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New Year's Eve: USA vs. Canada

Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 5:32 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / 2012 World Junior Championships
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2012 World Junior Championships
New Year\'s Eve: USA vs. Canada

Tonight, 8 p.m.
Rexall Place | Edmonton, Alberta
TV: NHL Network, TSN

This is definitely not how the USA head coach Dean Blais envisioned tonight's game shaping up. After consecutive preliminary-round losses to Finland and the Czech Republic, the Americans don't have much to play for other than pride. They round out their opening round with tonight's game vs. Canada at Rexall Place, and the Canadians have already clinched the top spot in their group.

Blais hopes his team rebounds and has a strong showing against their border rivals, but it won't have nearly the build-up that previous meetings in 2011 and 2010 (gold-medal game) generated. The USA's hopes of avoiding the relegation round dissipated last night when Finland rolled over Denmark, meaning the Americans can finish no better than seventh in this year's World Junior.

Scott Wedgewood starts in goal tonight for Canada, according to head coach Don Hay. It would appear that Wedgewood is being handed the No. 1 job and Mark Visentin is the backup goaltender, but Hay has kept his goalie decisions close to the vest. Jack Campbell is the presumed starter for the Americans.

Some CBJ-related tidbits:
-- We haven't heard much about Blue Jackets prospects Lukas Sedlak and Petr Straka so far in this year's tournament, but both were noticeable players in the Czechs win over Team USA. Sedlak was a reliable penalty-killer and Straka played well in limited action - he was ejected in the first period for a major penalty incurred following a massive hit on USA's Derek Forbort.

-- T.J. Tynan played big minutes in the top six for Blais in the loss to the Czechs, and was easily one of the Americans' top players. He will likely be in the same spot tonight against Canada.

-- Another big game for Boone Jenner tonight and the pressure only goes up from here. He's been a spark plug for Canada and his aggressive style of play unnerves opponents. Look for him with Brett Connolly again tonight at 5-on-5 and on the penalty kill.

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