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The Malik Report

Red Wings at the Worlds: Mrazek’s Czechs, Team USA eliminated in Quarterfinals

Updated 6x at 8:16 PM: It was a puzzling day for the Red Wings' representatives at the World Championship in Paris and Cologne.

In Paris, the Czechs chose to start Pavel Francouz instead of Petr Mrazek for the Czechs' Quarterfinal match-up against Russia, and the Czechs lost 3-0;

And in Cologne, the Americans looked like what they are--incredibly, incredibly young--as Finland eliminated the U.S. from medal contention with a 2-0 shutout.

Dylan Larkin was near-heroic in winning faceoff after faceoff and earning grade-A scoring opportunities; Jimmy Howard was as good as he could possibly be in keeping the Americans in it, and Danny DeKeyser was pleasantly invisible, but a U.S. team that had won 6 straight games blew its opportunity to advance to the Semifinals.

I don't even blame Blashill for this one; the Americans just didn't have an answer for the FInnish Trap, and they got jittery.

Update: Statistically...

Petr Mrazek: Did not play for Czechs;

Jimmy Howard: 18 saves on 20 shots (.900 save percentage) for USA;

Dylan Larkin: 3 shots, even in 23:18 for USA, most ice time of any skater;

Danny DeKeyser: 1 shot, even in 17:16.

Update #2: Here are highlights from Czech-Russia...

And USA-Finland:

Update #3: From IIHF.com's John Sanful's USA-Finland recap:

By the third and the urgency to score more apparent, Team USA had some sustained possession time in the Finnish zone. But as they were moving the puck around the perimeter, they were unable to penetrate inside, near the crease to test Sateri.

USA's best players Kevin Hayes and Johnny Gaudreau were unable to recreate the magic they've enjoyed over their previous few games.

"They did a good job defensively, clogging us up in the zone and made it tough on us all night long," Howard said. "Finland's tough defensively, they play a very disciplined game and don't give up much."

When defenceman Brady Skjei fell at the blueline, Finland has another two-on-one with only Charlie McAvoy back. Juhamatti Aaltonen forwarded a pass to Kemppainen who scored to make it 2-0.

The tournament comes to an abrupt end for Team USA who won six of their seven games in the Preliminary Round, including a group deciding encounter against Russia.

Finland, who was just able to make it into the quarter-finals now moves on in the tournament and play the winner of the Switzerland-Sweden game.

"We beat the Swiss here in OT and we beat Sweden in our last exhibition game with a third-period goal," Kemppainen said. "Whoever we get, we will need to play an even better game."

And, from Lucas Aykroyd's Czech-Russia recap:

The Czech Republic's drought continues. They haven't won gold since 2010 in Cologne or a medal of any shade since 2012’s bronze in Helsinki. This was a disappointing and anticlimactic end to a tournament in which they went unbeaten in five straight games in between losses to Canada and Switzerland.

Czech goalie Pavel Francouz did his best, but it wasn't enough. The 26-year-old Traktor Chelyabinsk netminder got the quarter-final start after posting better numbers than Petr Mrazek of the Detroit Red Wings in the group stage -- a 0.99 GAA and 92.6 save percentage versus a 2.47 GAA and 88.1 save percentage.

Entering this game, coach Oleg Znarok’s team boasted the tournament’s top offence with 35 goals in seven games. Not always famed for their defensive play, the Russians shone in all three zones to help Vasilevski get his tournament-leading third shutout with 27 saves. The modern-era record for most shutouts at the Worlds is four, shared by Czechoslovakia's Jiri Kralik (1982) and Canada's Cam Talbot (2016).

"The key was our penalty killers," said defenceman Vladislav Gavrikov after Russia killed off five minors. "They were excellent, and so was our goaltender. That was the difference."

Update #4: Here's Team USA's website's recap:

U.S. Falls to Finland, 2-0, in MWC Quarterfinals
By USAHockey.com

COLOGNE, Germany -- Jimmy Howard (Syracuse, N.Y./Detroit Red Wings/University of Maine) made 18 saves, but the U.S. Men’s National Team fell to Finland, 2-0, in the quarterfinals here at the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship at LANXESS Arena.

Team USA finished the world championship with a 6-0-0-2 (W-OTW-OTL-L) mark after tying a U.S. record with six consecutive wins in the preliminary round en route to finishing atop Group A.

“It goes without saying we’re bitterly disappointed,” said Jeff Blashill, head coach of the 2017 U.S. Men’s National Team. “We believed that this team had the ability to win the tournament. They are a great group who cared, were selfless and played some great hockey. Unfortunately, Finland was better than we were today and I congratulate them.”

