With a few games in the books, now's a good time to check in on the Bruins prospects representing their country at the 2014 World Junior Championship...
Matthew Grzelcyk - USA
The tournament has been a triumph for USA thus far. Through three games, USA is a perfect 3-0-0-0 with 9 points (tops in Group A) and are outscoring the opposition 19-4. Grzelcyk is partially responsible for those scoring numbers in both ends.
Playing on the top pairing, Grzelcyk is seeing big minutes at even strength and thus far, he's looked very steady. His real test comes Tuesday against Canada, though. None of the forwards he's faced thus far are on the same level as the Canadians. Offensively, though, what more can be said? He's quarterbacking the top unit of a power play that has scored at will. Through three games, he's got two goals and four assists for six points, tied for third in the tournament thus far. It should be noted that in the first half of Grzelcyk's season at BU, he's managed eight points. Expect him to eclipse that before the tournament wraps up.
Up next for the Americans is a game against Canada. A win would give USA a bye as the winner of Group A, but they won't finish any lower than second so you can expect to see them in the knockout stage.
Peter Cehlarik - Slovakia
Slovakia's played only twice, a loss to the US and a big win over Germany. The win was so big, in fact, that they've already surpassed last year's goal total in the group stage.
Cehlarik's played decently through two, posting a 0-3-3 line with five shots. I was able to see him play for the first time against the United States and liked what I saw, particularly his hands and his ability to play in traffic. He set up a Slovakia power play goal by cutting through the US' defense, which was very lovely.
Slovakia will play Canada today and one would have to imagine that will be a loss for Cehlarik's team. Although, Canada didn't have tremendous luck in losing to Czech Republic so Slovakia could pull another upset, but that's unlikely. We could very well end up with a Slovakia/Czech Republic game on Tuesday with third place and elimination on the line. How cool would that be?
Linus Arnesson - Sweden
Sweden was expected to dominate this tournament as one of the favorites to win it all. Through three, I wouldn't exactly describe their performances as such. Winning 5-3 over Switzerland and 4-2 is very good, however, and the points are what's most important. Sunday's 10-0 drubbing of Norway was more to the lofty expectations.
Because Group B's games haven't been televised, I can't offer much of an opinion on Arnesson's play. I can offer some stats, such as zero points and three shots; that's what he's contributed through Sweden's first three games. Now that doesn't tell the entire story, Arnesson's best offensive contributions come from starting the offensive rush, more than finishing.
His primary responsibility, also, is to defend. Sweden has a lot of offensive weapons, including the top two scorers in the tournament thus far, Wennberg and Forsberg. Arnesson's chief responsibility is keeping the puck out. Through three games, Sweden's allowed five goals, so it's all going to plan on that end.
Nine points and three regulation wins is very impressive, as is the 19-5 goal differential. The only problem, though, is that Russia is 2-0 with six points and a 18-1 goal differential in one less game. First place in Group B will most likely be decided when Russia and Sweden meet on Tuesday, which is shaping up to be a huge day.