For me, the rivalry has always been the Russians. America–in terms of hockey competition–was the little brother until 1980 and then after that failed to become a world power. The USA has enormous talent, but for some reason has had only limited success in international competitions of note. The Americans won this event in 2004 and 2010–their two WJ championships rank them behind Canada (15), USSR/Russia (13) and tied with Sweden, Finland and the Czechs.
In WJ competition, the Americans are “in the mix” each Christmas but often shoot themselves in the foot or fail to take advantage of opportunity.
I think Seth Jones might be a guy who could equalize things. I’ve watched him a little and he’s got that “calm the waves” ability to defuse sorties with great ease. I’m no scout and am certainly getting ahead of myself but I think he’s going to be a great defender in a Rod Langway/Chris Pronger kind of fashion. All kinds of things could keep him from delivering on that kind of promise, but the pieces to the puzzle are absolutely stunning.
All these damn highlight packages show his offense but for me the appeal on this player is the defense. If you watch the game tomorrow, see how easily he negotiates the sorties. He’s impressive, although as we saw against the Russians Jones isn’t perfect.
I always cheer for Canada and after that Finland. I’ve never really cheered for the USA in anything, owing mostly to my own tendency to champion the underdog. Seth Jones is no underdog.
He could be special at a very difficult facet of the game.
I’m not comfortable with Team Canada. They lack across the board skill up front and their blueline has a couple of guys who don’t appear to be able to play defense. I think Malcom Subban will be fine but he’s going to get tested here in the next few days. I don’t have confidence in Kevin Prendergast and I’m increasingly suspicious that the Team Canada coach takes a bunch of kids from his league and then overlooks the other two CHL leagues. Hunter Shinkaruk should be on this team, Ryan Pulock too. jmo.