Neither team scored in the opening frame as Team USA held an 8-6 advantage in shots on goal entering the first intermission. The best chance for either side came on a breakaway attempt by Finland’s Juhamatti Aaltonen with just under five minutes remaining in the period, but Howard made a sprawling pad save to keep the game scoreless.

After a pair of point-blank saves by Howard, Mikko Rantenen buried a rebound on the power play to give Finland a 1-0 lead 1:01 into the second period.

Both teams failed to convert power-play opportunities in the final 11:21 of the second stanza as Finland carried the one-goal advantage into the third period.

Finland made it a two-goal game 6:49 into the final frame when Joonas Kemppainen finished a two-on-one rush.

Team USA pulled Howard for the extra attacker for the majority of the final three minutes of play, but was unable to cut into the Finnish lead.

NOTES: Jimmy Howard was named U.S. Player of the Game … Team USA outshot Finland, 26-20 … The U.S. was 0-for-1 on the power play, while Finland finished 1-for-6 … Johnny Gaudreau, Dylan Larkin and Anders Lee were named Team USA’s three best players of the tournament

Update #5: Here's USA Hockey's post-game clip:

Update #6: From the Buffalo News's John Vogl's recap:

The United States’ time at the world championships ended suddenly Thursday. It entered the elimination round as the hottest team in the tournament, but it could generate little in a 2-0 quarterfinal loss to Finland.

“It goes without saying we’re bitterly disappointed,” U.S. coach Jeff Blashill said in Cologne, Germany. “We believed that this team had the ability to win the tournament. They are a great group who cared, were selfless and played some great hockey.

...

No one on the U.S. squad could score against Finland goaltender Harri Sateri. He made 26 saves for the shutout. Finland beat U.S. goalie Jimmy Howard twice on 20 shots, including a two-on-one with 13:11 left that made it 2-0.

"They did a good job defensively, clogging us up in the zone and made it tough on us all night long," Howard said.

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Comments

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That can’t be good for Mrazek, and thusly the Wings.

Posted by ilovehomers on 05/18/17 at 12:33 PM ET

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Finland is very tough to beat on international stage, no matter what roster they feature, just ask the Russians:). They are too disciplined and always get good performance in goal.
Concerning Czechs went with some unknown goalie and not Mrazek.

Posted by VPalmer on 05/18/17 at 12:40 PM ET

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So Team USA went 4-1 against wannabees like Italy, Latvia, Denmark, Germany, and Slovakia.

When they played legit competition:
-they beat Sweden 4-3…despite being outshot 42 to 27
-they beat Russia 5-3…with an empty net goal
-they were shut out 2-0 by Finland

In these 3 “challenging” games…Howard went 2.67 GAA with a .901 SV%. Nothing special, considering this is a lower-scoring tournament.
Larkin went 1+3=4 and +4. Seems pretty solid.
Dekeyser was +3 against Sweden and even the other 2 games. He had no points. And just a single shot. Not great. Not awful.
Blashill successfully taught about the process.

Posted by fatsavage on 05/18/17 at 12:50 PM ET

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Czech fans not happy with the decision regarding Mrazek.

Posted by Ilovekermit on 05/18/17 at 01:04 PM ET

hockeyfreak13's avatar

You called it, Primis. Trap game. Finland played a suffocating defensive game. Larkin was the best player on the ice for the U.S. in this game. I was not really impressed by Eichel’s play throughout the tourney.

Posted by hockeyfreak13 from Grand Rapids on 05/18/17 at 01:07 PM ET

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Concerning Czechs went with some unknown goalie and not Mrazek.

To be fair to Pavel Francouz, he is unknown in North America, but he is actually one of the best goalies in the KHL. He is very well-known in the Czech Republic, and thought of highly as a goaltender. Still, many Czech fans are saying that it made no sense to not have Mrazek play this game. Coaches haven’t discussed basis of decision yet, unclear if they will.

Posted by Ilovekermit on 05/18/17 at 01:11 PM ET

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You called it, Primis. Trap game. Finland played a suffocating defensive game. Larkin was the best player on the ice for the U.S. in this game. I was not really impressed by Eichel’s play throughout the tourney.

Posted by hockeyfreak13 from Grand Rapids on 05/18/17 at 01:07 PM ET

Agreed. Pretty surprised by Eichel’s poor play. Might be distracted with a bunch of the front-office changes in Buffalo, and how the media has portrayed him as the catalyst for some of this. I think the kid is fiercely competitive and just frustrated at how things in Buffalo have stagnated.

