The first games of the World Junior Championships were played today in Malmo, Sweden. It saw several blowouts by the big teams and one much closer game.
First up, bright and early, was the match between Canada and Germany.
It started off worryingly for the Canadians as they went down by a goal early in the game from a shot at the point off the faceoff. The Canadians tightened up mentally and put themselves ahead by the end of the first, 4-2. Canada had two goals from Detroit Redwings prospect Anthony Mantha, and a goal a piece from Josh Anderson and Bo Horvat.
Anthony Mantha would finish off his hat trick in the second period and 2014 NHL Draft Prospect Sam Reinhart would also score. 2015 top prospect, Connor McDavid, got his first point with an assist on Reinhart's goal.
Nic Petan would finish up the game with Canada's seventh goal during the third period.
2014 NHL Draft Prospect Leon Draisaitl performed reasonable well but he was only one talented player on a German team that was only playing in the WJC two years in a row for the first time.
Connor McDavid was also highly impressive for Canada and it was obvious why he is considered a top prospect for 2015.
Final Score: 7-2 Canada.
The second game of the day was between Russia and Norway. I wasn't able to catch any of this game but it was a total rout. Routs aren't unusual in the WJC, especially against those teams that are promoted up into the top group.
The Russians would score five goals in each of the first two periods. They would top off the third period by scoring a lone goal.
Anton Slepyshev, Vadim Khlopotov and Nikita Zadorov would all score two goals. Damir Zhafyarov would have three points overall.
Final Score: 11-0
The USA came out strong scoring two goals in the early minutes of the first period to put themselves ahead 2-0 by the end of the first. Both goals came on an impressive power play which the Czechs were unable to counter.
Dallas Stars prospect Radek Faksa was unable to help get the Czechs off the backfoot in the first. Any incursions into the American zone were were repelled and they put very little pressure on Jon Gillies in net.
Despite a few minutes of extensive pressure by the Czechs during the first ten minutes of the second period it was the USA who got the goal to give them a 3-0 lead shortly after a penalty had expired. The second period would finish with the Americans up 4-0 and dominating. The only reason the score wasn't higher was become of some speculator saves from the Czech goaltender.
The final period finally saw the Czechs putting themselves on the board with a goal from Michal Pultnar. The United States would answer, however, to restore their four goal lead. While it wasn't by as large a margin as Canada and Russia the USA had a steady beginning to their campaign to try to win their second consecutive WJC title.
Final Score: 5-1
The hosts Sweden faced off against the Swiss in the last game of the day. Considering the multitude of people saying that Sweden was easily the best team in the tournament they faced an unexpectedly tough opponent in Switzerland.
They finished the first period with a 3-2 lead after letting the Swiss score first. Nashville Predators prospect, Filip Forsberg, finished the first period with two points, a goal and an assist.
There would be no goals scored in the second period but Sweden suffered a blow after Sebastian Collberg left the game, apparently due to illness. They had only dressed 12 forwards for the game and they would have to double shift for the third period.
Things got interesting briefly when the Swiss tied up the game just over a minute into the third period. Fortunately for the hosts Christian Djoos was able to give them the lead back on a power play goal just over a minute after the Swiss goal. With just under three minutes left in the third the Swedes put it beyond doubt with a goal from Andreas Johnson.
It was closer than it should have been but the hosts managed to get the win in the end.
Final Score: 5-3