No Saturday morning cartoons today. Time to get up early and watch some hockey! For your viewing pleasure...
Sweden changed strategies in the quarterfinals, shielding their younger players a lot more than they had been, and it'll be interesting to see if that continues into the semifinals. Viktor Hedman only played 15 minutes against Denmark, and leading scorer Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson was limited to less than thirteen. The Czechs have improved steadily throughout the tournament, and have advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 2006, where they won silver. Tomas Vokoun will start for the Czechs, and the Swedes will counter with Jonas Gustavsson.
It's a David vs. Goliath type scenario, with Russia not having lost at the World Championships since Mikko Koivu of Finland scored in overtime in the 2007 semifinals. Meanwhile, Germany is making their first semifinals appearance since the format was introduced in 1992, and first top four placing since winning silver in 1953. Can German goalie Dennis Endras withstand the Russian onslaught?
Oh yeah, and that infamous IIHF.com article called "Saying No to Your Country"? "The tone and the timing were ill chosen," according to IIHF President Rene Fasel. Fasel and the IIHF directorate have been in full damage control on this one.
World Ranking implications: If Russia wins today, they will be again ranked #1 in the world, where they were ranked heading into the Olympics (ahead of Canada). If Germany wins today, they will jump to #8, an almost unheard of four spot improvement thanks to a single tournament. Sweden has already improved to #3 in the world ranking, and would need to win the tournament and have Russia finish fourth to improve to #2. The Czech Republic will be ranked #5 in the world no matter where they finish this tournament.
To read more about the World Ranking process, read this FanPost by dleung17 for a walkthrough. Also read this piece by Mike Chen at From the Rink on how the IIHF values World Championships as equal to the Olympic tournament.