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.
Aug 21, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
He’ll have a battle to make the NHL next season.
Aug 21, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
He died in the plane crash that killed the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team in 2011.
Aug 21, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT
The NHL changed the process for the Draft Lottery on Wednesday.
Aug 21, 2014, 7:33 PM EDT
We know it’s not surprising, but just go along with it.
Aug 21, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT
A Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe in separate years is a nice legacy.
Aug 21, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT
No one scored more Pens goals than he did the past three seasons.
Aug 21, 2014, 4:08 PM EDT
Call it an audition if you want.
Aug 21, 2014, 2:39 PM EDT
“He has instructed me to do all I can to facilitate a return to the Twin Cities.”
Aug 21, 2014, 2:04 PM EDT
He was quite good.
Aug 21, 2014, 1:11 PM EDT
“Nor is he very smart to have made untrue defamatory statements such as these.”
Aug 21, 2014, 12:32 PM EDT
“I talked with Todd today, and he never mentioned anything about captains or assistant captains.”
Aug 21, 2014, 11:47 AM EDT
All the first-time NHL head coach has to do is get Pittsburgh to the promised land. No biggie.
Aug 21, 2014, 10:40 AM EDT
Or until a successor is found.
Aug 21, 2014, 10:01 AM EDT
The 23-year-old defenseman may get a real shot this season.
Aug 21, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
They were teammates in Calgary for two seasons.
Aug 21, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
The pressure is on Sid and Geno now after a summer of change.
Aug 20, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
And it was all The Great One’s idea.
Aug 20, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
He can be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Aug 20, 2014, 9:02 PM EDT
Recovery from offseason wrist surgery put things in doubt.
Aug 20, 2014, 7:55 PM EDT
He missed most of last season with a torn ACL.
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