by PuckStopsHere on 05/14/10 at 01:06 PM ET
The World Hockey Championships are underway in Germany. That is a very overstated name for a tournament that often does not include the best players in the world because it is played at the same time as the Stanley Cup playoffs and only eliminated players can participate. Many NHL players on eliminated teams chose not to play for various personal reasons. It is hardly a world championship tournament - that was the Olympics. Nevertheless, it can be interesting hockey to see some of the better European players playing with and against some NHLers.
The tournament is being played in Mannheim and Cologne, Germany, with an opening day game (hometown Germany vs. USA - who have a strong level of support due to local US forces bases) played in front of 77,000 fans in a soccer stadium in Gelsenchirken.
There are sixteen teams in the tournament that are organized into four different four team divisions. Each division plays a preliminary round robin tournament, with the top three teams advancing and the fourth place team eliminated.
Here are the results of the preliminary round:
This is Russia’s group. They won all three games with 10 goals scored and only three allowed. Russia’s leading scorers were Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Sergei Fedorov. They are yet to find a number one goalie, in that no goalie has played more than one game so far in the tournament. Slovakia finished second, losing only to Russia (this is interesting given the Slovaks eliminated Russia in the Olympics). Ivan Ciernik, Milan Bartovic and Richard Lintner have led the way so far for the Slovaks, with Peter Budaj in goal. Belarus was next with one win. This team had Alexei Kalyuzhny and Dmitri Meleshko leading the way offensively. Vitali Koval and Andrei Mezin shared their goaltending duties. Overmatched was Kazakhstan, who only scored three goals (all by Dmitri Dudarev). Vitali Yeremeyev was their goalie.
Switzerland won this group. They scored 10 goals and allowed only two. Martin Pluss, Ivo Ruthemann and Damien Brunner led the way offensively, with Roman Josi playing strong defence. Martin Gerber was their top goaltender. Second was Canada, who was upset 4-1 by the Swiss. Canada has been led offensively by Corey Perry, Ray Whitney and John Tavares. Chris Mason has been their top goaltender. Third in the group was Latvia. Georgijs Pujacs led the team in scoring from defence. Kaspars Daugavins was their top scoring forward. Edgars Masalskis was their top goalie. Losing in this group was Italy. Only Michael Souza managed two points for the team. Adam Russo and Daniel Bellissimo shared the goaltending load.
This group was a tight three way tie. Sweden, Czech Republic and Norway all managed two wins and one loss. Thus any ranking between these three teams is done by goal differential in common games. Sweden won the group. They were led by magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Mattias Weinhandl and Rickard Wallin. Jonas Gustavsson was their top goalie. The Czech Republic was next. Jaromi Jagr, Jiri Novotny and Jakub Klepis led their offence. Tomas Vokoun was their top goalie. Norway finished third in the group. Patrick Thoresen led the preliminary round in scoring with six points and was joined by Mats Zuccarello-Aasen and Anders Fredriksen and top scorers for Norway. Pal Grotnes was their top goaltender. France finished in the bottom of this group losing all of its games. Yorick Treille led the French is scoring with two goals. Fabrice L’Henry played most of the games in goal.
Finland won this group. Jarkko Immonen and Petteri Nummelin led the way offensively. Petri Vehanen was their top goalie. Germany and Denmark had identical records for second place, which Germany won by tie breaker. The low scoring Germans only scored five goalsso far, with Felix Schutz their only two point scorer. Dennis Endras provided strong goaltending. Third place Denmark had a deeper offence led by Franz Nielsen and Peter Regin. Patrick Galbraith was their number one goalie. Surprisingly, it was USA who lost this group and is eliminated early. Keith Yandle and Jack Johnson (both on defence) were the only Americans to score two points. Scott Clemmensen was the goalie.
The tournament continues into a qualifying round. The surviving teams in groups A and D are rolled up into a six team group that will play a round robin (including the games alreading played in the preliminary round). Groups B and C for the other group. This leaves one group of Russia, German, Denmark, Slovakia, Finland and Belarus and another of Switzerland, Canada, Sweden, Czech Republic, Norway and Latvia. The top four teams in each group will advance to playoffs.
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