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US Fifth at World Juniors

The United States took a disappointing 5th place finish in this year's World Juniors, and as usual, there's a lot of noise about why the US didn't take home the gold. People can say whatever they want, but there's really only one thing you need to know:

Thomas McCollum vs. Canada: 5 goals allowed on 28 shots
Thomas McCollum vs. Slovakia: 5 goals allowed on 19 shots

Say whatever you will about coaching, or how the team is selected, or any other complaint you can come up with. You can't coach the puck out of your net, and when your goalie only stops 37 out of 47 shots over two games, and forces your team to score 6 goals win, you're going to lose 99 times out of 100. In a short tournament, hot goaltending can take your team a long way, and poor goaltending can kill you. This year, it killed the US.

I'll give the rest of my thoughts in bullet form, since it's easier...

-Some people are also blaming the US defense for playing poorly. They didn't look good against Canada, and I didn't see the Slovakia game, but how bad could they have been if they only gave up 19 shots and McCollum gave up a couple soft goals? That's more than good enough to win.

-Should McCollum have been pulled? In hindsight, yes, because they couldn't have done any worse. I'm not sure I would have pulled him at any point in the Canada game, because bringing a cold goalie into a close game probably wouldn't be wise. Maybe I would have started Unice against Slovakia, but again, that's using hindsight. I can see the argument for starting McCollum again as well.

-Why is it that the people screaming loudest about how not winning the gold is an absolute failure for the US, and the whole system needs to be torn down are the same people that talk about Canada being the greatest hockey nation in the world? Sorry, you can't have both ways. It only proves that these people don't have enough objectivity to make their opinion worthwhile.

-I still don't see how the NTDP-bashing is valid in any way. This year's team took way more CHL players than in the past and look where it got them. Adding a few more plugs like Eric Tangradi, whose biggest contribution to the team was putting his stick in some guys face and getting one of the good players jacked in the face, or Tyler Johnson, who didn't do much of anything, wouldn't have made things any better. One of the big omissions from the roster was John Carlson, and again, using hindsight, he would have been a better choice on D because he couldn't have been any worse, but the seventh defenseman on the US was Blake Kessel, who is not an NTDP alum, so I don't see how that decision is political.

-When trying to wow me with the OHL's goaltending, it's probably not best to cite some kid who needed a career game just to bring his tournament save percentage up to .901. As a general rule, goaltenders peak much later, and it's just hard to be a very good goalie in that age group. That's why you see so many talented young goalies struggle at the college level. I'm not saying some of those CHL goalies might not be great some day, but at 18 or 19, most aren't providing much of a challenge.

-Congrats to Canada on winning another gold medal. I hope the Queen doesn't decide to take it for England when she makes the call on reinstating your parliament later this month.