With the NHL season over for the Tampa Bay Lightning, we will try to focus on several Lightning players who are representing their countries at the 2019 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia. Over the next two weeks, we are going to keep you up to date with their performance at the tournament, not forgetting about highlights from other games too.
After winning six games in a row, the Russians would have agreed even with a loss by two goals to secure first place in Group B, but any bigger defeat could have sent them to the third place. Meanwhile in Group A, Germany defeated Finland and the situation became complicated.
The Russian team didn’t make big changes before the game versus Sweden. Kirill Kaprizov remained on the line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin. Andrei Vasilevskiy returned to the net despite a brilliant game by Alexandar Georgiev in the last game against Switzerland.
From the start, both teams were very active, trying to get in the offensive zone. Although, the Swedes were a little bit more dangerous and eventually scored a goal after a rebound by Gabriel Landeskog.
It's 1-0 @Trekronorse with this skillful @GabeLandeskog92 re-direction against @russiahockey_en at #IIHFWorlds #SWERUS @Avalanche— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) May 21, 2019
More game highlights >https://t.co/LZ0SQWyVuE pic.twitter.com/LqxYl2l6xl
The second period was a completely different scenario. After a combination with Nikita Kucherov and Nikita Gusev, Artem Anisimov was left alone in front of the net and tied the game for Team Russia.
In the remaining time of the period, the Swedes didn’t look like themselves and couldn’t do anything against the Russian offence. Before the end of period, they allowed five more goals, including this Alex Ovechkin goal on a Malkin assist.
In the last period, the Russians stopped the pressure and team Sweden were able to get on the board three times after goals by Oliver Ekman-Larsson, William Nylander and John Klingberg.
The Russian team became the only team to not lose during the preliminary stage at the World Championship. Their quarterfinals opponent is team USA, which ended up in fourth place in Group A after defeating Germany.
After losing John Tavares before the start of tournament, Canada hasn’t been considered as a favourite as much as teams like USA, Sweden or Russia. They don’t have any big names except Mark Stone and Sean Couturier who are still underrated at the NHL level. On the other hand, they have a pretty young and balanced team with solid centres.
During the World Championships, they’ve also established themselves as a team with a strong power play. After the preliminary stage, Canada lead all teams with 52.63% with the advantage.
In the last two games, they outscored their opponents 8-0 and clinched first place in Group A.
Anthony Cirelli finished the group stage with 4 (3+1) points and has been effective for his team. Mathieu Joseph has 2 points so far, playing mostly on the fourth line.
Anthony Mantha won’t help team Canada in quarterfinals due to a suspension after an unnecessary hit in the game against Team USA. Mantha is currently tied for the most goals at the Worlds with Yevgeni Dadonov and Michael Frolik.
.@HC_Men forward @AntoMantha8 has been suspended for one game due to a hit to the head infraction in yesterday's game against @USAHockey, will miss tomorrow's quarter-final vs. @SwissIceHockey https://t.co/SQSmfZkn6W— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) May 22, 2019
Team Czech Republic
Despite the absence of their biggest offensive stars like David Pastrnak and Tomas Hertl, it seems like Czech team hasn’t really noticed it. There are currently five Czechs in the top-10 of the scoring race, including Jakub Voracek, who has become the first Czech player with 15+ points since 1986.
On Tuesday, they faced team Switzerland, which had lost their two previous games to Russia and Sweden.
After allowing an early goal by Swiss, the Czechs scored four times and had a two goal advantage heading into the third period. The Swiss managed to tie with three minutes to go and pulled their goalie because a win could have earned them a better opponent in quarterfinals. But Jan Rutta scored an empty-netter in the 59th minute of the game.
Ondrej Palat started this game on the 4th line again, despite being one of the best player on the Czech team against the strongest teams. During the preliminary round, he has created the most chances at 5v5. The chart on the right in the following tweet is the number of chances created by Czech players at 5v5:
#TeamOndraPalátDoTOP6 mimo jiné i kvůli tomuto. Snaží se dostat do slotu, má většinu střel poblíž osy hřiště. Hezky to bylo včera vidět na jednom úniku, kdy se natlačil až před brankáře. pic.twitter.com/gXnkZb37OP— The Hockey Ninja (@The_HockeyNinja) May 22, 2019
The Czechs will play Team Germany in quarterfinals. Their record against Germany at big tournaments ( World Cup, World Championship, Olympic Games) seems very hopeful for the Czechs who haven’t won any medals since 2015. They are currently 15-1-2 against them.
Slovakia have already been eliminated, but kept battling in every game before the end of tournament. In the last game, they defeated Denmark in a shutout.
The game against Denmark was the last for Ladislav Nagy. It was the eightth World Championship for him.
Proud of my old linemate, Ladislav Nagy, who closed out his international career with Slovakia today, playing as their Captain. And of course scored in the shootout, glove side bar down, using his still illegal stick ;) Well done Lady #ladydaddy pic.twitter.com/7WUc3WBYBZ— Mike Johnson (@mike_p_johnson) May 21, 2019
Erik Cernak ended the Worlds with 5 (3+2) points.
This is how the quarterfinal matchups look (all times are in central european time).
Great Britain and Italy are staying in the elite division for one more year. France and Austria are eliminated. They will be replaced by Belarus and Kazakhstan who has qualified from the second World Championship Division.
This is what pure happiness looks like:
Dylan Larkin won’t be able to help his team against Russia in the quarterfinals after suffering an injury in the game against Canada. Derek Ryan is also not expected to play.
Dylan Larkin took a shot to the groin in USA’s loss to Canada.— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) May 22, 2019
William Nylander leads the scoring race with 17 points in 7 games. He added two more assists against Russia. Nikita Kucherov is two points behind him.
The top ten scorers after preliminary stage:
The top ten goalies by save percentage after preliminary stage: