MANNHEIM, GERMANY - MAY 18: Jaromir Jagr of Czech Republic tries to score against Kris Russell and goalkeeper Chris Mason (R-L) of Canada during the IIHF World Championship group F qualification round match between Canada and Czech Republic at SAP Arena on May 18, 2010 in Mannheim, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)
The formalities are taken care of, the dirty laundry has been aired, and the Norwegians have left the country. It's time to find out who of the final eight teams will compete for a medal. There are four games being held today, and all of them should be fairly accessible on TV, though not as much through network webcast. Here's the schedule:
Finland has been led offensively by veteran defenseman Petteri Nummelin and forward Jarko Immonen, but their true strength has been their team's ability to control possession. When they've needed the saves, Pekka Rinne and Petri Vehanen have done the trick, splitting the six games to date. I'd expect them to turn to Rinne for this matchup, though. The Czechs continue to be led by Jaromir Jagr, but they have also gotten a surprising performance from Jiri Novotony while Tomas Rolinek has scored three shorthanded goals. Tomas Vokoun is the undisputed go to guy in goal, carrying a .933 SV% into this game.
This game is on TSN in Canada, and likely Universal Sports in the USA. You can buy it online at the IIHF website.
UPDATE: Jan Marek and Lukas Kaspar score for the Czechs in the shootout as they knock off the Finns 2-1. Michal Rozsival earned the Best Player honours for the Czech Republic, Pekka Rinne for Finland.
If this were a battle of seafaring, the Danes would have this wrapped up. Hockey? It should be Sweden, especially with talented youngsters like Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson and Viktor Hedman turning in top level results. Denmark has relied upon their young stars as well, like Philip Larsen on defense, Peter Regin up front and Patrick Galbraith in goal. This is Denmark's best ever finish no matter the result, but a tournament win over their more hockey mad neighbors would make this a tournament the country will never forget. Sweden has split goaltenders so far, but the safe bet is that they will start Jonas Gustavsson over Jakub Markstrom.
This game is on TSN2 in Canada, and possibly Universal Sports in the USA.
UPDATE: Rickard Wallin's shorthanded goal in the 2nd period stood up as the winner as Sweden beat Denmark 4-2. Niklas Persson was awarded the Best Player for Sweden, Stefan Lassen won Best Player for Denmark.
Will this be Russian revenge for Vancouver? Russia hasn't lost at the World Championships since 2007, and look unbeatable here. Their first two lines are Alexander Ovechkin-Sergei Fedorov-Alexander Semin followed by Ilya Kovalchuk-Pavel Datsyuk-Evgeni Malkin. Canada counters with a lot of young faces like John Tavares, Matt Duchene, and of course, Steven Stamkos. Captain Ray Whitney, though, has been the top offensive performer to date as the young Canadians have struggled to find top form. Chris Mason will be up against Semyon Varlamov in goal.
UPDATE: Russia gets their revenge, and continue their dominant run at the World Championships with a convincing 5-2 win. Evgeni Malkin scored twice (and enraged several Canadian players), and Ilya Kovalchuk had three assists to lead the way. Maxim Afinogenov and Kyle Cumiskey took home their team's best player honours.
This could be a defining moment for German hockey, as their national team have given their fans plenty to celebrate with their strong defensive play and goaltending. Dennis Endras has given the Germans a chance to win every game with his 1.22 GAA and .944 SV% to date, as Germany has relied on all four lines to score a handful of goals between them. The late addition of Christian Ehrhoff has also been huge, playing over 23 minutes a night since arriving for the qualification round. The Swiss had a great start, but looked listless against Sweden in the final round robin game. They have relied on Andreas Ambuhl and Martin Pluss offensively, and solid goaltending from former NHLer Martin Gerber.
This game is on TSN2 in Canada, and probably every pub in Germany.
UPDATE: The IIHF website is getting a little overzealous by calling this the "Miracle at Mannheim", but a single goal by Philip Gogulla was all German goalie Dennis Endras needed in a 41 save shutout that guarantees the hosts will play on the final day for a medal.
Semifinals set for Saturday: Sweden vs. Czech Republic (8:00 AM EST); Russia vs. Germany (12:00 PM EST)