by PuckStopsHere on 05/16/12 at 04:15 PM ET
The World Hockey Championship tournament is underway in Finland and Sweden. One preliminary group (Group H) played its games in Helsinki, Finland and the other group (Group S) played its games in Stockholm, Sweden. Both groups consist of eight teams. The top four in each group move on to the next round.
The World Hockey Championships are a poorly named tournament. How can you have a world championship if some of the best players in the game are not available because they are in the Stanley Cup playoffs? Nevertheless it is an interesting tournament as we see players playing in situations where they are no usually played. This gives us a better view of the hockey players in the tournament.
Here are the preliminary round results:
1. Canada 6 wins 1 overtime loss The overtime loss came to USA. Canada was perfect in their other games. Their +20 team +/- was the best in either group. Defenceman Duncan Keith leads the team offensively with 11 points. John Tavares and Ryan Getzlaf have also been offensive leaders in their balanced attack. Cam Ward has been the number one goalie with Devan Dubnyk backing him up.
2. USA 4 regulation wins 2 overtime wins 1 loss The loss came against Slovakia. The Americans won their other games but twice needed overtime. They had a strong +15 +/-. Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny led them offensively. Justin Faulk has had a strong tournament on defence. Jimmy Howard has done most of their goaltending.
3. Finland 5 wins 2 losses Their losses came against Canada and USA. This team had a more modest +7 +/- when compared to the top two teams. They were the hometown favorite. Valterri Filppula and Mikko Koivu led the way offensively. Juuso Heitanen was their top defenceman. Petri Vahanen has been their top goalie so far in the tournament.
4. Slovakia 5 wins 2 losses They lose the tiebreaker with Finland since the Fins beat them. Their other loss came against Canada. Their +8 +/- makes them quite similar to Finland in their success so far. Branko Radivojevic and Tomas Kopecky led the team offensively with a strong contribution from Andrej Sekera on defence. Jan Laco was their top goalie.
5. France 3 wins 4 losses They lost to all of the four teams that moved on in the tournament. They allowed 11 more goals than they scored. Offensively Laurent Meunier, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Stephane da Costa led the way. Cristobal Huet was their top goalie.
6. Switzerland 2 wins 5 losses They lost to all teams ahead of them and beat the teams that finished below them. They only allowed five more goals than they scored, which perhaps says they were a better team than their record shows. Damien Brunner and Kevin Romi led the way offensively with Mark Streit contributing from defence. Reto Berra and Tobias Stephan shared the goaltending duties.
7. Belarus 1 win 6 losses Their only win came against Kazakhstan. They allowed 12 more goals than they scored. Alexei Kalyuzhny was their top scorer. Vitali Koval was their top goaltender.
8. Kazakhstan 1 overtime loss 6 regulation losses They pushed USA to overtime in their closest game but were otherwise outplayed. They allowed 22 more goals than they scored. Konstantin Pushkaryon led their offence with Vitali Novopashin leading their defence. Vitali Kolesnik was their top goaltender.
1. Russia 7 wins Russia was perfect in the preliminary round outscoring opposition by 19 goals. Evgeni Malkin was their runaway top scorer with 14 points. Alexander Perezhogin and Alexander Popov were also big offensive contributors. Semyon Varlamov was their top goaltender.
2. Sweden 6 wins 1 loss This hometown team had their only loss against Russia. Henrik Zetterberg and Loui Eriksson led the way offensively. Erik Karlsson led their defence. Viktor Fasth was their top goaltender.
3. Czech Republic 4 wins 1 overtime win 2 losses Their overtime loss came against Norway with the two higher ranked teams defeating them. Ales Hemsky and Tomas Plekanec led the way offensively. Petr Caslava was their top defenceman. Jakub Kovar was their best goaltender.
4. Norway 4 wins 1 overtime loss 2 regulation losses They played a strong tournament leading group S in goals scored but could not beat the top teams in their group. Patrick Thoreson leads the tournament offensively so far. Per-Age Skroder also contributed significantly. Jonas Holos led their defence. Lars Haugen was their number one goalie.
5. Latvia 2 wins 5 losses They beat Germany and Italy. Miks Indrasis and Janis Sprukts were their offensive leaders. Edgars Masalskis was their top goaltender.
6. Germany 2 wins 5 losses Their victories came against Denmark and Italy. Their loss against Latvia loses the tiebreaker in the standings placing them sixth. Phillip Gogulla and Patrick Reimer led the way offensively. Dennis Endras was their top goalie.
7. Denmark 1 win 1 overtime loss 5 regulation losses Their only outright win came against Latvia. They lost in overtime to Italy. Lars Eller and Morten Green led the way offensively. Frederik Andersen was their top goalie.
8. Italy 1 overtime win six losses An overtime win against Denmark kept them from being completely destroyed in this tournament. They only scored six goals in the preliminary round. Giulio Scandella led offensively with only three points. Daniel Bellissimo was their top goalie.
This puts Canada, USA, Finland and Slovakia through to the playoffs in Group H and Russia, Sweden, Czech Republic and Norway in Group S. Canada will play Slovakia and USA plays Finland in the Group H playoffs. Russia meets Norway and Sweden meets Czech Republic in the Group S playoffs. Theses are played on Thursday.
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