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Canadiens World Championship Update: Kapanen, Guhle, Slafkovsky

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Oliver Kapanen Montreal Canadiens World Championship

Montreal Canadiens prospect Oliver Kapanen is off to a great start at the 2024 World Championship, which is currently taking place in Ostrava and Prague, Czechia.

Kapanen Showing Great Fin(n)ish

Kapanen and Team Finland were shut out in the inaugural game of the tournament, as host Czechia emerged with a hard-fought 1-0 win. The 2021 second-round pick would go on to open the scoring for his country in the following game, an 8-0 drubbing of Great Britain.

The defensive stalwart showed flashes of offensive brilliance throughout the game, culminating with a hat-trick performance for a player who has brought his play in the offensive zone to a new level in the second half of the season. It’s worth noting Kapanen earned seven goals and seven assists in 13 playoff games for Kalpa (Liiga).

The offensive surge is exactly what you want to see from a player who is set to take the next step in his career. Kapanen recently signed a contract with Timra (SHL), a team that happens to employ his father as their general manager. He’s also expected to sign a contract with the Canadiens in the near future, which means he’ll likely be loaned back to the SHL where he can be given ample ice time and developmental opportunities should he fail to earn an NHL job out of camp.

Kapanen followed up his hat-trick performance with a two-goal effort against Norway, once again setting the tone for his team by scoring the game’s opening goal.

Say what you will about the quality of competition at the World Championship (and most of it will be true), but it’s always encouraging to see a prospect maintain a heightened level of play throughout various situations.

Kapanen currently leads the entire tournament with his five goals in three games, though Team Canada forward Connor Bedard has managed to score five goals and one assist to lead the World Championship in overall scoring.

The Canadiens prospect will be back in action on Thursday when Finland faces Austria, a team that pushed one of the tournament favourites to the limit on Tuesday.

Team Canada Stumbles

Canadiens defenceman Kaiden Guhle was given Player Of The Game honours in Team Canada’s ugly 7-6 overtime win against Austria.

Much like the rest of the Canadian lineup, it was not Guhle’s best game from a defensive standpoint.

Regardless, the 22-year-old earned a goal and assist in the win, which saw Austria storm back from a 6-1 deficit to push the game to overtime. With the two-point effort in the bank, Guhle ranks third in tournament scoring among defencemen, with a goal and three assists. He trails only former Norris Trophy winners Erik Karlsson (5 points) and Roman Josi (6 points).

Guhle’s demeanour as he accepted his POTG award tells you all you need to know about the team’s performance. Canada may have won, but they were far from satisfied with the overall effort. Guhle and Team Canada are set to face Norway on Thursday.

Other Montreal Canadiens World Championship Notes

  • Cole Caufield and Team USA have struggled to find results, with their lone win coming against Germany on Saturday. Losses to Sweden and Slovakia have stunned the Americans, who were considered among the favourites to emerge with a gold medal this year. Caufield has had a rather quiet tournament, with two assists in three games.
  • Juraj Slafkovsky has earned an assist in all three games he has played for Slovakia, though his overall intensity has stood out more than his offensive prowess. The 20-year-old winger is slowly yet surely becoming incredibly confident in his own abilities.
  • Vinzenz Rohrer is playing a supporting role for Austria, leading to two assists in three games. Rohrer, a 2022 third-round pick, is fresh off a Swiss League (NL) Championship with the Zurich Lions.

 

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Peter

It is too bad Montembeault didn’t want to go this year as he only played 41 games this season for Montreal.

Greg

He looked tired his last few games this season. Whatever his reasons/the team’s, he’s not there so what can you do except use the next guy.