A Leafs Fan’s Guide to the World Cup of Hockey

Are you a Leafs fan? You should be watching the World Cup of Hockey; it was fun to make fun of it first- -I mean it still is fun to make fun of, there are two teams that are just made up- But I’ve seen a lot of people going “oh, I’m just so not interested in this.” No one cares. I mean, by all means, feel free to not to enjoy the hockey right in front of you. But if you’re a Leafs fan, you should be watching this thing I mean obviously it’s in Toronto, but more importantly the Leafs have a bunch of players involved, and they’re actually pretty interesting Let’s start with Group A. Team Europe! …was supposed to have Freddy Andersen And we were gonna get to see how awesome he is and then he got hurt… so that sucks. All right, that’s not a very good start. Okay, let’s go to Team USA, Phil Kess- no he’s not on Team USA, he’s not on the Leafs any more either. James van Riemsdyk is on Team USA and he should be very interesting to Leafs fans because Remember that guy?! Yeah, he hasn’t played since the winter because of an injury. If you’re a Leaf fan you’re gonna want to see how he plays with elite pl- Okay, Team USA you want to see how he plays with pretty good players. You want to see if he’s lost a step, you want to see if he’s made a comeback from that injury, because if the Leafs are gonna take a step forward this year, they need JVR to be JVR. He’s like one of the oldest guys in the team now. That being said, JVR has to earn his playing time, because John Tortorella didn’t even put him in the roster for all of the United States pre-tournament games so far. Then again, he also benched Max Pacioretty so that might mean JVR’s awesome? And I mean Canada sat Sidney Crosby, so you can’t read too much into that. If we’re talking about JVR as one of the oldest guys on the Leafs, Team Czech Republic has TWO Leafs. Roman Polak, yeah, he’s back, and Milan Michalek, Yeah, he’s he’s still there. Now you want to talk about how hurtin’ Team Czech Republic is right now, how unlikely it is that they’ll win gold, they have two guys on their team who might not even make the Leafs. According to sportsnet.ca, Roman Polak is 237 pounds, making him the heaviest defender on Team Czech Republic by over 25 pounds. So he’s big, he’s tough, he’s strong I’ve said this for a while now I think he’s a little bit underrated offensively, but we know the weakness there- the guy might get walked. It’ll be interesting to see how this tournament affects Polak heading into the season because unlike a lot of the Leafs, Polak has had the shortest off-season by far. Polak got traded to the Sharks And then the Sharks made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, so Polak’s season didn’t end until mid-June, and now here we are in mid-September and he’s already back at it. While some players have had like four-plus months to get stronger, get better, and heal their wounds, Polak’s had like two. At thirty years old, he’s not a dinosaur, But you also don’t bounce back like a rubber band. Now Milan Michalek is interesting to me because if you take away all his injuries, I want to know how good he can be for the Leafs. And at 31 years old he can be a mentor to some of the younger guys on the team who are supposed to be prolific goalscorers in their career- Milan Michalek has been that. So I’ve kind of taken pencil and paper and tried to figure out who the Leafs are gonna have on their opening night roster; Milan Michalek, in the World Cup of Hockey if he really impresses, can help his case. Moving on to Team Canada, ahhh… Nobody. Actually they have the coach, So not quite nobody. Babcock comes into Leafs camp like “All right, “So you scrubs finished in last place, and a lot of those guys didn’t even come back so you’re even younger,” “I just coached Team Canada, “so all you’re gonna have to do is uh, play like them.” Easier said than done Babs. So, so far I haven’t got a great job selling the World Cup of Hockey to Leafs fans, but that’s just Group A. Group B is the money pool. Because Team Finland has Leo Komarov- Oh, do I have your attention? Now, I am really interested to see how Leo is used and how he responds to how he is used. Because for most of his career, he’s been a mucker, a grinder, a pest, and we’ve seen that he can play first line, We’ve seen it internationally on occasion, we saw it in the KHL, and this past year with the Leafs He was on the top line- HE WAS AN ALL-STAR, but that’s probably not the plan with Team Finland And that’s probably not the plan long-term with the Leafs either, is it? You would hope, not far down the road, the Leafs get offensive weapons that are prominent and can take over that role, Nylander, Marner, maybe some of the guys who are on the Marlies last year, and Komarov can go back to what he was doing before- BEING THE WORST If you’re playing against him, that is. Also in Group B and perhaps the Leafs player who is gonna play the exact same role in the World Cup of Hockey as he is gonna play with the Leafs, Jhonas Enroth. Because he’s Team Sweden’s backup goalie, or one of them, I want to see how he does coming off of the bench. We’ve already seen in a pre-tournament game, made some excellent saves, help keep Sweden in it, And then I’ll add some not-so-good