WJC Prospect Report Day 3: Räsänen M.I.A, Woll struggles against Slovakia

Day three of the World Juniors brought several not-so-great performances from our two active Leafs prospects in Buffalo.

Though Timothy Liljegren is not outwardly struggling, he does not necessarily seem to be settling into the Swedish blueline.  Joseph Woll allowed three soft goals against the Slovaks in the USA’s first loss of the tournament.  Oh, and Eemeli Räsänen went ghost.

In general, this year’s tournament does not appear to be as successful as likely anticipated by USA Hockey.  Attendance at every preliminary-round game has been subpar, and the WJC hype just isn’t as prevalent as I’ve seen it in the past.

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Changing to a more positive perspective, the tournament only began three days ago.  There is plenty of time for Liljegren and Woll to improve and for the city of Buffalo to rally around the World Juniors.  Also, it’s almost a given that the attendance and the atmosphere at tomorrow’s outdoor game will be something to get excited about.

With that, let’s get to it.


Timothy Liljegren (Sweden vs. Czech Republic)

Here are the highlights from Sweden’s victory against the Czechs:

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Liljegren’s ice time saw a two-minute drop from last game (16:25 TOI to 13:59 TOI), and this was somewhat expected given his average performance over the course of two games.  He has been good, but I have a hard time saying he has been impressive. Another reason for this change is Sweden’s increasing but validated reliance on Rasmus Dhalin, the 17-year old superstar defenceman.  Dahlin played 24 minutes today for the Swedes, taking on a much bigger role within the team than earlier anticipated.

Liljegren has taken two penalties in two games at the tournament which definitely is not helping his case.  He also got hooked in the groin today: 

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Liljegren still has an ample opportunity to prove himself at the tournament.  He has yet to create much offense, something that he is definitely capable of doing.  He is still seeing some powerplay time as well, and it is about time he starts making a more positive contribution to the scoresheet.

Joseph Woll (USA vs. Slovakia)

Here are the highlights from Slovakia’s notable victory over the USA:

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Joseph Woll definitely did not have a good game tonight.

Three bad goals, terrible defensive coverage and a heroic performance from Slovakia’s backup goaltender cost the Americans this game. Here’s a closer look at the Slovak’s second goal:

Woll was not in the best positioning for this shot and quickly realizes his mistake after as he turns around to check the net.  Here’s a look at Slovakia’s third goal, this time scored on a wrap-around attempt:

Woll didn’t look settled in the American goal crease tonight.  He was out of position, misplaying the puck and essentially flopping around everywhere.

Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see who takes to the net for the Americans tomorrow.  I would have to assume Oettinger will get the start tomorrow after Woll’s performance tonight, and tomorrow’s game may distinguish who earns the starting job for the team moving forward in the tournament.  

Woll’s hot and cold streaks are not ideal in a tournament of this nature and after his performance tonight, it’s clear that there is certainly more room for him to improve in his development.

Eemeli Räsänen (Finland vs. Denmark)

Here are the highlights from a Räsänen-less Finland victory:

There is still no word on Räsänen’s status at the tournament.  He is not on the official IIHF Finnish roster, so I think it is safe to assume that we will not be seeing him this year (barring an injury, of course).

Day 4 Preview

Negativity aside, tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities to impress.  Joseph Woll and the Americans will be back in action tomorrow in the first-ever WJC outdoor game.  I doubt that Woll will actually get the start, but nevertheless, the game will certainly be fun to watch.  The USA will be looking to bounce back after a crushing loss to Slovakia tonight, and Canada will be aiming to maintain their streak of dominance in the prelims.  The game will take place at New Era Field at 3 pm tomorrow.

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