Say what you will about Canada’s showmanship, they showed no signs of complacency in a 11-2 rout of Germany on Wednesday evening. Connor Bedard scored three goals and a record-tying seven points, while Dylan Guenther scored a hat trick of his own for the Canadians.
Without further ado, here are three takeaways from the comprehensive thrashing.
Connor Bedard is the best player in the tournament and it’s not even close
Connor Bedard was separated from Brennan Othmann and Shane Wright to start the game, beginning the contest on a line with Joshua Roy and Logan Stankoven. He was reunited with Othmann and Wright on the power play and he submitted one of the best-ever single-game performances at the World Juniors, tying the Canadian record for points in a single game with seven.
Bedard drew a slashing penalty early in the first period when his acceleration caught Germany’s Julian Lutz off-guard and he was promptly hacked. On the ensuing power play, Bedard called for the puck, faked a shot and found a wide-open Dylan Guenther at the side of the net to open the scoring.
Tic-tac-goal! Dylan Guenther (#Yotes) finishes the ridiculous passing play to give 🇨🇦 Canada 🇨🇦 an early 1-0 lead over Germany.
Connor Bedard and Olen Zellweger (#FlyTogether) the assists on the play.
🎥 : @TSN_Sports pic.twitter.com/bfpOsMsh0y
— EP Rinkside (@EPRinkside) December 28, 2022
Shane Wright quickly added a second goal, where Bedard’s gravity allowed Canada’s captain to bang away at the puck before it crossed the goal line, unimpeded.
Bedard’s straight-line speed was obvious to anyone who watched the game as he tormented Germany throughout the first period, ripping away from the defense when he collected a stretch pass from Logan Stankoven for a breakaway before roofing home Canada’s third goal.
Connor Bedard goes in alone on the breakaway and we all know how that goes. He snipes one past the German goaltender to give 🇨🇦 Canada 🇨🇦 a 3-1 lead.
Logan Stankoven (#TexasHockey) and Joshua Roy (#GoHabsGo) the assists on the play.
🎥 : @TSN_Sports pic.twitter.com/lyRZcxo3AT
— EP Rinkside (@EPRinkside) December 29, 2022
The Vancouver native's laser-like release was our focal point in Monday’s blog and his dynamic playmaking was on full display again Wednesday night. The 17-year-old found Guenther again with a no-look feed, and the Coyotes prospect wired it home. But again, Bedard’s best asset is his release, which was evident on his hat trick goal, where he was given too much space to operate and wired an expertly-placed wrist shot in the top corner.
— Lukas Weese (@Weesesports) December 29, 2022
Canada has only played two games, but we’re already running out of ways to describe Bedard. He’s going to destroy the record books and the worst teams in the NHL have to start their tank engines immediately, if they haven’t already!
The Michigan debate is so overblown but Canada avoided complacency
If anyone thought Canada was merely trying to turn this tournament into a glorified exhibition, think again.
"We've got to learn from this, got to move on from it. The gold medal is not won tonight," Wright said Monday night. "We've got to respect our opponent a little more. We've got to make sure that we come in every single game ready to fight. We're going to get every team's best and every team wants to beat Canada."
Bedard and Adam Fantilli both attempted the Michigan — a lacrosse-style goal that involves a player shoving the puck into the top corner — in the first period of Monday’s loss to Czechia. It was originally viewed as a sign of their superior talent, but it quickly turned into a referendum on showboating once Canada blew the lead. Asking for players to stop attempting cool tricks on the ice goes against everything we want as hockey fans, especially in a round robin format where Canada won’t miss the quarterfinals barring unthinkable disaster.
Canada followed Wright’s lead. They pushed Germany to the limit and threatened to run up the score to absurd heights during a second-period barrage, the team defense and back-checking was dialed in, and the team can feel much better about its overall performance. Let Bedard and Fantilli attempt the Michigan, it’s not harming anyone; certainly not a Canadian juggernaut that can, but didn’t, operate on cruise control Wednesday.
Thomas Milic should still be Canada’s No. 1 going forward
Thomas Milic was always going to get the start after Benjamin Gaudreau was pulled on Monday night. It’s now Milic’s job to lose. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but you can reasonably expect that he ought to be between the pipes for the foreseeable future.
Milic let in a soft goal early, as Roman Kechter’s wrist shot trickled through his pads, briefly tying the game at 1-1. It’s certainly one Milic wants to have back, and though he was relatively untested throughout the contest, he did enough to hold onto the starter’s job, making 10 saves.
Tie game! Roman Kechter gets 🇩🇪 Germany 🇩🇪 on the board, sneaking the shot five-hole past Thomas Milic for the 1-1 goal.
Quirin Bader and Philip Sinn the assists on the play.
🎥 : @TSN_Sports pic.twitter.com/ssNSwqqc4q
— EP Rinkside (@EPRinkside) December 29, 2022
Milic did enough to keep Germany out of reach, with his best save of the contest coming in the second period, where he slid across the crease to rob Phillipp Krenig, while Canada held onto a 4-1 lead.
There’s plenty for Milic to play for outside of the tournament as well, as the 19-year-old remains undrafted by an NHL team. Wednesday’s performance wasn’t enough to convince an NHL team to take a chance on him, but the incentive is there for him to play the best hockey of his career. For now, he’s earned an extended look as Canada moved to 1-1.
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