The Americans got scoring from eight different players, including three defensemen, in a resounding 8-0 victory over Germany to open their 2013 World Junior Championship slate. Now keeping in mind that the Germans represent the smallest threat in the loaded Group B, this result was one that certainly shouldn't be looked at as unexpected, but there were a lot of positives to take away from the win.
First, and obviously foremost, the Americans got three points for a regulation win, something Russia failed to do in their opening game yesterday against Slovakia. The Russians won 3-2 in overtime, a result that yields two points rather than three. The Americans won't have much time to enjoy this win though, as the host nation lurks in advance of their meeting tomorrow.
A few things to take away from today's win:
- There was a nauseating amount of talk in the NHL Network broadcast about last year's opening game, a 12-2 victory over Latvia, and how it can be deceiving after the United States' seventh-place finish in the 2012 tournament. While it's important to note that this win means ultimately very little, it's even more important to differentiate this year's team from last year's. A weakness has become a strength on the blue line, and there was nobody on last year's team with the offensive prowess that Alex Galchenyuk has.
- The line of Galchenyuk, Riley Barber and Sean Kuraly was buzzing all day. The trio combined for eight points, including a goal by Kuraly that started the scoring just 19 seconds into the game. Kuraly also won 10 of the 14 faceoffs he took. Galchenyuk earned Player of the Game honors for his three-point effort, thanks in large part to this fantastic shot (h/t to @dr_habs for the video):
- John Gibson was good when tested, as infrequent as that was. He was lifted after the second period to get Jon Gillies some work, but he'll be back in net tomorrow against Russia. Gibson showed that there's no longer reason to be concerned about a hip flexor issue that had some inside the US camp worried earlier this month. He slid side-to-side very well, making four saves on a five-on-three disadvantage.
- Speaking of that five-on-three, it wasn't the only time the Americans were forced to play down two men. Penalties continue to be an issue for this team, and while they got away with it against Germany, they likely won't have the same luck against the potent power plays that Russia and Canada feature. Often times it's the most disciplined team, not necessarily the most talented one, who prevails in international competition.
- The Americans did score with the man-advantage power play in the second period, on a goal by Shayne Gostisbehere, but could've had two or three more. The devil is often in the details with special teams, and the United States is promoting quality scoring chances. This could grow into a strength as the tournament wears on.
- In addition to Gostisbehere, Team USA also got goals from each of their two big-name defenders, Seth Jones and Jacob Trouba. Defensemen on the offensive will continue to be a theme for this team if they're to be successful. Both of these future stars have blistering shots that must be unleashed. Don't believe me? Fine, see for yourself:
- One play that will likely go overlooked was a strong backcheck and diving poke check by Rocco Grimaldi to neutralize a German breakaway. At the time, the score was 8-0 and the game was well in hand, but Grimaldi's motor never turns off. Attitudes like that are infectious, and it seems as though this entire American team is catching a bit of it.
There's a full slate of action ahead for tomorrow, including the showdown with the US and Russia at 9 a.m. EST. Follow @The_Scratches on Twitter for updates on all the action!