But three games into tournament play, as expected from the Vegas side, Erik Brannstrom and Cody Glass are putting on shows for their respective countries of Sweden and Canada.
Canada, as expected, has dominated. The host nation is 3-0 and has outscored opponents 22-3. Yes, 22 goals in three games. Fourteen (that’s a 1 followed by a 4) came in the opening two-touchdown rout of Denmark.
Glass had four assists in that victory. He centered the top line with Max Comtois (four goals) and Owen Tippett (two goals) on Dec. 26. The next night in a 3-2 victory over Switzerland, Glass scored the game’s opening goal 36 seconds in. He was held off the scoresheet in Canada’s 5-1 win Saturday against the Czech Republic.
“I know I’m a playmaker,” Glass told The Canadian Press. “[Comtois and Tippett] can finish, so if I can get them in the right areas, they’re going to bury it.”
A friendly reminder that playmaking is what Glass does on a regular basis for Portland of the WHL. Glass has 54 points (12 goals, 42 assists) in just 26 games this season for the Winterhawks. He’s surely on pace to shatter his 102-point campaign from last season.
“He makes everybody better,” said Comtois, the captain of Team Canada. “He can find Tippett and me pretty easily. He got a couple of huge passes for us since we started playing together. He’s a really good player and I have a lot of fun playing with him.”
Glass is also good at making other types of assists, too: the kind-hearted ones.
Meanwhile, over at another potential favorite to win this tournament, there’s that 19-year-old defenseman up to his old tricks again.
What in the ever-loving hell is this sorcery?
Brannstrom has scored a goal in every game this tournament; he has four in three games — both goals in the 2-1 opening win against Finland; one more the next night in the 5-2 win against Slovakia; and that absurd wizardry against the United States from above on Saturday.
That goal gave Sweden a 4-0 lead against the good ol’ US of A at the 2:34 mark of the third period. Then Ryan Poehling happened. The 2017 first-round pick by the Canadiens scored four unanswered goals in a span of 10:03 to send the game to overtime. Adam Boqvist scored the winner at 8:52 of overtime for the 5-4 Swede victory.
Canada and Sweden, as fate would have it, are atop their respective groups. Canada can clinch Group A with a win or overtime loss against Russia on Monday, and Sweden is likely to clinch Group B unless it somehow loses to Kazakhstan on Monday.
We’re currently on a crash course for a Sweden-Canada final barring anything catastrophic. Glass vs. Brannstrom for all the Vegas marbles. Make it so, hockey gods.