Dec 20, 2012, 9:50 AM EDT
HAWTHORNE, NY – When we took a look at the Team USA World Junior Championship defense the other day, it was easy to get caught up in their star power. The part of the team that might go under the radar is their offense up front, and part of that might be due to the stature of a pair of its biggest scorers.
Wingers Rocco Grimaldi (2011 second-round pick of the Panthers) and Johnny Gaudreau (2011 fourth-round pick of the Flames) don’t have an imposing presence on the ice, but their ability around the net is what gets them noticed.
Grimaldi, who plays at the University of North Dakota and listed at 5’6” 165 by USA Hockey, says his size is something he likes to turn into a problem for opponents quickly.
“I’m a lot lower to the ground so it’s a little harder to push me around. I just try to use my speed and do what I can against the bigger guys… I just try to outsmart them.”
Gaudreau has been lighting up college hockey this year with Boston College checks in at just 5’9” 150, but he says finding a nose for the net is the way to attack the defense.
“I like playing behind the net,” Gaudreau says. “When I’m playing down low the D has to make sure to block out the front of the net and make sure they know where the puck’s at. With their eyes off me, I run around down low try and look for an opening for a pass here or there.”
Gaudreau doesn’t just set up opponents, he can score goals too. Of his 44 points last year during his freshman season at BC, 21 were goals. Of his 23 points so far this year with the Eagles, he’s netted 11 more.
Team USA defenders like Seth Jones and Jacob Trouba talked about how matching up against those guys in practice was tough because of their speed and how “shifty” they are.
It’s that kind of action coach Phil Housley is hoping to see against the rest of the world. He’s seen solid results already in camp with big centerman and Rangers prospect J.T. Miller lining up with them.
“It seems they found a bit of chemistry,” Housley says. “They’re looking for each other and J.T. provides that strength down the middle. I just love the enthusiasm and they’re just trying to get better every day and that’s what we want.”
Getting better is just what USA Hockey is hoping for after last year’s disappointing seventh-place finish. If the rest of the world gets caught up in the American’s stardom on the blue line, guys like Grimaldi and Gaudreau will find ways to make them pay.
Sep 16, 2014, 10:39 PM EDT
“It’s extortion is what it is. I don’t make this stuff up.”
Sep 16, 2014, 9:22 PM EDT
Caps blueliner has had bad luck in the health department.
Sep 16, 2014, 8:21 PM EDT
Florida’s youngsters stole the show overall.
Sep 16, 2014, 7:18 PM EDT
And he’ll reportedly miss part of Minnesota’s training camp.
Sep 16, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT
The former appeared in three games for Chicago last year; the latter played in Germany.
Sep 16, 2014, 6:04 PM EDT
Sep 16, 2014, 5:35 PM EDT
The future of Detroit’s defense gets locked in.
Sep 16, 2014, 4:33 PM EDT
Just one month after re-signing Jakob Silfverberg on the cheap.
Sep 16, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT
“Fines are meaningful. And I think it has to do with essentially being called out.”
Sep 16, 2014, 3:21 PM EDT
He’ll be part of the player development department.
Sep 16, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
We pick a couple of long shots.
Sep 16, 2014, 1:40 PM EDT
Kings forward “didn’t want to become a free agent and leave” L.A.
Sep 16, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT
That’s him getting tossed around by Ryan Reaves.
Sep 16, 2014, 11:58 AM EDT
For “outstanding service to hockey in the United States.”
Sep 16, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT
Veteran power forward is trying to return from another concussion.
Sep 16, 2014, 10:59 AM EDT
Will the NHL be watching?
Sep 16, 2014, 10:13 AM EDT
Sounds like he got the message.
Sep 16, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
The recently signed forward hopes to stick with “powerhouse” team.
Sep 16, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Tuesday’s collection of links.
Sep 16, 2014, 12:45 AM EDT
“It’s turned the corner for the better as far as rehab has gone.”
- Heeeeeere’s Johnny! Davidson shreds Johansen’s agent for ‘baffling, nonsensical’ contract demands 0
- Advantage Kuemper? Harding on crutches after ankle injury 4
- Done deal, finally: Wings ink DeKeyser to two-year, $4.375M extension 9
- Update: NHL wants to see fine system in action before publicizing diving 5
- Get your odds to make the playoffs for all 30 NHL teams 17
- Blue Jackets GM to Johansen: It’s about the team, not ‘one guy’ 25
- Will the NHL publicize divers? 48
- Report: NHL, Epix network to partner on Winter Classic reality series 17
- Habs to play without captain for just second time in franchise history 16
- Chiarelli: At some point, I’m going to have to trade a defenseman 53