and see if they can use their collapsing style to hold onto a win.


Next Game

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Group B
Norway (0-2-0)  vs. Canada (2-0-0)
7:30 p.m. | Television - TSN, NHL Network
Oilers Prospects:  Olivier Roy (G-CAN), Curtis Hamilton (LW-CAN)
Key Matchup:  None

Another day, another blowout in store for the Canadians.  This one isn't going to be interesting, even on their best day the Norge just don't have enough talent to stay with the Canadians on their worst day.  The Canadians will be without Zach Kassian after Kassian's game misconduct for a shoulder to the head of Czech defenseman Petr Senkerik.  While I understand the need to support the home kids, TSN's blind support of Kassian and outright falsehoods about where Kassian's shoulder actually landed was laughable.  It took ten hours, but Bob McKenzie finally gave in and admitted it was a shoulder to the head.  Other Canadians, however, remained steadfast.  Kassian's two-game suspension seems light considering his reputation, but unlike the NHL, the IIHF considers the play only - not history or relationship to the person making the decision.