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World junior championship: Team Canada coffee talk: Dumba dinged, but Canada outlasts Swiss

Dumba (top) briefly left the quarter-final after injuring his right leg (Frank Gunn, CP)

Well, that was a nice 48 hours where Team Canada ran with seven healthy defencemen.

The biggest question emanating out of Thursday's 4-1 quarter-final win over Switzerland, apart from getting by a team that tries to lull hockey powers to sleep, is the health of Mathew Dumba. The 19-year-old defenceman came back to complete the game after going to the dressing room following a heavy check from Swiss wing Vincent Praplan that left Dumba favouring his right leg.

Dumba had just got back into the fray when No. 6 defenceman Josh Morrissey took a heavy check early in the third. Morrissey pushed through. The sum of it is Team Canada, which will have a needed off-day before it face Finland in Saturday's semifinal, found a way even though its defence corps has been compromised by suspensions or Dumba, among others, playing through illness and injury.

Strength isn't always derived from numbers, eh.

Canada will face Finland in the semifinal on Saturday (TSN/RDS/BTN livechat, 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT). Sweden and Russia meet in the first semifinal (TSN/RDS, 9 a.m. ET/6 a.m. PT). As always, there is much discussion fodder. Talk amongst yourselves:

— The tweak to the medal round, with the off-day coming between the quarters and semis since there are no more byes, could work in Canada's favour. Neither of the top two pairings, Aaron Ekblad-Derrick Pouliot and Dumba-Griffin Reinhart, have been overextended in the past two games.

That is a small part of how events have shook out in Canada's favour since around the second period of the New Year's Eve win over Team USA. Ending up on the same half of the playoff bracket as the Czech Republic, Finland and Switzerland was conspicuously fortuitous.

— Canada will be a favourite on Saturday against Finland. The Finns' Teuvo Teravainen-Saku Maenalanen combo has been dangerous throughout the tourney.

— Canada's defence corps had contributed only one goal through the first four games. It bagged two, with Griffin Reinhart pinching in to score the icebreaker late in the first and Pouliot wiring in a wrister off the rush with 6:10 play to seal the game.

It wasn't surprising to see the two defenceman who have gone head-to-head in successive Edmonton Oil Kings-Portland Winterhawks WHL finals get on the board. Reinhart, while profiling as a shutdown defender, has long had an acumen for knowing when it's possible to move up and convert. Pouliot, of course, is a terrific offensive defenceman who has 30 points in 28 games for Portland.

— Reinhart was an easy choice as Canada's best player of the match after being plus-2 with a goal.

— Fun fact: all three of Ottawa Senators prospect Curtis Lazar's goals in the tournament have been third-period tallies.

— Being as tall as Anthony Mantha means being able to do the Forsberg move with two hands on the stick. The tourney's scoring leader (11 points) converted a penalty shot in the second period, pulling the puck to his backhand and tucking the puck between Melvin Nyffeler's left pad and the post. Consider that another item for Mantha's tournament MVP résumé.

The Jonathan Drouin-Charles Hudon-Mantha line was productive, but otherwise didn't score.

— Following the shootout loss to the Czech Republic, Sportsnet's Patrick King wrote a column highlighting Canada's reluctance to drive pucks to the net. That trait reemerged Thursday, particularly on the Reinhart goal when Scott Laughton flipped the puck over a defender's stick and muscled by him to recover it and fire a shot at Nyffeler's feet.

— Canada also beat the Swiss 4-1 in a quarter-final at the 2011 world junior at Buffalo. You could probably switch the game tapes with the crowd noise and commentary stripped out and no one would know the difference.

— Of note, Toronto Maple Leafs fifth-rounder Fabrice Herzog was recognized as one of Swizaterland's top three players in the tournament. At least Herzog's QMJHL team, the Quebec Remparts, could have two of their three WJC players back very soon since Adam Erne and Team USA are also finito.

It wouldn't do to omit that detail.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

Team Canada goaltenders Zachary Fucale celebrates after defeating Switzerland in quarterfinal action at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in Malmo, Sweden on Thursday January 2, 2014. THE ... more 
Team Canada goaltenders Zachary Fucale celebrates after defeating Switzerland in quarterfinal action at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in Malmo, Sweden on Thursday January 2, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Frank Gunn less 
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The Canadian Press
Thu, 2 Jan, 2014 2:00 PM EST

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