Flames at 2018 World Juniors: Dube, Canada win gold

Flames prospects won a medal of every colour at this year’s World Junior Championship, culminating with Dillon Dube winning gold as Team Canada’s captain. Linus Lindstrom had an impact in a tight gold-medal game for Sweden, registering an assist and Adam Fox finished his tournament with a bronze medal, though he was held scoreless. 

United States beats Czech Republic 9-3

(This writeup brought to you by Ari.)

When the Czechs beat the Finns in the quarterfinals, it was considered an upset. And considering how the Finns pelted the net with over 50 shots, only to still be knocked out due to an impressive performance, well, that would justify that claim. Since then, though, the Czechs have pretty much been beaten into the ground – and this time, it laid the path for an easy bronze medal for Fox and the United States.

Fox played 20:51 in his final game of the 2018 World Juniors, third in American defencemen ice time. He played 7:50 in the first period, the most out of all Americans, but that was back when the game’s result might still have been in question (the scoring didn’t open until the final seconds of the period). It quickly turned into a rout after that, hence less need for Fox.

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Despite the goal explosion, Fox had no points (there were only three assists across all defencemen, however), though he was on the ice for three American goals, and not out there for any Czech goals against.

Fox finished the tournament with one goal and five points over seven games, the American’s highest-scoring defenceman, and tied for fifth overall. His 20 shots on net were the most out of all American defencemen, and tied for fourth team-wide.

Canada beats Sweden 3-1

In terms of lines, Lindstrom played with Canuck stud prospect Elias Petterson at even strength and on the power play and New Jersey Devils second rounder Jesper Boqvist. As has been the case all tournament, Dube played on Canada’s top line, with Sam Steel and Jordan Kyrou. Both Dube and Lindstrom were used in all situations by their teams, including power plays and killing penalties.

Dube’s first action of the game came on an early Canada power play where he was able to get two pretty dangerous looks near the slot. Significantly, with seven minutes to play in the first period, a relatively short whistle robbed Dube of opening the scoring for Canada. Other than that, not a lot happened in the first for either team. Both Sweden and Canada looked a little frantic at times and neither team was able to generate a ton of high-quality chances. However, Canada was outshot 16-9 and Carter Hart looked solid in the opening frame.

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Early in the second Dube put Canada in front with a fantastic goal. With Timothy Liljegren practically inside his jersey, Dube buried a slick feed from Kyrou and put the Swedes behind for the first time in the tournament. Have a look here:

However, as has been their calling card this tournament, the Swedes tied the game at one on a shorthanded goal off an odd-man rush. Lindstrom got the primary assist on Tim Soderlund’s goal with a smooth zone entry and nice pass, despite (maybe) running some interference on the Canadian defender. Following the Dube goal, the balance of play shifted to Sweden and Canada missed an opportunity to step on their throats.

Here’s a look at the Sweden goal, Lindstrom is the player with the puck in the start of the gif:

The second period ended tied at one, with Dube leading all Canadian forwards in ice time and shots. Sweden out shot Canada 25-18 through two periods and, as such, Carter Hart was easily Canada’s best player heading into the third.

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Sweden came out flying to start the third, getting six of the first seven shots and hitting a post on a point shot. Canada managed to weather the storm and keep the game tied. After both teams hit the post in the third, Canada got a late goal from Tyler Steenbergen to put them in front for good. Unfortunately, the game winner went right through Lindstrom’s legs. Canada added an empty netter and were crowned 2018 World Junior Champions.

Overall, Lindstrom’s cerebral play and ability in the faceoff circle were noticeable in addition to the fact that he played in every situation for Sweden. Lindstrom finished the game with an assist, -2, 16:48 of ice time, and one shot on net. He finished his tournament with three assists, tied for ninth in team scoring. His 11 shots were good for tied for 11th on the team.

For my money, Dube was Canada’s best forward of the night, playing in all situations as well. Dube finished the game with a goal, five shots, even, and 20:30 of ice time (the most of any Canadian forward). His skating and forechecking have been well-publicized before, but I thought his ability to make skilled plays in tight spaces was on display tonight, rounding out a very impressive tournament for Canada’s captain. Fans of Dustin Boyd will remind fans to reign in expectations, but Dillon Dube has certainly impressed in front of a lot of eyeballs this holiday season.

Dube finished his tournament with three goals and five points, tied for ninth in team scoring, while his 30 shots led Team Canada by a fair margin: the Canadian with the second most shots was Drake Batherson, with 19. Dube’s 123:36 was the most any Canadian forward played over the course of the entire World Juniors. And it sure feels like there are bigger things for him right on the horizon.

