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McKenzie: Canada enjoys early production from "Lockout Line"

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Bob McKenzie
12/26/2012 10:16:03 PM
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Thank you, NHL lockout, because if the lockout were over Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would be playing, of course, for the Edmonton Oilers. The fact that he is on Team Canada's top line at the World Juniors is entirely attributable to that lockout.

Same thing for Jonathan Huberdeau, his linemate, who was so very, very good in this opening game for Canada. It was a goal and four assists for Nugent-Hopkins, and Huberdeau lit it up as well with a goal and two assists.

Mark Scheifele, the third member of that line, might be in the NHL with the Winnipeg Jets, and might not if the lockout were over. But we know for a fact that Huberdeau would be playing for the Florida Panthers, and he wouldn't have been able to play in this tournament.

So we can call this the "Lockout Line", because two of those three players would be in the NHL if NHL games were being played right now.

In terms of Canada's goaltending, I don't know that I would call it a "shaky" performance by Malcolm Subban, necessarily, but when you give up two goals in short order on nine shots on goal in the second period, people are going to ask questions. Everybody is fine-tuned in Canada to goaltending performances at the World Juniors, as they haven't won gold in the last three years.

He gave up a short-side goal off a blatant giveaway and a point-blank shot that maybe is one of those that you say he would like to have back, but goaltending coach Ron Tugnutt and head coach Steve Spott loved the way Subban bounced back in the third period by going post-to-post and making a highlight reel save.

The coaches will look at this game on balance and they will say there is nothing there that would suggest they have any concerns about the goaltending. Lots of other people will have those concerns, because there are some people that think that Jordan Binnington should have started, but they have given the ball to Subban and he's going to go with it the entire tournament as long as he doesn't falter. And this was not considered a falter.

Nugent-Hopkins scores for Canada (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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