EDMONTON — The numbers are in Brad Gushue's favour at the Ford World Men's Curling Championship.
He posted impressive wins over Jaap Van Dorp of the Netherlands and Japan's Yusuke Morozumi on Wednesday to extend his unbeaten streak to nine games. Gushue has outscored his opponents 77-29 overall and games have been called early on seven occasions.
Each early finish will help Gushue and his team stay fresh for the playoffs. The St. John's skip, who has secured a berth in the Page playoff 1-2 game, is still bothered by a hip/groin injury so any saved throws are welcomed.
"It's a huge positive," Gushue said. "The less I can be on it the better, to be honest. At this point I don't need more reps or more volume. I feel comfortable with the ice and I feel comfortable with how I'm throwing it.
"So if I can keep the fatigue down and be ready come the weekend, I think that's a positive."
Gushue's 8-3 victory in the morning was followed by a 10-2 rout in the afternoon.
Sweden's Niklas Edin improved to 8-1 with a 10-4 victory over Switzerland's Peter de Cruz (7-2) in the evening draw and has qualified for the playoffs. Edin is alone in second while de Cruz sits third.
John Shuster (6-3) of the United States has sole possession of fourth place after beating China's Rui Liu 8-2 in evening play.
Japan's Morozumi (5-4) is in fifth place. China's Liu, Italy's Joel Retornaz, Scotland's David Murdoch and Norway's Steffen Walstad are in a four-way tie for sixth place at 4-5.
The top four teams will make the playoffs.
In the early game, Gushue opened with a three-point first end. Van Dorp was held to a single in the fourth and Gushue tacked on a deuce in the fifth end.
The Dutch side scored two points in the seventh but Gushue replied with a pair to wrap things up in eight ends.
Against Japan, Gushue's five-point fourth end put the game out of reach. He iced it with a deuce in the seventh.
At least six ends must be played per game at this competition. Teams can decide to shake hands early if the game has turned into a rout.
Gushue has posted two six-end wins and three seven-end victories so far.
By only going the regular 10-end length on two occasions in round-robin play, he has saved 21 ends overall — the equivalent of more than two games.
That's important for a team still feeling the effects of a long, tough grind at the Tim Hortons Brier.
"When we came in we weren't fully recovered," Gushue said. "So to have a few lighter games, it has certainly been a benefit."
The 1-2 game between the top two seeds is set for Friday night. The winner will advance to Sunday's gold-medal game.
The Page 3-4 game between the third and fourth seeds will be played Saturday afternoon. The winner advances to the evening semifinal and the loser will play for bronze Sunday against the semifinal loser.
Kevin Koe skipped Canada to a gold medal at last year's world championship in Basel, Switzerland. Gushue beat Koe in the Brier final last month in St. John's.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press