Posted by fatsavage on 05/18/17 at 01:12 PM ET

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Ilovekermit,

Where are you getting this info on Czech fans reaction to Francouz over Mrazek? I searched for, found and translated many Czech language articles from yesterday asking the question of who should start between Mrazek and Francouz. Just about all of them had a poll at the bottom asking readers to choose and Francouz won all of them with 8X%. In one of them, they threw in the 3rd stringer Furch, and even he got more votes than Mrazek…

Posted by Downey20 on 05/18/17 at 02:45 PM ET

SnLO's avatar

I don’t even blame Blashill for this one; the Americans just didn’t have an answer for the FInnish Trap

umm nope. How to break-down/counter the other team is pretty much on the coach. Perhaps the players didn’t execute? plausible.

Posted by SnLO from the binary digisphere on 05/18/17 at 02:53 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

I don’t even blame Blashill for this one; the Americans just didn’t have an answer for the FInnish Trap

I cant agree.  His process was to force all of the offense to run through the backend, handcuffing the creativity of the forwards in the offensive zone.  All the Finns had to do was collapse in the slot and keep shots from getting on goal.  This insistence was even the cause of the 2-0 goal.  This was a coached loss.

Posted by Hootinani from the parade following Babs out of town on 05/18/17 at 02:59 PM ET

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Where are you getting this info on Czech fans reaction to Francouz over Mrazek? I searched for, found and translated many Czech language articles from yesterday asking the question of who should start between Mrazek and Francouz. Just about all of them had a poll at the bottom asking readers to choose and Francouz won all of them with 8X%. In one of them, they threw in the 3rd stringer Furch, and even he got more votes than Mrazek…

FB and Twitter. Of course, it could easily be buyer’s remorse. They don’t like the outcome now, so of course they wanted the other guy. Fans are fans no matter what country, so this is very possible. I wasn’t online much yesterday, so I’m going on the reactions on my social media after the game today. I would believe very much people change their tune afterwards. grin

Posted by Ilovekermit on 05/18/17 at 03:03 PM ET

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Looks like another Euro d-man is looking to move to the NHL. Jan Rutta is a 26-year old RHD with good mobility for a guy that’s 6’2, 210. He’s apparently speaking with 5 or 6 teams. Since our logjam roster looks like a clogged gas station toilet I suspect he’s not speaking to Kenny. Where is Kenny by the way? Getting ready to bring back Smith, Vanek, and Ott? Plan B is Kevin Klein, Brad Boyes, and Darren McCarty?

Posted by fatsavage on 05/18/17 at 03:55 PM ET

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Looks like another Euro d-man is looking to move to the NHL

If we cannot get Swedes, I doubt we have a chance with Czechs. And Rutta is 27 already, not sure he will be a lot better than what we have.

Posted by VPalmer on 05/18/17 at 04:12 PM ET

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Looks like another Euro d-man is looking to move to the NHL

If we cannot get Swedes, I doubt we have a chance with Czechs. And Rutta is 27 already, not sure he will be a lot better than what we have.

Posted by VPalmer on 05/18/17 at 04:12 PM ET

But adding a cheap NHL asset for free (if he is NHL capable - time will tell) gives you more flexibility. Maybe it allows you to flip someone like Jensen or Ouellet, with other picks to move up in the draft? Maybe adding some 20-something Euro free agents (think about the Leafs adding Zaitsev) makes it easier to trade Green at the entry draft as opposed to holding him until the trade deadline and pray he stays healthy? It can’t hurt. If the guy stinks you waive him as they are certainly coming in under $1M.

Posted by fatsavage on 05/18/17 at 04:48 PM ET

Colin's avatar

But adding a cheap NHL asset for free (if he is NHL capable - time will tell) gives you more flexibility. Maybe it allows you to flip someone like Jensen or Ouellet, with other picks to move up in the draft? Maybe adding some 20-something Euro free agents (think about the Leafs adding Zaitsev) makes it easier to trade Green at the entry draft as opposed to holding him until the trade deadline and pray he stays healthy? It can’t hurt. If the guy stinks you waive him as they are certainly coming in under $1M.

Posted by fatsavage on 05/18/17 at 04:48 PM ET

Adding a cheap NHL asset for free is great when you have roster and cap space for him, which are both at a premium on our roster. That and the contracts that desperately need to be moved are immovable (Kronwall, Ericsson). So we would only be adding salary. On Green, rental players generally have higher trade value at the deadline, so it would be best to hold on to him if you expect him to maintain his current level of play. Depending on how good this guy is, I could see a trade of Ouellet and Sproul for a pick and bringing him in, but I want to try to keep Jensen to the best of our ability. He has late-bloomer written all over him.

Posted by Colin on 05/19/17 at 11:48 AM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.

 

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