May 19, 2013

Dobber Sports

2013-05-19

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There were only two games on the NHL slate on Saturday, but there was actually a tonne of quality hockey played from Saskatoon to Stockholm.

 

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Let’s start in Stockholm, where the Swedes faced off against the Finns in the semi-final of the World Hockey Championships. Amidst news that Alex Edler was going to be dealt a five game suspension for his knee-on-knee hit on Eric Staal – i.e. a suspension that would carry over into the Sochi Olympics, and possibly cost the Canucks defender his slot on the Tre Kronor – the Swedes played a hell of a game, and dominated on the power-play against the Finnish side. Henrik and Daniel Sedin playing alongside Dallas Stars sniper Loui Eriksson were completely dominant on Saturday, and if you missed it I highly recommend the highlights (which are literally just sweet Sedin plays, and awesome Jhonas Enroth saves):

 

 

In particular check out the set up by Henrik Sedin (working from Gretzky’s office) and the finish on Eriksson’s second goal at roughly 1:15 of the above video. Lovely stuff.

 

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One Swedish player, currently outside the NHL, who has stood out to me all tournament long is Petter Granberg (two t’s in Petter, that’s not a typo on my end). He’s a 2010 4th round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs and a stay-at-home type defenceman (so he’ll probably have limited fantasy value in the NHL). Truly he looks like he’s a player, and might be able to help the Leafs out a lot sooner than one might expect, especially considering their relative lack of defensive defenceman. On Thursday Granberg was hard-matched against the Stamkos-Giroux line and he more than held his own. He was similarly good on Saturday against the Finns. Granberg possesses NHL size (6 foot, 3 inches and 210 pounds) and skates well enough that he wasn’t beat wide by some very quick players on both Canada or Finland. Impressive stuff from the twenty year old…

 

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A year ago I remember watching Jonas Brodin go toe-to-toe with the likes of Evgeni Malkin in this tournament and thinking to myself “this guy might make an impact in the NHL sooner than I’d thought.” Not that Granberg will necessarily have a similar level of success as quickly as Brodin did, but I’m just saying that he’s made a similarly positive impression on me.

 

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In the later World Hockey Championship game, the Swiss shutout the Americans, ultimately winning by a score of three-to-nothing and advancing to the gold medal game. Islanders prospect Nino Niederreiter opened the scoring with a beauty finish, and Swiss goaltender Reto Berra – the 26 year old goalie who everyone laughed at when he was described as a prospect following his acquisition by the Calgary Flames in the Jay Bouwmeester trade – made some really tough saves in the shutout.

 

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Pretty cool to see the Swiss make the finals in this tournament. Their men’s national hockey team has been in ascendance for several years now but they haven’t medalled at the World Hockey Championships since 1953…

 

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The second Swiss goal – which, more or less sealed their victory over the Americans – was scored by Julian Walker, a grinder who currently plays for Geneva in the NLA. He’s basically a fourth liner who has only managed double digits in goal once over the past five years in the Swiss league. So it was hilarious when he scored on a breakaway with Matt Hunwick and Erik Johnson just completely blowing their coverage on the play. I feel bad for Avalanche fans…

 

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Speaking of the Avalanche, they own the first overall pick in the 2013 NHL entry draft, so all eyes in Denver were turned toward Saskatoon where all three realistic contenders to be the first player selected (Drouin, Mackinnon and Jones) were all playing in the same CHL game. It turned into one hell of a contest, with MacKinnon scoring a hattrick and Drouin and Jones adding a goal each in an 11 goal contest that was wicked fun to watch.

 

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Here’s Nathan MacKinnon walking Seth Jones and doing all