2008 world championship
Two weeks on, the world championship tournament begins to get interesting.
Canada won its first elimination game over Norway on Wednesday, advancing to a semi-final game against Sweden that gets going about an hour from now. Russia blanked Finland 4-0 in the other semi earlier today, and will face the Canada-Sweden winner on Sunday afternoon.
The big problem with the event (and I've pointed this out before) is that there are 16 countries entered, but only seven or eight, if you include the Swiss, that have a hope at finishing among the top three. Canada has played seven games to this point, facing Slovenia, Latvia, the U.S., Norway (x2), Germany and Finland.
Big draws, they ain't.
Leaving us next year will be Italy and Slovenia, who went a combined 0-10 and were outscored 51-17. Hungary and Austria won the right to be pounded by the super powers by winning their pools in the Division I tournament earlier this year.
Stay tuned for that.
The interesting thing about tonight's contest is just how few NHL players are on the Swedish side. That country's elite league is showcasing a lot of talent, as three defencemen and 11 forwards played in Europe this year.
Defenceman Jonas Frogren and forward Fredrik Varg have been decent out of that group. Former NHLer Mattias Weinhandl leads the team in scoring with five goals and 11 points in seven games.
Canada's best players to this point have been Dany Heatley (10 goals, 16 points), Rick Nash (five goals, 12 points), Ryan Getzlaf (11 points) and Brent Burns (plus-13). The ice time has been even overall, with Burns as the only Canadian player who's averaged more than 18 minutes per game.
It should be interesting. I do know that the Russians, led by Ovechkin, are especially motivated this year, so whoever advances from this one will have a real test in the final.
Labels: World championship