Last night marked the opening of the 2014 Mastercard Memorial Cup, major-junior hockey championships and my favorite time of the year.
The London Knights, tournament hosts who didn’t come into this tournament the way they’d have preferred, faced off against the Val d’Or Foreurs and lost 1-0 on a goal from – who else? Anthony Mantha. Funny thing was, Mantha didn’t really win the game for the Foreurs. Their goalie stole it right out from under London, judging by the final shot count of 51-28.
(I’m really excited to track this game and see what the actual shot attempts were, though, given how many the Knights had go wide, including probably every single shot by Max Domi.)
Mem Cup Musings
- The Knights are rusty. Simple as. 35 days off between games turned out to be far too much for the tournament hosts, because despite controlling the play for the vast majority of the game they couldn’t get the puck past Antoine Bibeau. I understand rust, and I understand there are guys coming back from injury on top of that, but on 51 shots, you have to find a way.
- Antoine Bibeau is a beast. Shutouts are no small feat, but stopping 51 shots in what was, for most of play, a 1 goal game? To quote London coach Dale Hunter, “That’s a good pick by Toronto”.
- Max Domi. What in the world was going on? Domi played through a shoulder injury in the OHL playoffs, and the time off actually helped him to heal, but shooting-wise he did not have a very good night last night. I don’t think it’s the injury lingering, either. I think it’s confidence. I’d put him out with Bo Horvat, whose play could also use a kick in the behind, and see if they can rediscover that amazing chemistry from last season.
- Anthony Mantha is Good At Hockey. I can’t help but wonder if his goal-per-game ratio this season was helped by the fact that he’s an overager, and thus has had quite a bit more experience/time to grow as a player than a lot of his peers, but there’s no denying his talent. We’ll be seeing this kid in Detroit next year.
- Mitchell Marner is going to be a first-rounder in 2015, mark my words. He probably won’t break into that Top 2 battle between McDavid and Eichel, but if he keeps progressing as he has, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go in the first half of that first round. It’s been a privilege watching him develop this season, and I’m glad Hunter’s got him on the first PP unit for London. Kid generates scoring chances everywhere he goes.