Going for the Gold

Posted on January 14, 2013

The 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship (played in Ufa, Russia) draws to a close tomorrow with the bronze medal and gold medal games. Canada faces Russia in the bronze medal game with puck drop at 4 a.m. for you early risers. The main event, of course, is the gold medal game between

Team USA and Sweden. That one faces off at 8 a.m. Team USA will be gunning for its third ever gold medal in the tournament’s 37-year history. Sweden will also be seeking its third gold medal. The Swedes will be seeking to repeat; they won the 2012 WJC tournament.

Team USA comes into the gold medal game on the heels of a convincing 5-1 win over Canada in Thursday’s semi-final game. The Americans have lost two of the six games they’ve played in the tournament – to Russia and Canada in round-robin play – and were on the short end of 2-1 scores in each of those setbacks. Team USA boasts an overall goal differential of 31-8. That differential is 21-4 in the last three games.

Team USA goaltender John Gibson has been superb throughout the tournament. He is 4-2 with a .954 save pct. and a 1.42 GAA. Gibson has stopped 167 of the 175 shots he has faced, and he has surrendered just five even-strength goals in the six games.

The Americans are tops in the tournament in penalty killing prowess, having successfully snuffed 23 of the 25 shorthanded situations it has faced in the tournament. Team USA’s power play unit is tied for the tournament lead with a dozen extra-man tallies. The Americans’ power-play (12-for-39) is clicking at a rate of 30.8 pct., the third best rate in the tournament.

Sweden’s power play (11-for-30) is tops in the tournament in terms of efficiency with a 36.7% rate of success. The Swedes are tied for fifth in penalty-killing with a 78.3% kill rate. They’ve killed off 18 of 23 opposition power plays.

Three of the Caps’ 2012 draftees will be playing in Saturday’s gold medal game. Team USA forward Riley Barber has totaled three goals and three assists for six points in the six games. Barber has notched 20 shots on goal, four PIM and a plus-1 rating. He scored one of his goals on the power play. Barber was Washington’s sixth-round (167th overall) pick in the 2012 NHL Draft.

Filip Forsberg was the Capitals’ first-round (11th overall) choice in last summer’s draft. Forsberg is Team Sweden’s captain. He has three goals and two assists in five games along with 28 shots on goal and a plus-1 rating. He has one game-winning goal and one power-play strike.

Sweden also features defenseman Christian Djoos, Washington’s seventh-round (195th overall) choice in the 2012 NHL Draft. Djoos has played in five games, picking up three assists and 10 shots on net while posting an even rating.

You can view the gold medal game on both The NHL Network and nhl.com. The bronze medal contest will be shown on The NHL Network. Both games will be re-broadcast later in the day on The NHL Network. The taped edition of the bronze medal game airs at 5:30 p.m. and the recorded version of the gold medal game will be shown at 8 p.m.

Posted in: Sports
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Caps Coaches Focus on Task at Hand

January 14, 2013

Less than 30 hours after the NHL and NHLPA came to an agreement on a new CBA that will end the ongoing 2012-13 NHL lockout, a handful of Caps players convened to take the ice for an informal practice on Monday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. By Tuesday another handful of players had trickled into town, including captain Alex Ovechkin. About a dozen Caps hit the Kettler sheet on Tuesday. While the league and the NHLPA await final ratification of the new CBA – a process that could take the better part of this week – the dates of the start of training camp and opening night are still up in the air. Once both sides have signed off on the CBA, teams can conduct training camp and release their schedules for the upcoming 48-game season.

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