Knee-Jerks: Super Series Game 1

kneejerk.jpg The first Juniors Super Summit game was a push-me, pull-you affair: the Russian team got ahead and seemed to be in command early, but Canada’s smart, physical game eventually broke through to the tune of a 4 – 2 win over the hosts.

  • Karl Alzner’s game is often described as ‘smooth’, and today was no different, less an out-of-character tripping penalty. The Caps’ first pick in the 2007 draft has an effortless stride, a low panic-point, and an active stick. He poke-checked a puck destined to be a Russian open-net tally out of danger, blocked a shot man-down, and received plenty of ice time. Not flashy, but effective.
  • Josh Godfrey (drafted 34th overall in 2007) demonstrated his power point shot three or four times, though he only put it on-cage once. He didn’t seem to get many even-strength minutes, but was a fixture on the power play, and his slapshot drew comparisons with Al MacInnis’. Later, he showed decent speed by getting back to try and foil a Russian short-handed chance.
  • Both goaltenders gave up some soft goals, but Canadian netminder Steve Mason settled down later in the game, where Simeon Varlamov (drafted 23rd overall, 2006) of Russia struggled for consistency and was weak on the ice, allowing several 5-hole strikes and giving up all of Canada’s goals low.
  • The Canadians looked faster than the Russians overall, and were much more aggressive on the forecheck.
  • Canada carried the physical play for the most part, but the best hit of the day may have been Russia’s Vyatcheslav Voynov clobbering pheonom John Tavares in the first.
  • Evgeni Dadonov was one of the few forwards that showed a pulse for the host team, using his speed to get wide on Canada’s defense and create several scoring chances.
  • Alexei Cherepanov displayed some of his exciting skill-set, but didn’t figure on the score sheet, and didn’t have many scoring chances.

In the end, the game was decided by a combination of Canada’s excellent penalty killing and Russia’s confused-looking power play. The referees called things very tight, and the special teams of each squad got quite the work-out. If Russia wants to get back in the series, it seems that Varlamov must settled down, and Russia must convert on their man-up opportunities.
Mostly, however, it’s nice to see competitive hockey again. The level of young talent and passion on the ice is an excellent lead-in to the 2007-2008 NHL campaign.

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6 Responses to Knee-Jerks: Super Series Game 1

  1. Gustafsson says:

    I’ve missed the Knee-Jerks. This is like Knee-Jerk training camp.

  2. jwh37 says:

    I think Varlamov is going to really struggle if he doesn’t settle down. He looked very squirly in the rookie camp, and I assume he was today by this showing. He paddles down far too often, and over-reacts alot.

  3. OrderedChaos says:

    I agree jwh, but we need to remember that he’s just a kid. Very, very few goalies are NHL-ready at his age; for every Cam Ward there are dozens who hit their stride in the mid-20s (or later).
    He does need work, but I have faith in Dave Prior’s positive assessment and hope that, with more training and seasoning, Varlamov will turn into a Capitals star.

  4. capitalgoodie says:

    Glad to see the knee jerks return.
    While on the subject, someone should have ‘jerked the knees’ out from under Varlamov today as he really didn’t cover the low stuff well.
    Chalk it up to rust for now, although it still baffles me how he put up the numbers he did in the RSL when he’s so not “professionalized” in his style. I still say he’s a far superior natural athlete than most goalies in the world so hopefully the rest will fall in place over time.
    Lovin’ Alzner.
    Russian D-corps needs a heart transplant as well if they’re to stay in the series.

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