The biggest key to a goalie's success in the World Junior Championships is making the first few saves in their first game. Accomplishing this can not only set a positive tone for the opening game, it can also dictate the pace of their entire tournament. And in such a pressure-filled event comprised of so many elite players, a goalie's confidence can make or break a trip to the medal round, and ultimately a spot on the podium.
FANTASY MAILBAG – DECEMBER 27
Every goalie in the World Juniors, regardless of experience and skill, must be able to manage their nerves in the first game. Every team relies on their goalie to provide a calming influence right away, so the difference between a medal and going home early will often depend on which goalie can calm their nerves and settle into a rhythm the fastest.
On Sunday afternoon, analysts on TSN and the NHL Network discussed the importance of teams improving their cohesion in every game. They also mentioned the importance of having an identity and then reflecting that identity in every game. In that regard, a goalie must follow that paradigm by displaying confidence, relaxation and timeliness as often as possible. There's no room for error, as one weak goal can shatter an entire team's morale and momentum.
So when it comes to the 2011 WJC goalies, keep an eye on those dynamics. Will Olivier Roy reflect the same strong work ethic that makes him so successful in the QMJHL? Will Jack Campbell continue to be Team USA's leader and catalyst? Can Robin Lehner display the same intensity and energy we've seen in the first half of the season?
IGOR BOBKOV – Despite giving up six goals in the 3-6 loss to Canada, I feel Bobkov played a terrific game. A lot of his success stemmed from a terrific first period. He made an excellent high blocker save on the first shot he faced and then absorbed the next two shots fired his way, including a routine shot to the glove side that was going wide. Those early stops allowed his comfort level to soar and he made a number of saves look easy in the first 20 minutes. His timeliness and confidence gave his teammates the composure they needed to skate well against Canada.
When it comes to stance and mechanic