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Lightning Round: hockey you can watch over the holidays

and some hockey you can’t.

Canada v United States: Gold Medal Game - 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship
EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 05: Cole Caulfield #13 of the United States with the World Juniors trophy after defeating Canada during the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship gold medal game at Rogers Place on January 5, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada.
Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

The 2022 Men’s IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships are set to begin on Boxing Day. The preliminary games fired up yesterday and the action will continue on Sunday. All the games can be seen on the NHL Network in the US or on TSN in Canada.

Team USA are the defending champions, but Team Canada brought in 16-year-old phenom Connor Bedard. The last time Canada brought in a kid more likely to fit in a grade 11 class than in a U20 hockey tournament, it was Connor McDavid. Russia is bringing a phenom of their own in Matvei Michkov, who only just turned 17.

As the Tampa Bay Lightning don’t have any prospects in the tournament — poor Jack Finley and Declan McDonnell were cut — it’s definitely worth your time checking him out as a prospect the Lightning will never get because they’re too good. Canada also has the potential top pick in the 2022 Draft in Shane Wright.

Here is the link to the full schedule. Games will be happening at 12pm, 2:30pm, 5pm, and 7:30pm ET. Hockey all day, every day for a solid 11 days.

For full rosters, check out Elite Prospects’ Men’s WJC page. They have rosters (including where players were drafted) and lots of historical facts. Did you know Peter Forsberg is the all-time leader in Men’s WJC points with 42 in just 14 games?

Unfortunately, while the Men’s WJC goes on, the IIHF have cancelled all tournaments in January — including the Women’s U18s. The Women’s U18s is the equivalent to the Men’s U20 because the IIHF doesn’t run a women’s U20 tournament.

This is not the first time the Men’s WJC has gone on or other men’s tournaments have been able to get postponed while the women’s tournaments get cancelled immediately without second thought. Last year, the women’s national teams fought the IIHF to reinstate their World Championships tournament for a later date, eventually getting the games in over the summer when Canada beat the USA in the gold medal game.

If games have to be postponed due to COVID, that’s understood. But downright cancelling them at first blush and not even bothering to try and find another date? That’s cold by the governing body. Especially considering the Women’s U18s were cancelled last year too. Women’s sports in the US (namely the NCAA, WNBA, and NWSL) have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. The IIHF and USA Hockey not pushing to grow the hockey side in this way is wrong and goes against their PR press releases.

The news last night (or a few hours ago as I’m writing this) was very disheartening. I hope the Women’s U18s can get a new life in the spring or summer, in Sweden where they’re originally supposed to play, or in the US or Canada. Somewhere, anywhere, so we can watch the future world class players in the sport. And get a damn U20 tournament going for crying out loud.

/End rant.

Lightning Links

I know most Lightning fans hated Corey Perry six months ago. I wonder if that’s still the case now. I’d love to have gotten data and do a poll.

Despite being bubbled in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, things aren’t going perfectly (zero covid) at the Men’s WJC. We’ll see how things develop. But for now, the arenas will only be at 50% capacity for fans.

Even if you don’t sift through all the charts in the article, please at least take away the fact that the Edmonton Oilers bottom-six forwards have been a 35% goals share group in recent years. Utterly awful.