Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Quick Hits From The Preliminary Round Of The World Hockey Championships

There's this little tournament going on over in Scandinavia a few of you may have heard of. Sure it's no Olympics or World Cup of Hockey, but it's a decent little tournament with many NHL stars. While North American's may not care too much about it, or even be able to watch it as the games are often early morning/afternoon, the European fans absolutely love it (did anyone see that 30-year-old Finnish man crying after their loss to Canada? They take this shit seriously). Injuries, contract negotiations and quality family time make it difficult for many North American players to skip across the pond to play for their country, but for many European players it means going home and playing in front of their family and friends - it's a big deal to them. You may not care much about watching a team with Joey Crabb or Marc Methot on it, but there is some quality hockey and great storylines going on.

You may have followed along, or didn't give two shits, but here are some noteworthy highlights from the Preliminary Round of play:
  • Led by Evgeni Malkin, Russia was the only undefeated team in the tournament with 27 goals for and 8 against. They'll get even more talent as Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin are joining the team for their quarterfinal game on Thursday (or maybe that doesn't help them?).
  • Norwegian Patrick Thoresen, better known in NHL circles as "the guy that blocked a shot with his nuts" for the Flyers a few years back is leading the tournament in points with 16 points in just 7 games.
  • France nearly qualified for the playoff round after finishing with a 3-4 record and needing a regulation win on the last day of the preliminaries against Slovakia to advance - they lost 5-4 on a 3rd period Branko Radivojevic goal. 
  • Canada's leading point getter was defenceman Duncan Keith, who with 10 assists is also chasing a Canadian tournament record for most assists (12). 
  • The IIHF Power Ranking blog gained popularity with it's humour (be sure to check out the archives at the bottom of the link). 
  • There is one player that doesn't wear a visor at the tournament because he was born before the grandfather clause for visors and opted to go bare-faced - Alexei Troshinki of Kazakhstan. 
  • Italy was expectedly relegated to Division 1 along with Kazakhstan, who failed to win a single game in the tournament. 
  • Canadian defenceman, Ryan Murray, is the youngest player at the tournament being born September 27th, 1993. He's played almost 47 minutes in 5 games as NHL scouts check him out to see how he handles playing with the big boys. 
  • Belarusian goaltending staple, Andrei Mezin, left the team after only playing in two games. Upset with icetime, the 2002 Olympic hero who stopped 47 Swedish shots in that upset game, just simply left. It's hard to argue with the play of backup Vitali Koval though who put up a .920 save percentage before being injured.
  • Ryan Getzlaf has the highlight of the tournament by trying to get with Miss Finland and also telling a bunch of Finnish fans he could punch them all out.
  • There were some nasty hits dished out that resulted in suspensions; demonstrating that mandatory visors, bigger ice, and harsher penalties do not make the game safer. Here's one of the worst that netted a 3 game suspension for Anssi Salmela:

4 comments:

  1. Love this Tournament. I just with the games were played when I wasn't at work.

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  2. Ryan Murray has looked decent. If I am the Oilers I trade down a few picks and take him. They don't need another small skilled forward.

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  3. finnish guy crying was awesome

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  4. Canada, USA and Sweden knocked out
    What is going on with the hockey superpowers

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