Too early to compare teams at Memorial Cup

Portland Winterhawks' Ty Rattie battles against Austyn Hardie of the Halifax Mooseheads during the...

Portland Winterhawks' Ty Rattie battles against Austyn Hardie of the Halifax Mooseheads during the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Saturday May 18, 2013. Al Charest/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:55 PM ET

SASKATOON - Now that everyone has played, the comparisons can begin.

How do the London Knights stack up?

How do all the teams stack up against each other?

Lesson No. 1. Never compare teams on the basis of one or two games.

If it was as simple as that, the read on the 2013 Memorial Cup in Saskatoon would be crystal clear.

Stopping the Halifax Mooseheads offensively is impossible.

The Portland Winterhawks aren’t your typical Western Hockey League team in terms of good defence, goaltending and physical play because it’s all bad.

The Saskatoon Blades are trying to make things difficult but simply aren’t good enough.

And the Knights . . . the Knights are the Knights. They don’t score a ton of goals but they can grind down the opposition. They play good defence and got strong goaltending in their first game of the tournament from Anthony Stolarz.

How does that stack up to beating the Mooseheads because as of right now, they look like the cream of the Cup with the Knights hovering somewhere at No. 2.

That’s mistake No. 1. Never assume because it makes an ‘ass of u and me.’

When the Moosehead and Winterhawks played Saturday, it was billed as a showdown between the two teams with the highest profile in the tournament.

It turned out to be a promotion video on just how good Mooseheads’ Nathan MacKinnon is.

It was supposed to feature the Top 3-ranked prospects in junior hockey.

At the end of the contest MacKinnon stole the show. With that plus-four, three-goal, four-point performance it’s hard to see how anyone can pick anyone else ahead of him. No. 1-ranked prospect Seth Jones showed flashes of brilliance but was disappointing.

The Winterhawks . . . they’d better get a lot better in a hurry especially in net and in their own zone.

As for Halifax, they did score seven goals but also gave up four, including 37 shots. There were times when they were running around in their own zone and when it came to getting the bounces, they got most of them.

Where they better than Portland? In a one-game setting they were.

The Knights aren’t the Winterhawks. When they run into the Mooseheads, MacKinnon and company are going to get a face full of Bo Horvat, Tyler Ferry and Brett Welychka and you’d think a lot less ice to use.

If MacKinnon and the Moosehead are able to dangle and fly the way they did against Portland, then they are without question the best team in this tournament.

Who are the Winterhawks? Are they representative of the play where MacKinnon blew by Jones at the blueline and went on to score?

Or are they representative of Hawk forward Ty Rattie who scored one of the most gorgeous goals you’ll ever see?

“You can’t tell very much from one game,” said Knights’ assistant coach Dylan Hunter. “Everyone has a bad game. Last year we won our opening game then got drilled by Saginaw 6-2. So you don’t know.”

The Knights aren’t goofy. Just because the Winterhawks were plucked by the Mooseheads doesn’t mean that’s the way it’s going to be the rest of the series.

“We aren’t going to judge how good a team is on one game,” Hunter said. “We’ve seen lots of film on both teams and we know they are both really, really good teams. What we’re looking for in a situation like (Saturday night) is how they react to certain things. How they react when they think they’ve gotten a bad call or how they react after taking a lot of penalties or how they react in certain situations.”

The Knights and Saskatoon Blades have something on the other two teams though. They can control the puck along the boards.

Forcing Halifax and Portland to fight for the puck behind their own net is a sure way of preventing them from them from using their speed and offensive ability at the other end.

You can’t score if you don’t have the puck.

So how do they all compare? It’s early but if anyone had to place a bet now, it should be on Halifax or London.

morris.dallacosta@sunmedia.ca


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