It’s the most wonderful time of the year: World Junior Championship Season! And this year it’s even more special, because while it would normally augment my normal hockey-viewing schedule, now it’s replacing my “walking nervously around the house in a Backstrom jersey” schedule or my “watching 20 seconds of Wizards basketball before laughing and changing the channel” schedule. (And, with games now cancelled until January 14th, things are not looking up.)
So! A reprieve. Nothing gets your blood up like some friendly nationalism, and there’s no better way to recover from Christmas than to shout at children on your TV under the guise of scouting. The WJC is often the semi-casual fan’s chance to get a first look at the draft picks from earlier in the year. It also gives yet-undrafted players a chance to prove themselves in a high-pressure tournament atmosphere.
The WJC also has a special place in Caps fans’ hearts, since the last USA gold was won by none other than Real American Hero John Carlson with a blistering wrister to win in overtime. It’s something we like to remember every time he decides to pass rather than shoot (“We know you have a laser-like wrist shot, JC, why don’t you use it?“).
A few Capitals prospies made the training camps: Riley Barber for team USA, and Filip Forsberg and Christian Djoos for team Sweden. Forsberg, of course, was our first round draft pick from the 2012 draft, and he has been named the captain of team Sweden. He was also part of the championship Swedish team last year! I think we know who to secretly root for now.
On a personal note, I’m very excited that Germany qualified for the first time in a long time, and their real goal, as in all international hockey competition, is to avoid relegation. Which is why I am less excited that they’re in Group B with the USA, Canada, and Russia. It was nice seeing you!