Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 05/02/11 at 06:40 PM ET
While most of the hockey world is focusing its attention on the Stanley Cup playoffs, the preliminary rounds of the 2011 IIHF World Championships are underway in Slovakia. Two-thirds of the way through round robin pool play, Germany is the surprise of the tournament. They have taken control of group A with surprising wins over Russia and Slovakia. The rest of the tournament has gone pretty much as anyone would expect. Canada and Switzerland are first and second in group B, USA and Sweden are first and second in group C, Czech and Finland are first and second from group D.
While some of the world’s best players are competing for Lord Stanley’s Cup, some are injured and some simply opted not to play in this tournament, there’s still plenty of highly skilled players representing their countries. Another surprise, two games in, is that Carolina’s Jeff Skinner is leading the entire tournament in scoring.
Skinner, who is the youngest player in the NHL and the youngest player in the World Championships has five (3/2) points so far and is the only player to have recorded a three-point game so far. On Friday, he had the game-winning goal and an assist in Canada’s 4-1 win over Belarus. Then on Sunday, he had two goals (including a successful penalty shot) and an assist in Canada’s 9-1 romp over France.
Here’s some highlights of the Canada-France game with Skinner’s two goals:
The first of his two goals comes at the 2:12 mark of the highlight package, 12:02 of the first period, to make it 3-0 Canada.
The second—the penalty shot—comes at 8:00 of the package, 14:30 of the third, to make it 8-1 Canada.
He also very nearly scored late in the second. He had goaltender L’Henry down and out, but he whiffed on his shot and Chris Stewart eventually banged it in at 16:06 of the second.
Jarkko Immonen (Ak Bars Kazan of the KHL) from Finland, Ivo Ruthemann (SC Bern of the Swiss A League) from Switzerland, John Tavares (Islanders) of Canada and Robert Nilsson (Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the KHL) of Sweden each have four points in the tournament so far, but only Immonen has matched Skinner’s three goals.
On Tuesday, Skinner and Canada will face Switzerland, who is by far their toughest opponent in goup B. And that’s not saying much. One of the Swiss goalies is Daniel Manzato, who was selected by the Hurricanes in the 2002 Entry Draft. He played two seasons with the River Rats, appearing in a total of 33 games. His numbers weren’t very good. He hasn’t appeared or even dressed in this tournament.
As I said, many of the best players in the world aren’t playing in this tournament, but it’s still something really special to be playing extremely well in an international tournament.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.