Best yet to come

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:04 AM ET

LEKSAND, Sweden -- The general feeling among observers at the 2007 world junior is the hard part to watch is over.

One aspect of this year's championship is the lack of a star attraction. There are plenty of talented players with bright futures -- Jonathan Toews of Canada, Patrick Kane of the United States, Nicklas Backstrom of Sweden and Alexei Cherepanov of Russia, among others -- who come to mind.

But there are none on the level of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Dion Phaneuf, who have played in the world junior in recent years.

"We've been spoiled the past few years," Dallas Stars director of amateur scouting Tim Bernhardt said. "I think that was more abnormal and we are back to normal. The games usually are fairly flat until the medal round."

The hockey has not been overly invigorating but there has been a refreshing wrinkle, with Germany winning twice and Belarus once in the round-robin.

DAY OFF NEEDED

The Canadian players had a day off yesterday and stayed at their hotel, relaxing and taking part in bonding exercises in the afternoon. Coach Craig Hartsburg planned to have a video session after dinner, he did not want the players at the rink.

"Let them get away from it," Hartsburg said. "They need it. It's a very intense, emotional tournament."


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