The World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament games continued with Team Europe taking on Team North America in Montreal.
Team Europe versus Team North America
Jonathan Drouin – 0-1-1, +3, 1 SOG, 2 Hits, 17:13 TOI
Drouin spent the game teamed up with old Halifax Mooseheads linemate Nathan MacKinnon and Edmonton Oiler Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The trio is Team North America’s “second” line, but the coaches did a good job to rolling all four lines with about a 4 minute difference from the top forward (Drouin) to the bottom forward (Nugent-Hopkins at 13:08) with most of the difference coming from power play time. Their forward group is loaded with skill up and down the line up and that’s allowed the coaches to not overtax any one line.
Jonathan Drouin got some power play time, but he didn’t seem to be utilized in the best way. He was often set up in the slot, spinning like a top watching the puck go around the outside. This is similar to the role that Jonathan Marchessault took in the power play with Tampa Bay last season. This just seems really odd as he also doesn’t have the strength and size to battle with defensemen near the net. Drouin is a good enough shooter to be there, but he’s more in his element when he’s on the half wall running the power play from there. He seems to be mis-cast here and I can’t really explain why.
On Team North America’s last power play in the third period though, it was obvious Drouin was directing traffic, often motioning where to pass. He was moving around more, but still ended up having to get out in front of the net often and was battling with Zdeno Chara which is almost a full foot and 50 pound different. I may be exaggerating a little on the size difference, but not by much.
Team North America shelled Team Europe to a 4-0 win in their first match up and it looked like they were going to do the same as they opened up a 3-0 lead early in the first period that sent Tomas Greiss to the locker room early. Team Europe responded getting to 3-1, but Team North America responded with two more goals. Team Europe came back with three straight goals to cut the lead to 5-4 almost halfway into the third period before Team North America answered with another goal from Johnny Gaudreau, his second of the night. Team North America would add an empty netter before time expired.
As the game went on, Team North America got a little sloppier and let Team Europe get back into they game. They’re going to need to clean that up if they hope to hang with Team Russia and Team Sweden in the group phase. I think they will and if they do, they’re in a good position to make it into the semi-finals.
The teams that trained in Europe are now making their way across the pond and games will resume on Tuesday with Team Finland versus Team USA. The pre-tournament games wrap up on Wednesday with Team Czech Republic versus Team North America, Team Sweden versus Team Europe, and Team Russia versus Team Canada.
Tournament games will start on Saturday with Team USA versus Team Europe and Team Czech Republic versus Team Canada.