Friday, May 16, 2008

2008 world championship
Semi-finals watch

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.



At 4:12 p.m., May 16, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

Kenny Jonsson is dominating for Sweden. He definitely would be a great pickup for a NHL team if he decided to come back. I think he could play on most NHL teams as a #2 or #3 defenseman.

I do believe that the bottom teams do improve from playing the top ones. Norway's run this year was quite impressive. And we're starting to see teams like Slovenia and Denmark now produce NHL calibre talent.

Hungary is a great story... next year will be their first year in the top group for 70 years thanks to some great goaltending by former Calgary prospect Levente Szuper.

At 4:40 p.m., May 16, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

I was going to add that tidbit about Hungary's historic rise, but figured few would be interested.

I stand corrected!

And good point on Jonsson, although at this point, I don't think he's coming back. What it shows is how underrated he was when he did play in the NHL.

At 8:50 p.m., May 16, 2008, Anonymous desdemona said...

What happened to Jonsson? This was the first Swedish game I was able to watch, and saw him on the sidelines, watching.

At 9:22 p.m., May 16, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Canada is a f**king joke! Why don't just go public with the fact that Canada is suposed to win this World Cup in Canada from the beginning. The secound penalty for Sweden to night was just sad to see. How can the Canadian people cheer along? Im curious how thw game against Russia will go... I guess Canada will get some nice power play minutes, i mean, Canada is suposed to winanyway

At 9:28 p.m., May 16, 2008, Blogger Leather McWhip said...

Hey Anonymous,

Thoughtful comments ... but you left out what you think about Canada. Some clarification next time would help.

At 10:44 p.m., May 16, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hungary and Austria are joining the superpowers next year?
Should Bosnia be tightening its D?

At 11:04 p.m., May 16, 2008, Anonymous dr said...

Free Attila Ambrus! The Hungarians need him as their backup goalie.

At 12:58 a.m., May 17, 2008, Blogger erik said...

If Sweden falls, they can thank the Red Wings for hogging all of their best players. Go Wings!

At 12:59 a.m., May 17, 2008, Blogger erik said...

oh and dr, have you read the whiskey robber?

At 1:53 p.m., May 17, 2008, Anonymous dr said...

i have. it's a good book.


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