The 2011 IIHF World Hockey Championships continues today as the tournament moves from the Qualifying round to the Quarter finals. Of the 12 teams that entered the qualifying round, four countries have been eliminated and will not advance to the quarter finals. With the final eight teams battling it out for gold, the next two days will decide which four countries will advance to the Semi’s.
Eliminated in the qualifying round were France, Denmark, Switzerland and Slovakia. The eight countries still left standing are USA, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Russia, Finland, Norway and the reigning champs, the Czech Republic. For the teams remaining, each team’s next game is a win and you’re in, lose and you go home.
Here is the schedule for the Quarter finals.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 11, 2011
|USA||vs||Czech Republic||10:15 AM|
THURSDAY, MAY 12, 2011
The Quarter Finals kick off with a huge game for the US. Tasked with knocking off the reigning champs, the American squad will be in tough. The Czech are one of two teams that have gone undefeated in the tournament thus far, and have been rolling over teams having outscored opponents 23-9. The Czech look poised for a repeat and are doing it by committee.
The USA have had a mediocre tournament so far. With a record of 3-3 so far, the US have not dominated at all. Even though they have outscored opponents 20-19, the US head into the Quarter Finals having lost three of their last four games. The US will receive a boost with the addition of James Van Riemdyk but are still plagued by goal tending issues as neither Al Montoya or Ty Conklin have dominated in the US goal.
The other big game of the Quarter Finals will be on Thursday as Team Canada will take on Team Russia. With Canada going undefeated thus far in the tournament, Canada is hoping to avenge their embarrassing seventh place finish in last year’s tournament. Even though they have outscored opponents 26-12, Canada has not dominated the tournament. Still seeming like they could go to another level, will Canada reach that next level in time for their game against Russia? Look for LA Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier to get the start in goal.
Russia will hope the addition of Alex Ovechkin will help them more this game then their last game as Russia lost to the Finland. With Russia always a threat to win this tournament, Canada cannot overlook the Russian squad even though they have not been the same force they have been in the past.
Of the six players representing your Ottawa Senators at the tournament, only France’s Stephen Da Costa has been eliminated from the tournament. In his five games, Da Costa had one assist and six shots for a France squad that wasn’t expected to do too much in the tourney. Ottawa’s two Swedish prospects, Jakob Silfverberg and David Rundblad have both had a decent tournament. Silfverberg has suited up in all of Sweden’s six games and has one assist and has seen his role expand as the tournament continues due to his solid two-way play. Rundblad has only played one game so far (as it was rumoured he was dealing with an injury) and played admirably against Canada as he skated well and moved the puck quickly.
Milan Michalek is having a good tournament as he has notched three goals and four points in the the five games he has played. Taking a huge hit in the Czech-Russia game, Michalek missed one game as he healed up in preparation for the Quarter Finals. Ryan Shannon is continuing his strong second half of the year as he has four points in six games for the USA team. Using his speed and smarts, Shannon has been used in all situations for the American squad.
Jason Spezza has had the best tournament of all the Senators at the tourney. With three goals and six points in six games, Spezza is now centering the number one line for team Canada. Also continuing his strong second half, Spezza is proving what he can do given quality line-mates.
Enjoy the Quarter Final Round and some great international puck.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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