It was a dominant performance right from the drop of the puck as Canada crushed Kazakhstan 15-0 in World Junior action this afternoon. Kazakhstan, fresh off a 9-0 loss to Germany, continued what certainly will be a forgettable tournament for the country, and have now been outscored 24-0 through two games.
Canada dominated the game at both ends, firing 69 shots, and only giving up 11 as they put on a clinic in puck control, seemingly spending the entire game in the Kazakhstan zone. Canada scored an incredible eight powerplay goals in the game - a World Junior record - including two more by superstar John Tavares, who set a new all time Canadian World Junior powerplay goal mark with six to date. The 15-0 win moves Canada to 2-0 in the tournament so far. After an 8-1 victory over the Czech Republic on Boxing Day, Canada has now outscored their opposition 23-1 to this point in the tournament. The 15-0 score also matched Canada's highest goal total in a shutout victory. They had previously beat France 15-0 in the 2002 World Junior Championships. Their shot total of 69 was also a Canadian World Junior record.
Though fans must be encouraged by the dominant performance by Team Canada, it was hardly an entertaining game. Kazakhstan rarely had the puck, let alone threatened the net, yet because of IIHF rules for deciding ties in round robin play, Canada was forced to continue running up the score to ensure their goal for/against differential was as high as possible. There has been an ongoing debate to limit margin of victory to five goals in the interest of sportsmanship, but so far those suggestions have fallen on deaf ears.
At one point Canadian forward Jamie Benn looked like he might break Mario Lemieux's and Simon Gagne's single game goal scoring record of four when he potted his hat trick goal midway through the second period. He didn't score again for the rest of the game, however, as Canada started to really spread the offense around. Benn's performance still earned him Canadian player of the game though.
John Tavares added two assists to go along with his two goals, giving him seven points in two games, good enough for the tournament lead. It will be interesting to see just how many points Tavares can put up in the tournament. There was some doubt if Tavares would enter this spring's NHL entry draft as the number one ranked player, but Tavares' doubters are rapidly disappearing as the skilled forward continues to deliver.
Next up for Canada will be Germany on Tuesday, followed by a marquee New Year's Eve match-up against a strong U.S. team. The game against the U.S. should be a great battle and will see Canada well prepared to enter medal round play starting on Friday, January 2nd.