Dec 20, 2012, 9:50 AM EST
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.
Dec 11, 2013, 5:20 PM EST
Only five others have done it before.
Dec 11, 2013, 4:45 PM EST
Petr Mrazek called up from the AHL.
Dec 11, 2013, 4:33 PM EST
It wasn’t plywood. Come on, people.
Dec 11, 2013, 3:55 PM EST
Injury is “coming along slower than we anticipated,” according to coach Noel.
Dec 11, 2013, 3:30 PM EST
“This is not a full body check in which contact to the head was unavoidable,” ruled Brendan Shanahan.
Dec 11, 2013, 3:18 PM EST
Chicago is once again leading the NHL in attendance.
Dec 11, 2013, 2:19 PM EST
Tough call for Glen Sather.
Dec 11, 2013, 2:07 PM EST
All the latest from the crease…
Dec 11, 2013, 1:25 PM EST
37.1 per game, to be exact.
Dec 11, 2013, 1:13 PM EST
Veteran winger might require surgery.
The Chip ‘n’ Chase: Outrage over hockey violence, Gary Bettman is a happy man, Darryl Sutter is awesome, and more!
Dec 11, 2013, 12:59 PM EST
Also, has John Tortorella really changed?
Dec 11, 2013, 12:41 PM EST
He’ll undergo tests when the team returns to Detroit.
Dec 11, 2013, 12:21 PM EST
No word yet if permission has been granted.
Dec 11, 2013, 12:05 PM EST
Former Devils alternate captain speaks his mind.
Dec 11, 2013, 11:47 AM EST
Leaves the AHL as its leading scorer.
Dec 11, 2013, 11:28 AM EST
Morgan Rielly to follow?
Dec 11, 2013, 11:15 AM EST
It’s been quite the goalie carousel since 2010.
Dec 11, 2013, 10:59 AM EST
Minnesota has just five wins from 14 games away from Xcel this season.
Dec 11, 2013, 10:45 AM EST
He’d be a huge get for Team Sweden.
Dec 11, 2013, 10:24 AM EST
His job might be safe despite the team’s struggles.
- Cowen gets two-game suspension for hit on Girgensons 10
- Rangers must consider Callahan’s injury history in contract talks 12
- The Chip ‘n’ Chase: Outrage over hockey violence, Gary Bettman is a happy man, Darryl Sutter is awesome, and more! 24
- Report: Isles coach Capuano not seen as problem 11
- Rivalry Night on NBCSN: Flyers challenge top-ranked Blackhawks 17
- Update: Ryan Callahan out 4-6 weeks with MCL sprain 15
- Four goals: Ovechkin wills Caps to stunning shootout win vs. Bolts 62
- Bettman: No decision on expansion, but they’re listening 13
- Neal admits kneeing Marchand was ‘not the smartest decision’ 78
- Leafs captain Phaneuf suspended two games for boarding 37
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty (182)
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head (156)
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ (138)
- Pens put Orpik on IR (132)
- Orpik suffers from concussion, including memory loss (118)