ones But if you want a great fun-loving way to look at Jhonas Enroth, every save he makes you go “Hey, That’s our backup goalie.” Every save he doesn’t make you go, yeah, well we’re paying him 750 grand And he has the 80th highest cap hit among goalies in the NHL. A league that doesn’t even have 80 goalies… That’s pretty good. And now we get to players we’ve never even seen before, Nikita Zaitsev on Team Russia. Okay, maybe you saw him play at the World Cup or something like that, unless you’re a hardcore KHL fan, you know next to nothing about this guy other than you’ve been told to be excited. Now you get to see what the big deal is, and it’s especially important for him because Russia, what’s their weakness? Well, they got Bobrovksy, Varlamov and Vasilevskiy in net, so it ain’t goaltending. Their forwards, I mean when was the last time Russia had a weak group of forwards, come on. Allow me to read the list of Russian defensemen, Alexei Emelin, Dmitry Kulikov, Alexei Marchenko, Andrei Markov, Nikita Nesterov, Dmitry Orlov, Nikita Zaitsev. Now, seems to me that if they put him in the lineup, they actually dress the guy, Nikita Zaitsev could play a prominent role for Russia. I mean, Andrei Markov’s still got some skill in the tank, but he’s 37 man. Zaitsev’s not even the youngest defender they have, he’s 24. He’s one of three 24- year-olds on Russia’s d-core and Russia also has a 23-year-old. So as a Leafs fan, I’m really hoping to see Zaitsev shine, but as a Leafs fan I’m also hoping they put him in the lineup in the first place. So maybe if you’re watching one of their games and they don’t have Zaitsev dressed, you’re cheering for Russia to suck. Last but not least, the team that I’m cheering for, and the second team with two Leafs on it, Team North America, the young guns. So I talked about Zaitsev as a guy you haven’t seen before, Team North America has Morgan Rielly! You’ve seen that guy before. You’ve already seen him in the pre-tournament, you’ve already seen him flying out there with all the other guys on that team who are flying out there, and you’ve already seen him contributing offensively. You’ve also seen him standing in the crease looking frustrated after the other team has scored a goal, but WHATEVER, North America has won both their pre-tournament games, *against Europe*, but but don’t don’t just who cares they won. No one needs the details, a W’s a W. But you know what I’ve heard so much of this season, or it’s just been whispered so far, but you know it’s gonna pick up; Who is the Leafs’ captain gonna be this season? And a name that has been bandied about a lot is Morgan Rielly. He better not only play a prominent role for Team North America, but he’s got to show his leadership. We know North America is not gonna have trouble scoring goals, we know North America is gonna be flying out there; Rielly’s got to be responsible defensively. And when a puck or two does find its way behind him and into the back of the net, he’s got to have better body language, can’t just be “Ughh”, defeated, which we’ve seen a few times. Coming from a guy who whenever he gets a negative tweet he’s like “WHAT?!” And now last, a player we have definitely not seen before, Auston Matthews. Now this has got to be such a trip for him because one, it’s in Toronto, so it’s gonna be a little *mwah*, taste of what to expect so I want to see how he handles the pressure in the spotlight. But think about this, even though Team Europe isn’t projected to do that well in the World Cup of Hockey, look at their roster up and down, It’s gotta be one of the best teams that Matthews has ever faced. And if we assume that every other team in the tournament is better than Team some-of-Europe, the opponents from Matthews are only gonna get tougher and tougher Oh, you’re supposed to be a two-way Anze Kopitar-type player? Well, have fun shadowing ANZE KOPITAR. Huh, you passed that test, congrats, HERE’S OVECHKIN! Whether it’s the Swiss League, World Juniors, or World Championships, Matthews has never seen anything like that energy drink-fueled Russian mini-bus. On the other hand, Matthews has also never played on a team this good. McDavid, MacKinnon, Gaudreau, Scheifele, Galchenyuk, look at that team of young little assassins. And where this becomes a slightly bad thing, is then… …he’s gonna be playing with the Leafs. Who might have a bunch of those, but they’re not quite there yet, are they. So I guess in terms of what to watch at the tournament, for Matthews, I’m gonna set my expectations low, and basically hope that he fits in on Team North America, and can handle the pressure of Toronto. Because I think the hardest part for him comes after, when he’s expected to be the cornerstone of a franchise. So, as a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, what are you looking for in this year’s World Cup of Hockey? What team are you gonna be watching the closest and what player are you most interested in? So that is it for this one, thank you very much for watching, click like if you liked this video, click subscribe if you really liked it, tell all your friends, Iggy come back, you want to be in the video? No? Alright, he’s going to watch the World Cup of Hockey- IGGY! I LOVE YOU!

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