ADVERTISEMENT

USA opens defense of world junior title with Bjugstad OT winner; Email from "passionate" Canadian fan

  • Blog Post by: Michael Russo
  • December 27, 2010 - 12:23 PM

Update from Columbus: Arrived at team hotel the moment the team bus returned from the rink, which was fun. Coach Todd Richards says Barker and Staubitz are in and Schultz is 90 percent. No word on who's out, but best guess is Stoner, Spurgeon, O'Sullivan.

I think Zanon and Zidlicky split so Scandella plays and Zanon moves to right side. Barker/Zidlicky would be a pair if this scenario occurs.

Wild better be ready tonight. Struggling Columbus coach Scott Arniel met individually with each player this morning. You can bet the Blue Jackets will be jacked up and ready to go.

Morning from Atlanta, where my flight to Columbus was canceled because there's no crew. I know you need a crew to fly. That's fairly integral. But I also know I'm in Delta's main hub, so you'd think they'd be able to find a crew.

I know it probably doesn't work that way, but you'd at least think they'd know they had no crew well before I got to the airport so I didn't have to wake up at 5 a.m.!

But I digress. Just punching the keys there lowered my blood pressure to where I could actually feel it drop, so again, the blog proves therapeutic.

Greetings from the Delta Sky Club, because in Atlanta, they actually have their Delta Sky Clubs open, unlike Minneapolis for 2-plus months now. But again, I digress.

I've also been sick for four days

How important is the world junior championships in Canada?

I get countless emails weekly, some memorable, some forgettable, some humorous, some educational, some borderline insane (and you know who you are).

Back in the day, I'd reply to them all. Honestly, I just don't have the time anymore, which is why many of you get replies from me weeks after you send them. Want to reach me instantaneously?

Twitter's now the way (www.twitter.com/russostrib). 

But this is one of the funniest emails from yesterday. I literally LOLed as I read it:

Wuz up,

A few of us are headed down too Buffalo from Canada. We just wanted you to know that Canada
is going to make the Americans look and feel silly on home ice. We can't wait to beat the USA in the
USA and party hard on the streets of Buffalo. So nobody there can sleep, because all night long we're
celebrating our victory in YOUR Country. I hope I'm not spoiling your Christmas with this news. You
can quote that and put it in your newspaper if you like. We do love the USA, but; WJC CANADA RULES!!!

Happy Holidays,

George B

Clearly, George forgot the fact that last year the USA celebrated its victory in HIS country, which I'm fairly sure hit a bigger majority of the Canadian population where it hurts a lot harder than if the opposite were to happen.

But, the above email just illustrates how important the world juniors are in Canada and in Europe and hopefully in time, the United States.

It's a wonderful tournament -- the best of the best under-20 stars out there, and to me, a much greater deal than the world championships in May, which consist of out-of-playoff NHLers -- and only the ones who didn't bow out because of injury or tired bodies and minds from a long NHL grind.

USA Hockey has a tremendous team over in Buffalo, highlighted by five Minnesotans (Nick Leddy, Nick Bjugstad, Justin Faulk, Brock Nelson and Derek Forbort) -- the most of any state.

Last night, the Americans opened defense of their title by beating Erik Haula and the Finns, 3-2, in overtime.

Bjugstad, Haula's UofM teammate and native of Blaine, scored the OT winner. Faulk also scored in the game, as did Wild prospect Jason Zucker. Haula, a Wild prospect as well, had an assist.

Nelson did get hurt in the game, and USA Hockey is expected to announce the extent of the injury today.

The Americans next play Slovakia on Tuesday at 7 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on the NHL Network and streamed live on usahockey.fasthockey.com.

George B's country beat Russia in its first game.

AS for the Wild, I won't make its optional morning skate because Delta can't find a crew to fly to Columbus even with thousands of flight cancellations (but I digress).

Coach Todd Richards said after last night's ugly loss to Detroit (not a shocker, last night was the exact template the Wild usually put forth in the first game after Christmas) that Nick Schultz, Cam Barker and Brad Staubitz will be back in.

I'll be interested to see how Schultz plays. He didn't sound like he felt great after yesterday's skate, and since his head injury in Calgary last week, he didn't practice or exert himself physically. I'd think it would be premature to play him, but Richards said he's in.

Clayton Stoner's definitely out, I'd think, after watching last night on the laptop. So the other D would be Scandella or Spurgeon, and since Schultz is Brent Burns' usual partner, I bet Scandella comes out since Richards continues to praise Spurgeon left and right. If it were me, I'd sit Spurgeon and keep Scandella, but I'm just guessing what happens.

This of course is assuming nobody got hurt last night on the back end.

As far as up front, Staubitz will likely get in for Patrick O'Sullivan or Eric Nystrom.

Nystrom still hasn't scored with a goalie in net and sorry, but that double faceoff violation last night was careless and exemplified the Wild's out-of-sync play for the entire game. Although, you've got to like Nystrom at least trying to turn things around and spark his team by attempting to engage Brad Stuart.

And O'Sullivan, well, he can just be aggravating sometimes with his mental lapses and lack of physicality. Plus, for such an offensive player, he's got five points in 14 games and two assists in his last nine games.

So we'll see. I'll be landing about the time the Wild's at the rink, so if I get any lineup updates, I'll put it on Twitter and update the blog this afternoon.

Holiday roster freeze ends at midnight tonight. We'll see if the Wild does anything.

As I reported yesterday in my Sunday package, the Wild's been offered Atlanta's Niclas Bergfors and Ben Eager. I don't see the Wild making either of those moves.

Yes Bergfors is young. Yes Bergfors got some skillzzz.

But he's also small. He also lacks grit. He also could inhibit the Wild from doing something else in the future (you only get 50 contracts).

If the Wild didn't grab O'Sullivan on waivers, if P-M Bouchard didn't return, then it makes sense. Now, I just don't think they do it, or they probably already would have done so because Bergfors was offered to the Wild and much of the league just before the freeze.

That's it for me. I'm going to do laps around Atlanta Hartsfield now.

But I digress.

© 2014 Star Tribune