Groulx not least bit concerned with McDavid's lack of offence
Canada's Connor McDavid tries to reach a loose puck over Slovakian goaltender David Okolicany while being checked by Matus Holenda during the 2015 World Junior Championship on December 26, 2014 at the Bell Centre in Montreal. (JOHANY JUTRAS /QMI Agency)
About the last thing Benoit Groulx feels when he looks at Connor McDavid’s stats line is concern.
McDavid didn’t have a point in Canada’s first game of the 2015 World Junior Championship, an 8-0 victory against Slovakia Friday night.
“He had chances,” Groulx, Canada’s head coach, said. “If we are honest with him, he should have at least goal a game. He has had some unbelievable chances.
“He wants to do good. It is a matter for him, I think, to relax.
“We have to understand he has been sidelined for 5-6 weeks and coming back in a tournament like this is not easy. I am not worried at all.”
Canada plays Germany Saturday night at the Bell Centre and Groulx said he has no plans to change his lines. So McDavid, who was not made available to reporters Saturday morning, again will be between captain Curtis Lazar and Nick Ritchie.
Against Slovakia, the 17-year-old McDavid had a team-high six shots on goal and was 50% in the faceoff circle, winning six of 12 draws. It was his first official game since he suffered a broken bone in his right hand during a game on Nov. 11 with the Erie Otters, though he was able to work out some rust in a couple of exhibition games for Canada.
Similar to most players who are on another level, McDavid carries a lot on his shoulders. Adding to the matter is the scrutiny involving McDavid and United States centre Jack Eichel, who is the only player who could knock McDavid from the No. 1 spot in the NHL draft next June.
“The big story of this tournament is McDavid and Eichel, and we all know what kind of player (McDavid) is and the expectations he has for himself are big,” Canadian forward Robby Fabbri said.
“When he has a game like last night where he had all those chances but nothing went in, it is tough for any player. He sets his goals high and when he does not reach them he is frustrated.”
“If he does not get the amount of points he wants, he thinks he does not play that great sometimes, but he plays great every night.”
Goalie Eric Comrie will start against Germany, which will play its first game of the tournament. Comrie, apparently, is not the chatterbox that fellow netminder Zach Fucale is.
“Eric can talk a lot, but sometimes Zach is the guy who kind of sometimes you have to tell him to be quiet,” defenceman Madison Bowey said with a smile.
Against Germany in the history of the world junior, Canada is 12-0 and has outscored the Germans 67-18. At the 2014 world junior in Sweden, Canada thumped Germany 7-2.
“They are going on the forecheck and then they do (what) many Euro teams (try to do) — they try to clog you in the neutral zone and try to create turnovers,” Groulx said.
“We have to play our game, bring speed in the neutral zone. (Against Slovakia) we managed the puck well and we have to keep that going.”