Today’s Group A action sees Team Europe looking to keep the good times rolling, while the Czech Republic aims to bounce back after a throttling by Team Canada.
Overshadowed by gimmick bedfellows Team North America, Team Europe vaulted themselves into feel good story status on Saturday, Sept. 17, with a 3-0 win over the Americans. Led by grizzled veterans such as Anze Kopitar, Zdeno Chara and Marian Hossa, not to mention a sharp-looking Jaroslav Halak, a win tonight would cement their place as the tournament’s Cinderella team.
Meanwhile, a surprisingly encouraging pre-tournament by the Czech Republic was all for naught, as their round-robin debut turned into a 6-0 trouncing by Team Canada. Though outshot 50-27 by the Canadians on Sept. 17, Team Europe isn’t exactly up to Team Canada standards of depth. The Czechs should have a much better time skating with the Europeans for more than the first ten minutes.
Monday, Sept. 19, 2:00 p.m. CT, Air Canada Centre
TV Broadcast: ESPN, SN, TVA Sports
Live Stream: WatchESPN, NHL Live
|Left Wing||Centre||Right Wing|
|Marian Gaborik||Frans Nielsen||Mats Zuccarello|
|Nino Niederreiter||Leon Draisaitl||Tobias Rieder|
|Thomas Vanek||Pierre-Edouard Bellemare||Jannik Hansen|
|Zdeno Chara||Andrej Sekera|
|Roman Josi||Dennis Seidenberg|
|Christian Ehrhoff||Mark Streit|
In helming this amalgamation of nationalities, head coach Ralph Krueger continues to make his case for an NHL return. He received a nice balance of scoring against the Americans, with goals from Marian Gaborik, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Leon Draisaitl. Meanwhile, capable veterans such as Kopitar, Roman Josi, Chara, Hossa and Andrej Sekera shoulder the lion’s share of minutes.
The World Cup of Hockey may also be something of a coming out party for Frans Nielsen. Playing behind John Tavares with the New York Islanders, the Danish centre has been very good for a long time. Signed by Detroit to a six-year deal worth $5.25 million per, Red Wings fans should be pleased by their new addition and what he brings to the table.
Have you heard about Jaroslav Halak’s shutout against Team USA? While a close match in the first period, Halak ended the game with 35 saves, compared to Jonathan Quick's 14 (on 17 shots, so much for elite). Now if Halak could just stay hot without getting hurt, everything just might be coming up Milhouse for Team Europe.
|Left Wing||Centre||Right Wing|
|Milan Michalek||Martin Hanzal||David Pastrnak|
|Roman Cervenka||Vladimir Sobotka||Ales Hemsky|
|Michal Birner||Dmitrij Jaskin||Michael Frolik|
|Andrej Sustr||Jakub Nakladal|
|Michal Kempny||Roman Polak|
|Michal Jordan||Zbynek Michalek|
As if life weren’t difficult enough, Dallas Stars centre Radek Faksa is out due to an upper-body injury. The result is some line shuffling which could see Michal Birner draw in, though another option is to go with seven defencemen and dress Tomas Kundratek. While the Czechs probably could have used a different look anyways, this isn’t the ideal scenario for going about it.
There are some notes of consolation to be had. Martin Hanzal has shown the strong two-way game he plies over in Arizona, and aside from an egregious turnover now burned into everyone’s memories, the Czechs have leaned on Michal Kempny and he’s responded well.
Between Michal Neuvirth and
Ondrej Pavelec Petr Mrazek, goaltending should be a strength for the Czech Republic. Of course, after being hung out to dry for six goals against, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Mrazek instead of Neuvirth between the pipes.
Tweets of the Day
On Kempny vs. Team Canada:
Michal Kempny played most of the game paired with Roman Polak.— Blackhawks Breakdown (@HawksBreakdown) September 18, 2016
Kempny played the most against Doughty, Weber, Getzlaf, Tavares, & Toews,
Team Europe with the first goal of the World Cup. Wicked pass from Frans Nielsen to Marian Gaborik pic.twitter.com/p05cLoPpNc— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) September 17, 2016
This might be an unpopular opinion, but I like Frans Nielsen.— Winging It In Motown (@wingingitmotown) September 17, 2016
Which team are you cheering for in today’s matinee? Looking at both rosters, which do you believe has the edge on paper? And if Trouba remains unsigned, should the Winnipeg Jets look at bringing in a UFA option such as Czech d-man Jakub Nakladal? As the game is played, turn the comments section below into your stream of consciousness, and as always, thanks for reading!