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.
Jul 12, 2014, 9:15 PM EDT
One columnist lays out the sticky situation.
Jul 12, 2014, 8:11 PM EDT
He’s recovering from offseason wrist surgery.
Jul 12, 2014, 7:11 PM EDT
He was part of the Jarome Iginla trade.
Jul 12, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT
He bought the team back in 1999.
Jul 12, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT
The 2012 first-rounder excelled at the junior level last season.
Jul 12, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT
He’s been watching Washington for a while now.
Jul 12, 2014, 2:42 PM EDT
He might start the 2014-15 campaign with the Sabres.
Jul 12, 2014, 1:23 PM EDT
He wants to return to the NHL.
Jul 12, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT
The two share an agent.
Jul 12, 2014, 11:10 AM EDT
The Flyers goaltending prospect is set to begin his pro career in 2014-15.
Jul 12, 2014, 10:04 AM EDT
He had a hearing scheduled for July 25.
Jul 12, 2014, 9:01 AM EDT
He lost vision in his right eye.
Jul 12, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Peruse Saturday’s set of links.
Jul 11, 2014, 11:23 PM EDT
Two former first-round draft picks.
Jul 11, 2014, 10:05 PM EDT
He didn’t play professional hockey in 2013-14.
Jul 11, 2014, 9:01 PM EDT
Jason Spezza’s departure likely makes him Ottawa’s No. 1 pivot.
Jul 11, 2014, 8:04 PM EDT
Will their optimism be justified?
Jul 11, 2014, 6:40 PM EDT
He seemed bound for Switzerland on Thursday.
Jul 11, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT
They acquired him from Montreal this summer.
Jul 11, 2014, 3:59 PM EDT
Another interesting young forward in Tampa Bay.
- With Dubinsky locked up, Jackets next task is re-signing Johansen 6
- Lightning sign Brenden Morrow for one year 26
- Jackets sign Dubinsky through 2020-21 39
- AHL’s new overtime rules include 3-on-3 play 27
- Report: Avs, O’Reilly likely headed to arbitration 70
- Armstrong lays out what Blues offered KHL-bound Sobotka 15
- Blues re-sign Ott; Sobotka to KHL? 35
- Devils ink Schneider to reported seven-year, $42 million deal 62
- Big money: Toews, Kane sign eight-year, $84 million extensions 170
- Jets can’t let Kane situation fester much longer 57
- Big money: Toews, Kane sign eight-year, $84 million extensions (170)
- Report: Avs, O’Reilly likely headed to arbitration (70)
- Boyle wanted Big Apple after playing in ‘nontraditional hockey markets’ of Florida, California (63)
- Devils ink Schneider to reported seven-year, $42 million deal (62)
- Report: Sidney Crosby will undergo wrist surgery (59)