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World Juniors 2018: USA vs. Denmark recap — Tour de Force

It was a banner night for the reigning WJC champions, getting two goals from Mittlestadt and Bellows, and a shutout from Woll.

United States v Canada - Gold Medal Game - 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Kasper Krog faced off against Joseph Woll, as Denmark and the USA played their first games of the tournament.

The opening of the game was pretty characteristic of the two teams. Denmark showed examples of their team defence, and USA, well, the USA scored just 2:27 in on a goal from Anaheim prospect Max Jones.

Denmark ran into a little trouble in front of their own net shortly thereafter, as Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup went of for roughing. Denmark's previously stellar penalty kill went to work, but was unable to keep the US off the board, Kieffer Bellows making it 2-0 just five minutes in.

Denmark regrouped after that, but then got stuck on a long shift in their own end, and Casey Mittelstadt made it 3-0.

Kailer Yamamoto got the 4-0 goal at 11:35 as the US held Denmark in their own zone for shift after shift after shift.

Valdemar Alberg got flattened in the defensive zone, and William Lockwood went off for interference, giving Denmark their first power play of the game. The Danes got some good puck possession in the middle portion of the advantage, but was ultimately unable to capitalize. Following their power play, however, Denmark had a couple of their better, if very brief, stretches of offensive zone time.

Team USA responded to far more effect, however, making it 5-0 with less than two minutes to go, on a shot that he batted out of mid-air and in, for one of their prettier goals of the period.

Christian Mathiasen-Wejse took an interference penalty with 24 seconds left in the period, and Denmark limped into the first intermission down 5-0, out shot 13-5.

Denmark opened the second with a strong penalty kill, getting a shot short-handed to the USA's none.

Bellows got a penalty shot goal when Setkov tied him up on a break away at 4:08 to make it 6-0.

Denmark got a power play attempt on a delay of game on Brady Tkachuk, but the USA spent most of the kill running them around their own zone. Denmark did get a good set up on the back half of the power play again, but were once more unable to beat Woll.

Once again, after the power play, Denmark had a couple of strong shifts, including one that culminated in a nice shot from Mathiasen-Wejse—perhaps their best opportunity to date.

Joachim Blichfeld got a great chance off a turn over with just over five minutes left in the second, as Denmark continued to string a succession of better shifts together. Though whether that was more because they'd settled down, and were really playing better, or because the USA sat back on their 6-0 lead is hard to say.

That didn't stop Patrick Harper from scoring the 7-0 goal with 29 seconds left in the frame.

Emil Gransoe took over the nets for Denmark to start the third, and Mittelstadt took a hooking call. Denmark continued to average one nice shot per power play, as David Madsen got one on that advantage. They got a great chance off a turn-over shortly thereafter as well.

Madsen took a slashing call at 6:12, but the Denmark penalty kill did their job, thanks, in part, to a great pad save by Gransoe.

Unfortunately, Blichfeld took a roughing call after a hit on Charlie Lindgren's brother Ryan, and Andrew Peeke scored off a Danish defenceman, with an assist from Jones.

After holding the USA off the board for 12 minutes, Denmark gave up a quick second goal to Dylan Samberg to make it 9-0.

Lindgren got high-sticked by Lucas Andersen with 1:29 to go, and the game ended 9-0.

The game more or less went as expected, USA dominating the definite underdog, and getting big performances from expected sources.

For Denmark in games against the big countries, the game is usually a matter of endurance. How long can they stand up against superior fire power, and how long can the Danish goalie hold off the siege. And in the bigger picture of the tournament, their main goal is to focus on the winnable games (in this case Slovakia), and get out of the games against a Sweden, or Canada, or USA with minimal damage. Obviously this game hurts from a pride perspective, but Denmark has shown, time and time again, that they are capable of bouncing back.

Denmark next faces Finland on the 28th, while Team USA takes on Slovakia on the same day.

Thoughts

  • This game was, without a doubt, a tour de force for Team USA, rather unsurprisingly. Mittelstadt, Jones, and Bellows especially impressing with more than just their goal scoring.
  • Habs prospect Ryan Poehling was pretty much a non-factor, though it's not as if he played badly. He just wasn't all that noticeable — a couple of decent drives to the net not withstanding.
  • Team Denmark's second period was far superior to their first, doubling their shot count, and only giving up one goal instead of five.
  • Emil Gransoe had a couple of really nice saves in his first WJC U20 appearance in relief of Kasper Krog, but Denmark is going to need both their goalies to be a lot stronger if their run in the top level is to continue.