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World Cup of Hockey: Team Russia vs. Team North America preview, game thread, lines and how to watch

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Two teams known for their high-octane offensive players collide.

World Cup Of Hockey 2016 - Team North America v Team Finland
Team North America’s top line is pretty good.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After Group A's matinee resulted in a 3-2 win by Team Europe over the Czech Republic, it’s Group B’s turn.

Unlike those two teams, both Team North America (TNA) and Team Russia are coming off having played just yesterday. Despite some last minute would-be heroics from Alexander Ovechkin, Russia was felled by Team Sweden 2-1, who received stalwart goaltending from Jacob Markstrom. Dmitry Orlov and Vladimir Tarasenko each had four shots on goal, followed by Nikolay Kulemin, Evgeni Malkin and Ovechkin with three a piece, but it turned out Sweden didn’t need Henrik Lundqvist to stymie Russia’s offence.

As for TNA, they’re coming off a dominant performance versus Team Finland. The Finns managed to keep the game tight for 20 minutes, but Connor McDavid & Co. took control from the second period onwards, on their way to a 4-1 win and 43-25 shots advantage. The top-line of Matthews-McDavid-Scheifele combined for 10 of those shots, but the young guns squad was able to roll all four lines and three d-pairings on their way to victory.

Update:

When/Where:

Monday, Sept. 19, 7:00 p.m. CT, Air Canada Centre
TV Broadcast: ESPN2, SN, TVA Sports
Live Stream: WatchESPN, NHL Live

Team Russia Projected Lineup
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Alex Ovechkin
Pavel Datsyuk Nikita Kucherov
Nikolay Kulemin Evgeni Malkin Vladimir Tarasenko
Ivan Telegin Artem Anisimov Evgeny Kuznetsov
Artemi Panarin Vadim Shipachyov Evgeni Dadonov
Left Defence
Right Defence
Dmitry Orlov Nikita Zaitsev
Andrei Markov Alexei Emelin
Dmitri Kulikov Alexei Marchenko
Goaltenders
Sergei Bobrovsky
Semyon Varlamov

All the buzz is over the Russian forward corps' offensive firepower, but give credit where credit's due. Players such as Datsyuk, Kulemin and Anisimov know their way around the hockey rink, even without the puck. There’s a more than adequate sprinkling of two-way talent across the lines.

Their defence isn’t a murderers’ row of NHL stars, no doubt. But Zaitsev is showing he can play at this high level before having made his NHL debut, and Orlov has been underrated for years. The d-corps is leaning just as much if not more on its young legs than its elder statesmen, which bodes well for their chances. Now if only they would #FreeNikitaNesterov.

Finally, while some would prefer Varlamov or even third stringer Andrei Vasilevskiy in net, Bobrovsky gave Russia no reason for doubt against Sweden. While his 2015-16 NHL season was one to forget, the Novokuznetsk native can be a top-flight goaltender when on top of his game. He’ll likely need to be one tonight.

Team North America Projected Lineup
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Auston Matthews
Connor McDavid Mark Scheifele
Johnny Gaudreau Jack Eichel Dylan Larkin
Jonathan Drouin Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Nathan MacKinnon
Vincent Trocheck Sean Couturier Brandon Saad
Left Defence
Right Defence
Morgan Rielly Jacob Trouba
Ryan Murray Seth Jones
Shayne Gostisbehere Colton Parayko
Goaltenders
Matt Murray
John Gibson

Winnipeg Jets fans may have been disgruntled at his bumping Jacob Trouba out of the lineup, but Colton Parayko proved to be a solid choice last night. With two assists, three shots on goal and three hits, the 2012 third round selection fit right in on a blueline featuring high-profile picks Aaron Ekblad, Morgan Rielly and Seth Jones. If early returns from this tournament are any indication, Parayko’s 2015-16 with St. Louis wasn’t just a blip; it was a beginning.

Matt Murray gets the call again tonight, and why not? The Penguins goaltender was in Stanley Cup winning form against Finland, tracking the puck well, making stops look easy and generally playing a sound, quiet positional game. (By contrast, Pekka Rinne was an adventure on the other end.) Goalies are voodoo, but banking on Murray seems like the safe bet for head coach Todd McLellan.

Tweets of the Day

Who are you cheering for this evening? Do you think Team North America will eviscerate Russia’s defence? Is Mark Scheifele a great right winger, or the greatest right winger? And how much are you looking forward to seeing Winnipeg Jets prospect Ivan Telegin? As the game is played, turn the comments section below into your stream of consciousness, and as always, thanks for reading!