Throughout the Young Stars Tournament, we will have in-person coverage from Harrison, while I will be “in studio” back here in the Valley. We won’t be writing our usual I Watched This Game feature, as the games themselves are not what matters. Instead, we’ll be looking at the individual performances. I will be choosing the 3 stars from amongst the Canucks prospects as well as making a few other observations. Why just the Canucks prospects? Because we don’t care about the other teams. Screw ‘em.
3rd Star: Adam Polasek
The third star could have gone to a number of players, not because many players played well, but because no one in particular stood out. Alex Friesen had a decent game, putting in some good work on the penalty kill and getting involved offensively with his strong skating and willingness to get to the front of the net. Stefan Schneider was reasonably effective, getting a couple shots and making some nice plays. Sebastien Erixon looked good for most of the game, winning puck battles and making smart plays.
But it was Adam Polasek’s work on the penalty kill that earned him the third star. He was physical and had excellent positioning and was a big part of the Jets’ powerplay going 0-for-6. He was also effective at even-strength, making smart, crisp passes and using his size and positioning to angle off the Jets forwards. One particular play stands out: when Frankie Corrado lost the puck in the neutral zone, Polasek aggressively cut off the Jet forward with an attempted hipcheck. The check itself missed, but it completely disrupted the offensive opportunity and allows the Canucks to regain the puck.
2nd Star: Anton Rodin
Rodin was undoubtedly the best Canucks forward on the ice. He was quick and shifty on his skates, making it very difficult for the Jets to contain him. I swore I also saw some Samuelsson-esque head fakes.
While he took a few too many risks in his own end of the ice for my tastes, he kept the puck moving in the right direction. He led the Canucks with 3 shots and was buzzing around the offensive zone when the Canucks pulled Karel St. Laurent for the extra attacker. It will be very interesting to see what he can do with some more talented linemates in main camp.
1st Star: Karel St. Laurent
Once again, St. Laurent was excellent in net for the Canucks. His positioning was sound and that, combined with his size, did most of the work for him. But he also controlled his rebounds well, either immediately swallowing them up or kicking them away from danger. When he was unable to do so, he tracked the puck well and was able to make some big saves from in tight. His puck handling was also solid, and he was calm and poised at all times. He deserves a shot at main camp, but it’s unclear where he might fit in the Canucks organization, with both the Canucks and Wolves set at the position already.
Invitee of the Game: Karel St. Laurent
No shock here: he was the first star, so he was definitely the best invitee. I also thought Craig Duininck had a solid game. His first pass is excellent: you can safely ignore the one that led to Mark Scheifele’s goal: the pass was directly on Michael Curtis’s tape and he simply flubbed it. Which is a bit of a shame, as this was the best game Curtis played all week, though he also missed the net on a golden opportunity to score.
There were 6 other invitees in the lineup, as well as goaltender Brendan Jensen, who got a chance to suit up as the backup, though he didn’t hit the ice during the game. Marc Anthony Zanetti had a reasonable game – he didn’t stand out for positive or negative reasons – and he will appear at Canucks main camp. Jonathan Lessard played his best game of the tournament, throwing a number of solid checks and distributing the puck well. And Ryan Harrison was much more noticeable in this game than in previous games, showing some decent speed and good defensive awareness.
Biggest Disappointment: The 11:30 Start Time
None of the Canucks were particularly terrible in this game, as several players just had a mixed bag of good and bad moments. The 11:30 start time, on the other hand, was awful. With a tournament in Penticton, BC, your main draw is the Vancouver Canucks. How, then, do you schedule only 1 of their 4 games at 7:30? Predictably, the arena was mostly empty and I sincerely doubt that many people streamed the game live. It’s likely also part of the reason this was such a mediocre game: the players seemed to lack their usual legs.
Kudos to the Canucks website, however, for keeping a complete replay of the game on Canucks TV. Otherwise, I can’t write this article.
The Mason Raymond Award for “We Need More Out of You”: Nicklas Jensen
Don’t get me wrong: Jensen was consistently one of the best Canucks forwards throughout the tournament, proving that he’s the real deal and well deserving of the first round selection. Against the bigger, more skilled Jets prospects (who only brought 22 players to the tournament), however, Jensen was not as dominant as he was in the other games. My only concern is that the same thing will occur when we reach preseason games against legitimate NHL talent. Will Jensen continue to slide out of focus? Will he be able to handle that level of competition? As the games get more physical, will he able to handle that aspect?
Obviously, the Canucks don’t need Jensen to be ready to play in the NHL this season, but I am certain they would like to see a bit more out of their prized prospect than what he was able to show against the Jets prospects. I’m hopeful that he will rise to the occasion.Tags: featured, Invitees, Prospects, Young Stars Three Stars, YoungStars