1/4/2007 1:47:53 AM
With all due respect to the high-flying Russians, the real team that stands in Canada's way of a third straight World Junior gold medal is Canada itself. With 11 returnees from last year's team and having dispatched the co-favourite Americans in dramatic fashion, Canada remains as the team to beat.
The Canadians must be careful not to beat themselves and that could happen against a highly skilled Russian team if Canada doesn't get its offence untracked. If there's a concern going into this gold medal game, it's that Canada seems to lacking some finish; that it has to work way too hard to score its goals.
The top offensive line of Brad Marchand, Andrew Cogliano and Steve Downie seems to be missing more than it's clicking. The line of Jonathan Toews, Tom Pyatt and Ryan O'Marra never hurts Canada but, the shootout heroics aside, it can be a goal-challenged unit. The Darren Helm, Marc-Andre Cliché, Dan Bertram line provides lots of energy and while Helm looks to me like he could be the kind of sleeper to score a big goal, it's primarily a grinding unit.