Wednesday, December 26, 2007

World Juniors and Spengler Cup Begin, Bernier and Cujo Sharp

It's that time of the year again Canadians, the World Juniors and the Spengler Cup are both now under way. Both tournaments got off on a good foot for the Canadian teams, the juniors winning 3-0 over the Czechs, and the semi-pros winning 4-3 in a shootout over Pardubice. The win wasn't the only similarity between the two teams. Jonathan Bernier was flat out sensational in his first ever World Junior Championship game, which oddly enough comes after his first ever NHL game. Bernier, as most of you know, started the LA Kings first game of the year in London, England. He made 44 saves for the shutout, in a game in which Canada was actually outshot by the Czechs. On the Spengler side of things, Curtis Joseph was strong in his first game in six months, especially in the shootout. He looked a little shaky early on, but the Cujo of old was seen in various points throughout the game.

Bernier was fantastic, as usual, and he looks so much more in control than he did when he was up with the Kings. It showed me that calling him up may have been a bit premature by the Kings, but he will be there sooner rather than later. I would catch myself just watching Bernier, in awe of his strength and agility. TSN kept saying that the starter's role was up for grabs between him and Steve Mason, but after tonight I highly doubt that. Nothing against Mason, it's just that you can't deny how well Bernier played today. The coaching staff needs to give him the ball so he can run with it, much like they did with Justin Pogge and Carey Price.

Joseph looked strong in his debut, sporting a new butterfly style, rather than his usual Hasek-like style. It may take him a few more games to get back into the swing of things, but I fully expect him to be back to his usual self by the time the tournament ends. That will put him in the perfect situation, ready to be signed by an NHL team looking for an upgrade in net for the stretch run (Pittsburgh, what are you waiting for!!?!?!?!?) All in all, it will be an interesting few weeks up ahead, and I look forward to sitting back, relaxing, and watching some great international hockey!