World Championship day 2: Backlund the leader and more Monahan

Martin Rose

With Sven Baertschi done for the tournament, day two saw only three Flames in action - but they all had great days.

All relevant countries were in action today except for the Czech Republic, which means Jiri Hudler got to take a breather and hang out and do whatever it is hockey players get to do on non-game days at tournaments.

Team Sweden and Mikael Backlund

Bad news: Jay Feaster seemed to hate Backlund for no apparent reason and Bob Hartley thought of him as a fourth liner at one point in the season.

Good news: It turns out, Mikael Backlund is actually a very, very, very good hockey player. Who knew?

Backlund wore an "A" with the Flames this season. Backlund is wearing an "A" for Sweden this tournament.

He was also named Sweden's player of the game after he got five shots on net, the most out of all Swedes, and scored two goals as Sweden defeated the Danes 3-0. He did all this in 15:04 of ice time, fifth out of all Swedish forwards. Both of Backlund's goals came in the first period, when he had four shots on net.

Backlund kind of fell off the radar a bit when he missed the Flames' final five games due to a hand injury, and other exciting people like Johnny Gaudreau kind of took the attention. This is a reminder that Mikael Backlund rules and don't you ever forget it.

Team Canada and Sean Monahan

Bad news: Monahan saw the second least amount of ice out of all Canadian forwards.

Good news: That means Monahan has won the fight with Mark Scheifele for the right to be Canada's fourth line centre - at least for now.

Monahan got 9:18 of ice time over 14 shifts compared to Scheifele's 2:20 over three shifts. Even better, Monahan played most of his minutes in the third period: 4:39, almost the same amount he played in the first two periods combined. Canada came alive in the third period, scoring three goals as they beat Team Slovakia 4-1.

This bodes well for Monahan: should Team Canada add an extra forward, he likely won't be scratched. Furthermore, he's getting more of a regular shift now. If this keeps up, Monahan may even get more ice time as the tournament increases; although, for now, to have moved from 13th forward to fourth line centre is a great improvement.

Although Monahan had no shots on net this game, he was on the ice for two of Canada's goals, both Joel Ward's: one in the first period, and one in the third. His other linemate, at least for now, appears to be Jonathan Huberdeau.

Monahan was also 60% on faceoffs, winning six of 10.

Team USA and Johnny Gaudreau

Bad news: Gaudreau went pointless in Team USA's tight 3-2 victory over the Swiss.

Good news: He's still pretty awesome.

Just because the puck never went in the net for Gaudreau - or for one of the recipients of his passes - doesn't mean he didn't play outstandingly well yet again. The young forward was impressive for the Americans, receiving the fifth most ice time out of all their forwards with 16:08, and getting three shots on net: a tie for third, behind only Craig Smith and Jeff Petry, who had four each.

He's not going to put up points every game, but this was also just his second game in a tournament with fully grown men competing. He's still a key cog of this young American team, and man, he's going to be quite the player for both them and Calgary.

Team Switzerland and Sven Baertschi

Bad news: Sven Baertschi is out for the tournament with a fractured rib, suffered in yesterday's game against the Russians.

Worse news: The kid just can't catch a break. He has an okay start to the season, lands in the coach's dog house. He lands in the coach's dog house, he gets sent down. He gets sent down, it takes him five games to score. He's still one of the Flames' best, most talented prospects, but this is just yet another event in a long line of bad events that must be frustrating for him.

This is the third international tournament in a row Baertschi has been unable to complete due to injury. In his final World Juniors eligibility, he was concussed in the round robin. Nagging NHL injuries kept him off the World Championship roster last season. This time, it's a fractured rib after just seven minutes of ice time.

To make matters worse, Brad Treliving is there as one of Canada's AGMs, and this was going to be Baertschi's first chance to really impress him. Now that's gone. An injury isn't the end of the world, and there's no reason to think Baertschi won't be ready to participate in Calgary's training camps, but this is yet another misfortune in a long line of misfortunes on the year, and no matter how good he is, that can't be good for his mentality.

Hopefully he'll be able to put this year behind him and come back for a good 2014-15 campaign.

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