Monday Musings: Michael Matheson eyes Canadian juniors | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaMonday Musings: Michael Matheson eyes Canadian juniors

Posted: Monday, December 2, 2013 | 08:00 AM

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Michael Matheson of Boston College in Canadian colours during junior evaluation camp at Lake Placid Olympic Center on Aug. 7. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) Michael Matheson of Boston College in Canadian colours during junior evaluation camp at Lake Placid Olympic Center on Aug. 7. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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This week's Monday musings takes a look at Boston College defenceman Michael Matheson, the Canadian junior selection camp, John Tortorella's return to Madison Square Garden and the impact Brent Burns has had on the San Jose Sharks.

Some Monday morning musings from the NHL and the rest of the hockey world that will prepare you for the upcoming week.

  • Hockey Canada will release its invite list for the Canadian junior selection camp on Monday. The camp begins in Toronto on Dec. 12.
  • The United States Hockey Hall of Fame will induct former U.S. national team player Cindy Curley, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Bill Guerin, Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr., former Michigan State coach Ron Mason and Edmonton Oilers centre Doug Weight in a ceremony in Detroit on Monday.
  • Also on Monday, New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur returns to his hometown to play the Montreal Canadiens. In 68 career starts against the Habs, Brodeur has gone 44-18-6 with nine shutouts, a 1.83 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.

College Kid

Boston College sophomore defenceman Michael Matheson may or may not be included in Hockey Canada's list of invites to the Canadian junior selection camp on Monday, but the 19-year-old from Pointe Claire, Que., has a bright future either way.

The 2012 Florida Panthers first-round draft pick (23rd overall) has tremendous offensive skill. He's a strong skater and puck handler. 

After a slow start this season because, as he said, his focus was on defence and decision making, he's picked up his play and has impressed not only his teammates on the seventh-ranked Eagles, but the Panthers brass, too.

"I think I've been able to make a lot of good strides," he said. "I was a bit rocky and robotic earlier this year.

"But I've worked hard to smooth out those areas. I'm making simpler plays more often instead trying to do too much."

The Panthers also drafted Boston College defenceman Ian McCoshen in the second round last June. He could be play for the U.S. junior team. 

The bilingual Matheson grew up in suburban Montreal in a hockey family. His dad, Rod, played junior B for Pointe Claire and a bit for Concordia University. His sister, Kelly, played prep school hockey and his older brother Kenny plays at Hamilton College. 

Instead of playing junior for Shawinigan, the QMJHL team that drafted Matheson, he opted for Boston College because he felt it would allow him to spend more time in the gym to get bigger and stronger and develop at his pace.

But how did a Montreal kid, who grew up cheering for Saku Koivu and the Montreal Canadiens, choose Boston, the home of the rival Bruins?

"Yeah, I know," he said. "I've stayed loyal to the Canadiens.

"I just hate the Bruins a little less after being exposed to them here."

Every once in while, Matheson and some of his Boston College teammates take the Green Line to see a Bruins game and it certainly was exciting to be around town last year when the Boston advanced to the Stanley Cup title.

The 6-foot-3, 193-pound Matheson, who attended the Canadian junior team's summer camp, doesn't know what to expect when Hockey Canada sends out its invites on Monday.

"Of course, you want to be invited and play for your country," he said. "At the same time, you don't try to make too much out of it.

"I have games to concentrate on with Boston College. My philosophy is to focus on the here and now and the rest will take care of itself."

Smaller Camp

Expect Canadian junior head coach Brent Sutter, who won back-to-back gold medals with Canada in 2005 and 2006, to send out fewer invites to selection camp. In the past, there could be between 35 and 40 invitees. This time around, there will be between 25 and 30.

This will allow Sutter to get down to business quicker at the week-long selection camp to trim down the camp to a final roster size of two goalies, seven defence and 13 forwards.

Teenage NHLers

There are five teenage NHLers eligible for the Canadian world junior team. While Sutter can add players right up until camp opens in Toronto on Dec. 12, the expectations are that only Minnesota Wild defenceman Mathew Dumba will be made available.

Colorado Avalanche centre Nathan MacKinnon, Calgary Flames centre Sean Monahan, Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson and Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly have all played regularly in the NHL.

Dumba, meanwhile, has played in only 13 of the Wild's 28 games. He was cut at the last two Canadian junior selection camps.

Vigneault vs. Tortorella

Prior to John Tortorella's return on Saturday to Manhattan to meet the Rangers, a team he coached for four-plus seasons, he entered Madison Square Garden at the same time as the guy he was replaced by: Alain Vigneault.

Tortorella, of course, replaced Vigneault behind the bench of the Vancouver Canucks. The two walked up the MSG ramp to ice level together, talked about their respective transitions to their new teams and some of their players.

"Well, we came up the ramp together today and we reached the top at the same time," Vigneault joked. "John, I'm sure, loved his time in New York like I loved my time in Vancouver.

"I think we're both trying to do the same thing - get our hockey teams to win."

The Rangers won 5-2, but this story is far from over. There still is plenty to figure out before the rematch in Vancouver on Apr. 1. 

The Rangers have overcome their 3-6-0 road trip to start the season and currently occupy a playoff spot in the weak Metropolitan Division. The Canucks have been up-and-down and need a good run to jump back into a playoff spot in the difficult Western Conference.

Canadian Olympic Goalies

Each week, we rank the top contenders for the three goalkeeper spots on the Canadian Olympic team based on their play to date:

1. Corey Crawford (Chicago) - The Stanley Cup winner has a four-game win streak and has stopped 110 of 116 shots during this stretch.

2. Carey Price (Montreal) - He also has four wins in a row with only seven goals against during this impressive run.

3. Josh Harding (Minnesota) - The long shot returned from his leg injury yet, despite yielding only four goals in two games, he lost both starts - the second in a shootout.

4. Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh) - He struggled against the Toronto Maple Leafs last Wednesday, then battled back for a 21-save shutout two nights later against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

5. Braden Holtby (Washington) - After a slow start, Holtby now has 12 wins and has his save percentage up to .925. 

By The Numbers

2 - Or fewer goals surrendered by Rangers rookie goalie Cam Talbot of Caledonia, Ont., in each of his first seven NHL starts. Talbot is the first goalie since Frank Brimsek accomplished the feat in his first 12 stars with the 1938-39 Bruins.

9 - Times in 27 outings the Senators have scored first this season. Only Florida (eight), Carolina (seven) and the Buffalo Sabres (five) have scored first in fewer games this fall.

21 - Assists in November for Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin. The last player to register that many assists in a calendar month was Wayne Gretzky for the Los Angeles Kings in January 1996.

1,178-426-682-1,108 - Games played, goals, assists and points - all franchise records - for Daniel Alfredsson during his time with the Senators.

12-0-1 - Record for the San Jose Sharks with Brent Burns in the lineup.

6-3-4 - The Sharks' record when Burns was sidelined with a facial injury.

Follow Tim Wharnsby on Twitter @WharnsbyCBC

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