Saturday, May 5, 2012

2012 World Championships preview

The new "Canada has to play without sticks
to make it fair" rule got mixed reviews.
Hockey fans never seem quite sure how to feel about the World Championships. On the one hand, international hockey is always entertaining. On the other, it can be difficult to get too excited about a competition that takes place right as the NHL playoffs are kicking into high gear.

This year's tournament, which got underway yesterday, is being co-hosted by Finland and Sweden. And as always, most of the coverage has focused as much on the intrigue around which players would accept invitations to represent their countries. With the roster still in flux even after the tournament starts, it can be tough to separate the also-rans from the contenders.

Here's a closer look at the six countries favored to take home the medals.

Russia

Team outlook: While the roster does feature Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Dastyuk, experts agree that the lack of a third-line center could be a major issue for the 30 or 40 seconds a game that they'll need one.
Key player: Team officials can't figure out why Ilya Bryzgalov hasn't shown up yet, since based on a look at his stats from the first round the Flyers clearly lost in four straight.
Prediction: While the players acknowledge that being under a microscope is just part of playing for Russia internationally, they're still not sure why Barry Trotz keeps showing up at their hotel and asking the front desk if he can have a look at their key cards.

Sweden

Team outlook: As always, the players will focus on the three tenets of Swedish international hockey: a high-tempo offense, a team-wide commitment to defense, and skating by their goaltender every few seconds to yell "Hey, just making sure but you're not Tommy Salo, right?"
Key player: Pekka Rinne, since he was kind enough to make sure the entire Detroit Red Wings roster was available.
Prediction: Daniel Alfredsson finds himself hoping for a matchup against Canada in Stockholm, since it would be a nice change of pace to play a home game against a team wearing maple leafs without being booed.

Finland

Team outlook: As the defending champion, they'll no doubt be just fine unless their goalie decides to start posting about politics on Facebook.
Key player: Mikko Koivu will make an excellent captain for this sort of tournament, since as Minnesota Wild fans know he's great at inspiring a team to get all its wins out of the way in the first two weeks.
Prediction: Teemu Selanne gets an enthusiastic response when he steps onto the ice after carefully considering the team's invitation, before being informed by the security guard that the tournament has actually been over for four months.

Czech Republic

Team outlook: The team enters the tournament without having a single NHL-quality defenceman or goaltender on the roster. Or, as Ales Hemsky calls it, "business as usual".
Key player: Veteran Petr Nedved will play a key role for the Czechs, unless he winds up in a contract dispute with the Canucks in which case he'll somehow wind up representing Canada.
Prediction: As with most international tournaments, it will all come down to how effectively they can kill off all of their "Too many Jakubs on the ice" penalties.

USA

Team outlook: The team initially wanted to build a roster that included all of the nation's very best NHL players, but organizers informed them that they couldn't really ice a lineup consisting entirely of goalies.
Key player: The team expects big things from Paul Stastny, as long as he can avoid his two bad habits that have plagued him at recent tournaments: constantly making secret hand signals at his father and uncles, and repeatedly shooting the puck into his own net whenever Team USA faces the Slovaks.
Prediction: Team captain Jack Johnson struggles on offence when every slapshot he takes misses the net and shatters whichever out-of-town scoreboard is displaying that night's Los Angeles Kings game.

Canada

Team outlook: The blueline will rely heavily on Maple Leafs' defencemen like Luke Schenn and Dion Phaneuf, according to what starting goaltender Cam Ward seemed to be yelling hysterically while sprinting away from the first practice carrying his passport and suitcase.
Key player: John Tavares will be looking to have a big tournament, since as the New York Islanders' franchise player he knows he's only going to get 15 or 20 more shots at this.
Prediction: As a Canadian hockey fan, you'll wait until you know who's playing in the gold medal game before deciding whether this is one of those years you think this tournament is important or not.




28 comments:

  1. awesome!

    missing something about germany, though ... had hoped that the moose-videoclip would've given you some ideas ;)

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  2. Stastny is Slovak.

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    Replies
    1. By heritage. He was born in the US, is an American citizen and plays for Team USA.

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    2. Actually, he was born in Quebec. Raised in the USA, plays for USA. Slovak heritage, Canadian born, USA citizenship.

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    3. Law for Slovak citizenship: at least 1 parent of Slovak citizenship (check). Both Canada and the United States, do not require (or ask) to revoke other citizenship. So unless Paul or Jan renounced their Slovak citizenship, by all accounts Stastny is still a Slovak citizen.

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    4. The guy plays for the US. Do you know him? Do you know if he has Slovak citizenship or that he is just eligible for Slovak citizenship?

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  3. Replies
    1. If I had a son, I would name him Dastyuk. I mean, wouldn't anyone?

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  4. As an Oiler fan, the Hemsky comment is awesome.

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  5. Stastny was born in Canada, but has dual citizenship. He and brother Yan chose to play for the USA

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  6. Pekka Rinne? Finland?

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    Replies
    1. OK, let's play connect-the-dots:

      Rinne helped eliminate the Red Wings, which is a team full of... ?

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    2. Communists.

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  7. How about thanking Jonathan Quick (if the Sedins are playing for Sweden)?

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    Replies
    1. Aren't playing unfortunately. Daniel's just returned from a concussion,and Henrik's rumoured to have some back issues.

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  8. Hemsky joke was the best.

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  9. Sad part is your joke about Tavares realistically should have been directed at Phaneuf or Schenn. But we wouldn't want to admit that now, would we? Feel it.

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    Replies
    1. Yea - DGB never takes shots at the Leafs.

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  10. Man I feel sorry for Jack Johnson. Going from L.A. to Columbus is a fate nobody should have to endure

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    Replies
    1. I don't feel sorry for Jack Johnson. He had plenty of chances to sign with the Hurricanes - he could have even won the cup in 06. He whiffed on that, and now he is in Columbus. Queue up Nelson Muntz - ha ha! We got Tim Gleason in return, who was on the US Olympic Team as well.

      DGB, thanks for the Predator and Caniac love here! Hopefully Staal is there to keep Wardo happy.

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    2. I wouldn't say he whiffed on signing with Carolina. That extra year in College helped him a lot, he's definitely a better player than if he had jumped ship for the NHL asap

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  11. awesome as always! I'm czech and I love joke about Aleš Hemský and "Too many Jakubs on the ice" thx

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  12. I love how people always say 'as a ______ fan...' What are you trying to say? That you arent offended by the article because its all in good fun even though hes taking a jab at your favourite team? Like we give a **** who your favourite team is

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    1. I agree. As a Leafs fan, I understand that all of DGB's jabs against them are all in good fun and just for entertainment's sake. I don't need to state that every time.

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    2. As a DGB fan I am not offended by your comment on this article even though you are taking a jab at the comments on this site.

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  13. || Team officials can't figure out why Ilya Bryzgalov hasn't shown up yet, since based on a look at his stats from the first round the Flyers clearly lost in four straight. ||

    Dude should travel around with Marc-André Fleury as his personal opposing goalie, like the Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington Generals.

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