Although the World Juniors don’t officially begin until next week, all three
Montreal prospects were in action on Thursday in the first of two exhibition
games. Although they did little damage on the scoresheet, they all made
their presence felt. Here is a quick look at each of the games and how
each future Hab played.
Finland 3, Canada 2
This game lacked much in the way of flow and both teams looked sluggish which
isn’t all that surprising when you think about it. Special teams were a
huge part in this one as there weren’t too many penalty-free stretches.
The difference came down to Finland being able to capitalize on their 5-on-3
advantages (scoring twice) while Canada couldn’t get much going with their
opportunities. Markus Granlund, Ville Jarvelainen, and Miro Aaltonen
scored for the Finns while Griffin Reinhart and Mark Scheifele replied for the
#10 – Charles Hudon: Hudon’s game was one I think we’ll see a lot of
from him in the tournament – solid but not too flashy. He had an assist on
Reinhart’s goal and would have had a highlight reel marker on the penalty kill
had it not been for a Finnish defender sliding into the goal knocking the net
off its moorings. (For what it’s worth, a delay of game penalty was called
on the play.) He spent most of the game playing on the third line with
Boone Jenner and J.C. Lipon and often was on the first wave of the penalty kill
(either with Jenner or Philip Danault). Late in the game, he swapped
places with Ty Rattie, earning himself a couple of shifts on Canada’s top line
with Scheifele and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. One small concern was his puck
preservation – he had no qualms about going to the boards (either with the puck
or to secure it) but he didn’t have possession coming away all that often.
That’s the only minor blemish on a quality effort.
Game Grade: A-
Stats: 1 assist, 1 shot, even rating, 15:17 TOI
USA 3, Sweden 2 (OT)
The second scrimmage got off to a much more entertaining start before slowing
to a pace reminiscent of the Canada-Finland affair, largely due to frequent
trips to the penalty box. The two teams are distinctively different, the
Americans are a more physical squad while the Swedes have no shortage of skill
up front. Shayne Gostisbehere had the OT winner for Team USA while Connor
Murphy and Ryan Hartman also scored. Emil Molin and Rickard Rakell tallied
for Team Sweden.
#15 – Sebastian Collberg (Sweden): Like Hudon, Collberg spent a lot of
time on what could be called the third line with Max Froberg and Molin.
With a good chunk of the game being spent on the powerplay, he picked up quite a
few extra shifts and had several quality scoring chances. He was very
adept at handling the puck, however, he did turn it over a few times as well.
I was also concerned with his defensive effort – he often was the last Swede to
enter their zone and was almost always the first one out. All in all, he
had a great start but tailed off as the game went on.
Game Grade: B-
Stats: 0 points, 5 shots, even rating, 17:31 TOI
#15 – Alex Galchenyuk (USA): The Americans sat what is likely to be
their top line for this one meaning Galchenyuk was their top forward dressed.
However, he wasn’t given the best of linemates in Sean Kuraly and Mario Lucia,
players who some believe are battling to avoid being the final cut. It
didn’t take long to notice that he was in a class of his own on his line; he
certainly noticed that too as he was at times too predisposed towards shooting
instead of looking for his linemates. Regardless, he really stood out in
this game regardless of the fact that he didn’t collect any points and generated
a lot of chances. Even when he didn’t have the puck, you could tell he was
out there. One thing that caught my eye was his size – he looked
considerably bigger than a lot of his teammates which is something I didn’t
expect to see.
Game Grade: B+
Stats: 0 points, 7 shots, even rating, 2 PIMS, 16:44 TOI
The exhibition scrimmages end on Saturday as Finland takes on Team USA (6 AM
EST) while Sweden is against Canada (9 AM EST).