    • Calgarycandle

      WW–I understand your dislike of GG’s coaching and I think it’s shared by much of FN, to one degree or another. But why pick on Backlund. He gets the hardest defensive assignments night in and night out and does a very credible job of shutting down the top lines. If I’m not mistaken, Kopitar was held off the scoresheet yesterday and he is having a very strong season.

      Dube in a very exciting prospect, but for him to replace Backlund as a rookie is asking an awful lot. Janko certainly seemed to benefit from his AHL year–Dube probably could as well. Monahan, Gaudreau and Tzachuk all came immediately from junior to the NHL, so it’s possible Dube could too. 2018 training camp should tell the story. But trading Backs before we have a known replacement is very risky in my mind.

    • Thunder1

      DD is 175 pds. soaking wet with very low compete level, WW. If he was in for Backs last game, Kopitar would have beat his a$$ all the way to the Corral. You are continuing to get stupider as the season rolls on.

      • Chucky

        Flames say he is 183 and 2″ shorter than Backlund so not obvious that he will not end up with the same strength. Eye test from training camp and WJC does not agree with your comments on compete level. Not sure that the suggestion is a direct replacement for MB with DD.
        Really can’t comment on the intelligence of WW and recognize that he gets on a drum and beats the H out of it but he may have a legitimate point in this case.

        • Thunder1

          Really? Did you watch the tournament? Puck goes in the corners and DD will try his best to get it, but it comes out regularly on the other team’s stick. I’m not saying DD won’t be an NHL’er one day, but to suggest he replaces Backlund next season borders on nonsense. I get it… beating the drum is WW’s shtick, but some of the stuff he’s posting lately demands rebuttal.

      • cberg

        FN is open for all sorts of comments, but that has to be one of the more a**hat comments I’ve heard in a long while. In case you haven’t been watching the world juniors, Dube is very speedy, quick and a monster on the forecheck. In addition he was far and away the best on the team at getting pucks on net and had/contributed to several key goals. He also was a key driver for both offence and defence and captain of the gold medal-winning team. I’m not too worried if he is currently 175 or 185 lbs, they all gain strength after going pro. He’s the kind of player the Flames are going to be fortunate to get into their line-up, the sooner the better.

    • Chucky

      Unless this team can overcome the coaching problems and get into a position to make a playoff run there may be some merit in this suggestion.
      If the Flames can get into a strong playoff position it will require Backlund to have a great last half of the season and he will be fundamental to playoff performance.
      However if they cannot get into a solid playoff position Backlund will be a premium asset in demand by any serious contender. Although it would be sad to see the Flames lose one of the best positional players in the game the long term future does not look good with him.
      It looks like there is no contract extension in the making so he will be testing the free agent market at the end of the year. This is not surprising when you consider that Treliving is known for negotiating team friendly contracts and Gulutzan has repeatedly insulted Backlund (his place is playing against the opposition first line but GG plays Monny when he has the last change).
      Backlund will look for a contract in the 5 to 6 for 5 to 6 and that eats up the cap space provided by Stajan’s retirement. The Flames are going to need cap space with Bennett, Ferland, Tkachuk and Jankowski all requiring significant increases over the next two years. So from a business point of view it is hard to see how he stays past the end of the year.
      The system has Dube (39 points in 27 games this year), Phillips (61 in 41) and Gawdin (73 in 39) sitting in junior. Lindstrom in Sweden, Pribyl (injured) and Lazar. From this group they need to find two centers, IMO Jankowski has good scoring touchproviding a second scoring center. So they are looking for a shutdown center who does not really need to score Lazar or Dube and a third guy who can chip in offensively when needed Gawdin or Phillips.
      The unfortunate conclusion is that Backlund is a trade deadline asset unless he is needed to take a playoff run after which he will sign a huge contract somewhere else.

    • The Beej


      Maybe you should be a fan of the oilers.

      Penciling in a prospect who has no real pro experience and trading away established players at under value.

      I mean Cmon man!

      What you are advocating here is 100% the edmonton oilers way of doing things.

      If you were GM we would be in as bad of shape as the oilers.

  • The GREAT WW

    I’m not 100% convinced that Dube is the answer either……but I am 100% convinced that The Backlund situation needs to be resolved before the trade deadline.

    The fact that he has not been extended yet makes me think that the 2 sides are miles apart.

    The 5X6 or 6X5 numbers that are being floated around on this blog are ludicrous. This could turn into a Stajan situation very quickly…..


