Ask any coach what he wants out of a depth player, and he'll say, "Make the most of opportunity."
Tough to classify such a limited audition as a star-making turn, but it was exactly the performance he needed to prove he deserves a larger role.
"He came with the right attitude, saying he wanted to do whatever we asked him to do," Team Canada coach
Although Tavares is the most explosive offensive force in junior hockey, the thinking has been that, in a tournament dominated by 19-year-olds, it's best to expose him slowly. But with the Canadians struggling to generate offense five-on-five, you have to believe that his chance will come Saturday against Sweden, possibly on the first line alongside
The third overall pick in 2007 (Phoenix), Turris was an easy choice as Canada's player of the game on Thursday, thanks to his pair of power play goals in a 2-0 win over Slovakia, but he's not getting a lot of help out there. While Turris found his legs after a quiet game against the Czechs, his linemates,
If Hartsburg isn't quite ready to thrust Tavares into that role, he might want to give him some even-strength minutes alongside power play mates
After two games, it appears that Hartsburg is committed to going with a short bench. That's fine, but if he's going to roll that way, he needs to be sure to give the ice to the players who earn it. At this point, Tavares is one of those players.
If there were any doubts about defender
After two shutout victories, it looks as though Canada's strength lies, as usual, in the net. What makes things interesting is that the whitewashings were applied by different goalies. Kings prospect
Believe this: it won't get beyond the talking stage. Barring injury or a catastrophic meltdown, there's almost no chance that Mason will see the ice again. Bernier will get the start against Sweden on Saturday, and a win in that game gives Canada a bye into the medal round. Since that semifinal contest won't take place until next Friday, it's inconceivable that Hartsburg will want his No. 1 goalie to go into it after six days of rest. And make no mistake: Bernier is the No. 1. That means he'll be between the pipes for what should be a meaningless game on New Year's Eve against Denmark, and Mason can look forward to telling his grandkids that he never was scored upon at the WJC.
The Slovaks may be icing their worst WJC lineup to date, but a pair of undrafted defensemen are managing to catch the attention of the talent hounds on hand:
If I'm Hartsburg, I take
The next time you're inclined to criticize the officiating in the NHL, stop down and work in a couple of international games. It won't take long to realize just how good we have it over here.