WJC Roundup, Day 1—Finns, Man

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/HHOF-IIHF Images)
(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/HHOF-IIHF Images)

Well, thank god for Will Butcher’s ass, is all I can say.

Butcher’s kiester was responsible for a game-saving block that let the USA take their game against a very defensively tough Finnish team to overtime. They would eventually win 2-1 off a sick shootout goal from Chase De Leo and some very nice saves from Thatcher Demko, who was an absolute wall after a weird own-goal from Auston Matthews.

The Canadians won too, running the score up on a much less defensively sound Slovakian team and ending up with a final score of 8-0. Yawn. Who didn’t see that rout coming?

But about that block.

Play of the Day: The aforementioned block. Will Butcher’s a guy I was really interested in seeing this year, as he’d been pretty good for the US last year, and he didn’t let down today. This wasn’t the only important block he made, and the rest of his game was pretty nice as well.

Five Impressions
1. The USA’s penalty kill is incredibly aggressive, and today it worked for them. One penalty kill in the second period was entirely controlled by the US. So many shorthanded chances that I honestly lost count—Fasching, Larkin, Eichel, Hayden, De Leo, etc. All the shooting on those penalty kills—their power play could stand to take a lesson. Hopefully it was just first-game nerves, but there was too much passing.
2. Max Domi (CAN) has some filthy, filthy hands. This goal to put it up 6-0 was absolutely ridiculous. Just, god.
3. Zach Fucale (CAN) looked okay today, but he only faced 12 shots. I want to see him against a more offensively gifted team.
4. Finland’s defense and goaltending is very very good. It reminds me a lot of how they won last year—once they get a lead, they pretty much turtle and protect it at all costs. Could be dangerous later in the tournament.
5. Connor McDavid (CAN) also known as McJesus, Connor McHockey, the next coming of Crosby+Gretzky, etc, went the entire game without a point, prompting a Canadian national crisis. Or something.

Three Players
1. Dylan Larkin (USA). Smooth skating, smoother skills. This kid can cut through the neutral zone like it’s nothing, and I think every single penalty kill featured him and Hudson Fasching (USA) streaking down to Finland’s end of the ice and putting a shot on net.
2. Max Domi (CAN). Holy god, but this kid can play. His goal was great, but the backchecking he did leading up to it was even better.
3. Robby Fabbri (CAN). Kid was all over the ice. Two goals, two assists, and he was constantly pushing offensively. And he’s just fun to watch play.

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