What’s going right for Team USA at the 2021 World Junior Championship is their goaltending tandem is still a strength. Talking about a bad game by Spencer Knight doesn’t diminish what he’s done in college hockey for BC or previously when donning the Red, White, and Blue. Should he still be the starter?
Dustin Wolf has been good for a while now. He was the backup for Flyers goaltender Carter Hart in his first year for the Everett Silvertips. His teammates Wyatte Wylie and Hart talked about him at Flyers camp. He was held in high regard in Everett and for Team USA. He’s expected to do well, or he wouldn’t be there.
Trevor Zegras is going right. He has everything going for him, and his nine points in five games last year seem in jeopardy as his career-high in the tournament. After two games, he has three goals and five points. I said they would need more goal scoring outside of Cole Caufield and Arthur Kaliyev, and the Anaheim Ducks prospect has delivered. Seven points leads the tournament, and that’s certainly in reach for the talented forward.
Canada’s goaltending has been terrific. Devon Levi has been a breath of fresh air. He plays his college hockey for Northeastern, and that’s certainly a different look for the potential #1 for Team Canada, who is the favorite to win this tournament. Many thought goaltending could be the one area where they might have an issue, and so far, that hasn’t been the case. Levi has made the right saves at the right time. He’s currently in the top 10 for save percentage with a .926 mark.
Dylan Cozens has been the best player on the team since Kirby Dach left the tournament with a bad wrist injury. Cozens scored six points against a depleted German team. What’s not being talked about is the fact that he’s leading the tournament in face-off percentage. At 75%, you can’t do much better than that going up against the best in your age group, and this will be a key attribute that will continue to propel his team.
What’s going wrong for Team USA is their center play. While John Farinacci has been doing a good job (65%), Alex Turcotte has come up small with a 51% face-off percentage and worse than that against Russia. He has to do better because it doesn’t seem like Zegras is moving off left wing at any time soon.
Spencer Knight didn’t look good. Will that continue? You don’t know if you don’t play him, and he should get the next start against the Czech Republic. You can always pull him early.
What’s going wrong for Team Canada is their lack of top-notch competition. The game against the Slovaks was scary for them. It was way closer than anybody could have imagined. Did the Slovaks with their shot-blocking and relentless defense provide a blueprint for other teams going forward? Canada only registered 22 shots on goal. Canada was lucky that the Slovaks were 1-3 on the power play.
Both teams are still in the thick of it. The U.S. is in a hard pool, but anything can happen in this tournament, as we all know.