      • Kevin R

        Backlunds com parables are pretty easy to spot, the cap is expected to go up to $80 mill, Backlund will easily get Turris kind of money on the open market. Don’t blame him for wanting fair market value on what will probably be his last real multi year deal, he has given us very value ladened contracts in the past. I think the number of $5.0 mill per won’t be the issue but the length will be a grind. Tre is probably sitting at 4 years & backlund probably wants 6 or 7. Hopefully Backlund wants to stay & they settle quick at 5 for $5.0 mill per.

        As for trading him at the TDL is pure folly. No way Tre sells assets if he doesn’t think they have the depth to be immediately filled. A traded unprotected 1st will be the driving force of that. Tre will do anything to keep us close to the playoffs, the closer to the bubble we are = the less chance that pick will be a top 10.
        The only thing I see us maybe selling will be one of our big 4 D & the return will be scoring & probably try to get another 1st back.

        • BlueMoonNigel

          Got to remember that Backlund had a lot of trouble staying healthy during his first few years as a Flame. Does his health again become an issue when he hits the wrong side of 30?

          I think the Stajan analogy is very apt which means that the club could be digging itself into a hole by giving Backlund more than 4 years.

          Tre should be firm on Backlund. Give him bucks or term, not both.

          I’d also think Tre has a pretty good read on Backs, so he should know how committed Backs is to remaining a Flame; there shouldn’t be any need for an expedient deal before the end of the season unless it is to jettison him to a club wanting the window to negotiate with him prior to free agency frenzy.

    • Thunder1

      I agree with that, WW. It’s going to boil down to where the Flames are at come trade deadline. If they have a sniff at it, Backs is gonna’ get his filthy lucre, say 30 million or so for good or for ill. If they falter, then shop him. IMO, the first to go should be Johnny… to whatever East coast squad is willing to give us three first-rounders to see him dangle.

  • freethe flames

    I have tempered expectations of all our prospects who played at the WJ. Fox will likely return to College next year. Valimaka and Dube will turn pro but will need at least a year in the AHL. The Heat could use Gawdwin right now. Phillips is a longer term prospect, ET is going back to Finland for another year, the Swede Lindstrom is a long term prospect. So before we go and trade Back’s lets be be sure that we get a good haul for him.

  • Lets Get Something Clear

    I wasn’t overly impressed by Dube tonight, in spite of his goal. He was most obviously absent on the power play where he seemed to float in the center of the ice but never seemed
    to open up seams for plays. That may be a consequence of too much outside play by the rest of the canadians (their pp was lacklustre all game) or a lack of aggression from Dube.

    • Hockey for life

      I thought dube was one of Canadas best forwards. All over the ice creating plays. A lot of the sports writers on Twitter(non flames writers) stated the same. As for pp he is basically the Monahan of their pp staying in the slot for rebound or a slot shot. That’s how he scored his 2 pp goals.

      • dontcryWOLF

        Let’s admit that we are all afraid Dube is another version of Lazar. At least I am.

        But the I tell myself, all these humans are different humans, and trying to predict how all that diversity will turn out is foolish and pointless.

        Not sure who the guy was who gifted us with Scooby doobie Dube was, but I think the Dube will abide f0e the Calgary Flames for a long time. ..for whatever hunches from a random fan are worth.

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    I just thought of this…. I wonder if Brady Tkachuk, (Boston University, NCAA): Would pull a Jimmy Vesey/Kevin Hayes and Not sign with the team whom drafts him this year… Only to sign with the Flames as a college free agent? To play with his Brother Matt? Now That Would Be Awesome!

    • Grayone

      If only on the Brady Tka idea above!! Great Gold Medal game. So entertaining and fast … we just do not see this type of relentless speed at the pro level, save a very few players.

      Hard to believe that several folks bad mouthed DD as Captain and player. To these old eyes he was focused, highly motivated, not shy one bit to lay on the body and of course great skating ability! I see him as a Stajan replacement pretty darned quickly and with the upside of moving up the lineup both as centre or winger.

      Lindstrom surprised me … I think the Flames have a player there within 3 years. Fox was very impressive … outshone Valimaki imo. Yanks got Bronze but I sure like whole bunch of their players … many good NHL prospects!

      Final note: so many Juniors from Alberta! Great …. the hockey development in the province gotta feel good. All in all a great performance by this well coached Canadian squad! (PS: could Cameron maybe burn the midnight oil to see how Can scored so many power play goals??? It can be done!)