December 22 2015 11:03AM
When it comes to the World Junior Championship, it doesn’t take a lot to get most Canadians excited. It is a holiday tradition and something that is far more popular in this country than everywhere else combined. That’s thanks in large part to the marketing done by TSN to turn it into the high point of their annual ratings, but the other significant factor is that every year Canadians go into the tournament believing that they are the favorites to win the tournament. Whether true or not, Canadian hockey fans expect a gold medal and anything else feels like a failure.
That being said, Canada doesn’t win gold nearly as often as it feels. Since the amazing run of five straight that ended in 2009, Canada has won only four medals, with the only gold coming last year on home ice at the Air Canada Centre. The road to a repeat beings on Saturday against the United States, but it is not going to be very easy - this 2016 IIHF U20 tournament is one of the deepest in recent memory. Canada is likely not the favorite to win, and will have a tough road ahead to secure a medal of any color.
Luckily for Leafs fans, this year’s tournament goes well beyond the results for the home country - let's take an in-depth look at the future of Toronto Maple Leafs hockey, and the Leafs prospects that will be taking part in this tournament...
December 22 2015 03:26AM
A lot has been made of the Leafs' presence at the World Juniors this year. I can't blame the masses; the Leafs are sending five prospects, two of which amongst the world's best in William Nylander and Mitch Marner, another blue-chipper in Kasperi Kapanen, an underdog in Dmytro Timashov, and a steady secondary addition to team Canada in Travis Dermott. All five of these guys could end up being NHLers. But what if I told you that there was a year that Leafed at levels beyond comprehension?
Let me take you back to 2003. Specifically, we'll head to team Canada.
December 21 2015 10:51PM
Tyler Bozak may have been born in Regina, but his hockey birth came in Colorado. After a few years of decent to very good numbers in the BCHL, the centre made the jump to the University of Denver, where he went from undrafted player with an outside shot to one of the hottest-pursued college free agents of the modern era. The Leafs may have won the bidding war (sorry, Ottawa), but to this day, the 29-year-old still calls Denver a second home, even visiting from time to time.
This visit, however, was less than friendly, as Bozak picked up a Hat Trick as part of his team's push to a 7-4 victory.
December 21 2015 03:30PM
This intro paragraph is for sale.
No, but seriously, I've got nothing this week. I don't most other weeks earlier, but this is dire. Let's just jump straight into your questions!
Sorry. But seriously, read on.
December 21 2015 01:20PM
If you haven't watched the Colorado Avalanche since their awe-inspiring 2013-2014 season, not a whole lot has changed.
They still post subpar possession numbers. Semyon Varlamov is still pretty damn good at tending net. Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon are both still trending up, Matt Duchene is still underappreciated, and their defence is still one giant question mark.
The only thing that's changed? Their luck.
That, my friends, is the difference between a team being intentionally sub-par (a la the current Leafs) and unintentionally tanking their second consecutive season (a la the current Avalanche). Buckle up, ladies and gents - tonight is gonna be fun.