I’m going to start out by saying this: It wasn’t really his fault.
Sure, Malcolm Subban wasn’t exactly on his “A-Game” for Canada’s matchup against the United States in their IIHF World Junior Championship semifinal early Thursday morning, but the stat sheet makes Subban out to be the scapegoat. That’s a far from accurate portrayal.
The 19-year old first round draft pick by the Bruins let in four goals on sixteen shots before being replaced with a little more than seven minutes to play in the second period of Team USA’s 5-1 shellacking of the Canadians this morning. However, Thursday’s defeat was a collective failure on the part of Team Canada – who defeated the US 2-1 in their round robin game this past Sunday – not a case of one man costing his team a shot at gold.
Subban was brilliant in Sunday’s game, stopping 36 of 37 shots against him and showing why he was the number one ranked goaltending prospect in this summer’s draft, eventually going to Boston in their 24th overall slot.
He wasn’t quite as sharp on Thursday, maybe feeling a bit of rust due to Canada’s extra day of rest earned after their 4-1 win over Russia on Monday, but he also wasn’t quite as bad as the numbers make him out to be. From the very first drop of the puck at 4:00 AM (EST, of course. Gametime in tournament host Ufa, Russia was 3:00 PM) the Canadians were as flat as an unfinished Jack and Coke leftover from your weekend bender.
That’s right, the almighty Team Canada, who were strongly favored coming into the matchup against the stars and stripes, got absolutely bullied for sixty minutes by a bunch of kids who weren’t given much credit prior to this year’s tourny.
Team USA dominated the front of the net pretty much all game, but especially in the first period, when Subban got beat twice by USA captain Jake McCabe.
On the first goal, the US generated so much traffic in front there was no chance Subban could get a read on, or likely even see, the puck. McCabe and Team USA were patient with the biscuit, waited for an opening, and took their shot. Subban didn’t stand a chance.
McCabe’s second strike again came with the assistance of some soft D and a down-in-front screen, this one provided by Subban’s own teammate. There’s been a lot of talk about Subban’s “body language” coming into the tournament, and if his stature could speak after that second goal it probably would have went a little something like this:
As for the other two goals? Those were made possible by some terrible north-of-the-border defending coupled with a few nifty moves and snipes, including one by Boston College’s Johnny Gaudreau.
Could Subban have made the stops? Possibly, but his defenders left him out to dry and let him get picked apart. Watch:
So, yeah, Subban wasn’t great, but his teammates were worse. It’s easy to look at a stat line and point fingers at the guy in net, especially when that guy holds as much hype and potential as Subban, but that’s not the play here. The blame falls on Canada’s execution as a whole.
After all, the game of hockey is a “sum of all parts” type of deal, and those Canadian parts were all sorts of dysfunctional for whatever reason on Thursday. They got outmuscled and outplayed by a bunch of yankees who had something to prove, and the prove it they did.