2011 Canadian World Junior Championship roster includes four players from last year’s silver medal squad

It’s not often that the United States can claim the status of “solid favorites” over “scrappy underdogs” in any hockey tournament in which Canada is given a fair chance to compete. Considering the fact that the U.S. managed to win a gold medal in Canada during the 2010 World Junior Championships – and they’ll bring back a bunch of important cogs from that team – it seems like the team might just be the odds-on winners for the 2011 tournament in Buffalo.

(Don’t get lazy though, American hockey fans. Let’s not forget that the Sabres bolster some of their attendance numbers based on the fact that Buffalo is conveniently located close to puck-possessed Canada.)

That being said, taking any group of players with a red maple leaf (sorry Toronto) on their chest is a fool’s errand. Team Canada announced its 22-man 2011 roster today, a group that includes four players who were part of the team that just barely lost to the gold medal winning Americans in overtime.

Forward Brayden Schenn and defensemen Jared Cowen, Ryan Ellis and Calvin de Haan were named Wednesday as part of the 22-man roster that will travel to Buffalo for this year’s World Juniors, which runs Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2011 in Buffalo.

Players, coach Dave Cameron and Hockey Canada officials officially unveiled the team — 13 forwards, seven defenseman and two goalies — Wednesday at a press conference at the MasterCard Center in Etobicoke, Ont.

The roster includes 15 first round draft picks from previous entry drafts and also boasts one player who might just end up the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft: Sean Couturier. Twenty out of the 22 players play in the Canadian Hockey League, with only Jaden Schwartz and Dylan Olsen coming from the NCAA.

Here is the full roster, including their current junior team or college team (and also with the NHL teams that drafted them in parenthesis) via NHL.com.

GOALTENDERS — Olivier Roy, Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL (Oilers); Mark Visentin, Niagara, OHL (Coyotes).

DEFENSEMEN — Tyson Barrie, Kelowna, WHL (Avalanche); Jared Cowen, Spokane, WHL (Senators); Calvin de Haan, Oshawa, OHL (Islanders); Simon Despres, Saint John, QMJHL (Penguins); Ryan Ellis, Windsor, OHL (Predators); Erik Gudbranson, Kingston, OHL (Panthers); Dylan Olsen, Minnesota-Duluth, WCHA (Blackhawks).

FORWARDS — Carter Ashton, Tri-City, WHL (Lightning); Casey Cizikas, Mississauga St. Michael’s, OHL (Islanders); Brett Connolly, Prince George, WHL Lightning; Sean Couturier, Drummondville, QMJHL (2011 Draft eligible); Cody Eakin, Swift Current, WHL (Capitals); Marcus Foligno, Sudbury, OHL (Sabres); Curtis Hamilton, Saskatoon, WHL (Oilers); Quinton Howden, Moose Jaw, WHL (Panthers); Ryan Johansen, Portland, WHL (Blue Jackets); Zack Kassian, Windsor, OHL (Sabres); Louis Leblanc, Montreal, QMJHL (Canadiens); Brayden Schenn, Brandon, WHL (Kings); Jaden Schwartz, Colorado College, WCHA (Blues).

After looking at that roster, I’m not so sure the U.S. should be too cocky. Do you think the favorites will be the defending gold medal winning Americans, the perennial powerhouse from Canada or someone else such as Russia or Sweden? Let us know in the comments.

Vatrano presence: Bruins edge Red Wings in overtime

Frank Vatrano David Krejci

The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.

In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).

Here’s his first goal of the night:

While this is his overtime game-winner:

It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.

The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.

October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.

November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.

Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.

More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.

Crosby roars, Malkin scores in OT for Penguins win

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Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.

Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:

… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.

(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)

Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.

You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.

Fight video: Claude Giroux vs. Nick Leddy


Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.

Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.

You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.

It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.

Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.

Update: The fight may have inspired the Islanders more than the Flyers, as they bested Philly 3-1 on Wednesday.

Carter Hutton gets flipped, stays in game

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Carter Hutton is getting something that might make fellow Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne jealous: goal support.

Still, there was at least one moment where Rinne was likely happy to be on the bench, as Hutton was left flipping during this collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno:

Remarkably, Hutton remained in the game.

If you’re the type who loves adding to your “hockey players are tough” files, put this under the goalies section.

Check out this incredible shot of that moment:

Update: The Predators held off the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-2.