Losing their Captain doesn’t seem to have slowed down Team Canada at the WJC.
Despite suffering a crushing blow after losing Captain Kirby Dach pre-tournament, Team Canada got their Gold Medal defense off to a perfect start by thrashing Germany 16-2 on Saturday.
It was hardly ideal preparation for Team Canada, who went into the IIHF 2021 World Junior Championships as heavy favorites due to their stacked roster, after they lost Dach to a wrist injury.
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The Chicago Blackhawks forward suffered the injury in a pre-tournament game against Russia and will miss the entire tournament, while he’s also likely to miss the start of the 2020-21 NHL season.
However, this Canada roster is absolutely loaded with high-end talent as well as boasting a plethora of future NHL stars, and so it proved in their opening game at the World Junior Championship.
Granted, Germany was limited to just 14 skaters and three forward lines due to issues with the Coronavirus, but Team Canada probably would have made light work of a full roster anyway given their sheer strength.
Buffalo Sabres prospect Dylan Cozens was the star of the show with a hat trick and six points, while forward Dawson Mercer of the New Jersey Devils also had a big night with two goals and two assists for four points.
Forwards Peyton Krebs of the Vegas Golden Knights, Alex Newhook of the Colorado Avalanche and Nashville Predators prospect Philip Tomasino all scored two goals each, while Florida Panthers goalie Devon Levi made eight saves for Team Canada in the first two periods.
New York Rangers prospect Dylan Garand played the third period and allowed one goal on five shots, while defensemen Kaiden Guhle (Montreal Canadiens) and Thomas Harley (Dallas Stars) and forwards Ryan Suzuki (Carolina Hurricanes), Connor McMichael (Washington Capitals) and Jakob Pelletier (Calgary Flames) also all lit the lamp for Team Canada.
It was a dominant win for Team Canada who wasted little time in proving that they mean business this year, and they are back in action later when they play Slovakia in Group A.
So, even without arguably their jewel in the crown and leader in Kirby Dach, Team Canada are still an absolute juggernaut and will be a hell of a lot of fun to watch at this year’s tournament.
I mean, they are stacked from top to bottom and boast a boatload of future NHL talent, including LA Kings forward and No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, Quinton Byfield.
Also boasting Colorado Avalanche stud Bowen Byram on the backend, along with the likes of Thomas Harley, Kaedan Korczak and Braden Schneider, Canada is just rich in depth all over the ice.
Now, you could argue that they are a little weak between the pipes but, between their uber-talented forward and defense units, that will hardly matter during the course of the tournament.
And, while Russia, Team USA and Sweden will all be forces to be reckoned with, Team Canada just has far more weapons and far more talent than any other team at the 2021 World Junior Championships, and they should be an absolute juggernaut on their way to claiming Gold once again.
Even without Kirby Dach.