Malcolm Subban, a human lightning rod for three weeks, was rather grounded in Team Canada's biggest win yet at the world junior championship. Not coincidentally, it came while the goalmouth around Canada's net was the only place in Ufa, Russia that was clear of traffic during their 2-1 win over Team USA.
Being goalie for Team Canada means being the nerve centre for an entire nation. Twenty-four hours ago, Subban was seen by many as not up to the job. Part of that was the ghosts of goaltending letdowns past, but more of it owed to his lack of a signature performance since the beginning of Canada's selection camp. It was easy to make a case the job had given rather than earned, to turn around a T-shirt slogan used by his Belleville Bulls.
It is safe to say the combo of the above two elements — better D and a dialled-in goalie — changed a lot of impressions. Those should a sleep-deprived nation rest easy ahead of Monday's momentous matchup with Team Russia (9 a.m. ET/6 a.m. PT, TSN/RDS, BTN livechat), which will decide the Group B bye to the semifinal. Confidence is contagious.
Asked Canadians when they could tell Subban was locked in; Camara: 'Breakfast', MacKinnon: 'Bus ride', McNeill: 'Warm-ups'
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) December 30, 2012
More to the point, there was what Subban, who stopped 36-of-37 shots, did when the former momentarily deserted him. With 8:58 left, Team USA's Jacob Trouba, denied three times earlier in the day, broke the shutout bid with a pinball goal right after John Gibson denied Ty Rattie on a short-handed 2-on-1 rush. The puck deflected by Canada's Xavier Ouellet, eluded the other defenceman Griffin Reinhart and trickled past Subban. The U.S., which had not generated much offensively, suddenly smelled blood.
Almost immediately, Seth Jones led a Team USA rush. There was the Boston Bruins goalie of the future again, doing a split save with those Inspector Gadget legs to deny Ryan Hartman's rebound shot and preserve the lead.Read More »from World junior championship: Malcolm Subban bests John Gibson in goaltending duel, Canada should sleep more easily