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Team Canada's Brayden Point, left, Connor McDavid, centre, and Robby Fabbri look on prior to having their official photograph taken in Montreal, Thursday, December 25, 2014.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

On the strength of two competitive viewings, the most-discussed right hand in Canadian hockey is holding up just fine, thank you.

The extremity at issue is attached to Connor McDavid, the generational talent who is expected to be drafted first over all in the upcoming NHL draft. His right hand was broken during an ill-advised fight in early November.

In two exhibition games with Team Canada, the first against Sweden, the second against the overmatched Swiss, the 17-year-old McDavid flashed his explosive speed and trademark puck skills, loosed a couple of laser-like wristers (one of which rang off the goalpost on Tuesday), and notched a couple of ho-hum assists.

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"I just needed to play – you can't go into a tournament like this without any minutes under your belt … Over all, I felt I had an all-right couple of games; it's certainly something to build off of," he said after the Switzerland game.

Perhaps the best news of all is the Canadians haven't yet needed McDavid to dominate outrageously, which is what he typically does.

The trio of 19-year-olds who form Canada's putative top line – Max Domi, Sam Reinhart and Anthony Duclair – have, in the words of coach Benoît Groulx, realized that "this is their last chance, and they're determined to take it."

Offence has been a problem in the recent past for Team Canada, which hasn't won the under-20 world title in five years. If the trio of pretournament tuneups are to serve as any indication, that won't be the case this time around: Canada will be fast, the players will shoot often and from everywhere, and they will grind it out physically.

It may well be that McDavid dons the mantle of top centre at some point during the tournament; in any case, any opposition efforts to bottle him up will only solve one of many problems.

The Canadians present a hydra-headed challenge to the other favourites in this year's edition – the United States, Sweden, Russia, and the defending-champion Finns.

Hockey Canada's approach in assembling the squad was patterned on the choices that led to the senior team winning gold at the Sochi Olympics: skill trumps all.

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This squad's depth is such that first-round NHL draft picks, such as Jake Virtanen (sixth over all in 2014) and Robby Fabbri (21st), and returning players, such as Nic Petan (a dynamic offensive player drafted in the second round in 2013), are consigned to bottom-six roles.

Having nifty-handed players, such as 17-year-old Lawson Crouse, who projects to be a first-round pick this summer, and Brayden Point, the eighth-leading scorer in the Western Hockey League (44 points in 29 games), as the nominal extra forwards is a nice luxury indeed.

"You need to have balanced scoring throughout the lineup and the last couple of years there hasn't been; it's been the old, traditional model of top-two scoring lines, a two-way third line and a fourth line of grinders," said Ryan Jankowski, Hockey Canada's chief scout. "When you score two goals in two years at [the semi-final in] this event, changes need to be made."

The main question, then, is whether Canada will be able to keep the puck out of its own net.

Goaltenders Zachary Fucale and Eric Comrie both have big-game experience. Fucale will start Friday night.

At least the squad's seven defencemen have a high degree of familiarity with one another: five of the six regulars played together at the 2013 World under-18 championship (Canada won gold), and all seven have been involved at one level or another of Hockey Canada's national programs.

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Samuel Morin, the six-foot-seven behemoth drafted 11th over all in 2013, said he can recall playing against some of his now-teammates as long ago as the 2011 Canada Games – "we lost to team B.C. in the final, Sam Reinhart and Curtis Lazar were on that team."

It's a theme that runs throughout the lineup.

This week, McDavid was asked if there were any players on this year's team that he hadn't previously played with or against at some point. He paused and said: "Actually, no."

Said Jankowski: "The familiarity comes from how to play in international competitions, what to expect from officiating, what our protocols are for drug testing, warmups and cool-downs. When these players come to play for Hockey Canada at the world juniors it's not new to them."

The adage holds that familiarity breeds contempt; in this context, the people behind junior Team Canada hope it will foster success.

Groulx said after the Swiss game that his team continues to show improvement, and that "we're confident, we're serene."

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The latter term is not often associated with the fiery Groulx. We'll see how long it lasts.

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