Imagine if all the players in the NHL were lightweight and fast, and had great flow (see, Carl Hagelin). That's what I was thinking as I watched the opening game of the Women's Worlds, USA vs Canada. Strip away some of the more brutal aspects of the sport, and you get a game of skill and finesse. You get women's hockey.
There are only two differences in the rules for women's hockey: they must wear full cages or face masks, and full-body checking can be assessed at the discretion of the referee for a 2' penalty. So, you don't see fighting or a lot of heavy hitting, and you won't miss it that much. They can still get physical, and at the world level, the women are playing a very dynamic and exciting game.
Don't get me wrong. I like a hockey fight as much as the next guy, and the NHL can keep their tradition of fisticuffs, and Rule 56. But when you take away that option, and you don't have any goons or instigators on the ice, a more refined game of skating, passing, and stick handling emerges.
At 1:20 in the above video, Team USA Brianna Decker scores off a feed from Megan Bozek, in such an epic fashion that you would think it was a Malkin & Crosby play. They had to be creative because it's not easy getting one past Team Canada Goaltender Szabados.
Marvin scores early in the third period, making it 2-0 for the win, and an 18-save shutout for Goaltender Nicole Hensley.
This is a great win for Team USA, considering that they did not have a training camp, and Team Canada did. They must be riding high on emotion after finally reaching a deal with USA Hockey this week. I look forward to watching the rest of the tournament. Games are being broadcast on the NHL Network, and also live streaming at NHL.com. You can also get news and stats by downloading the IIHF app from your app store.