BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA - APRIL 29: The team of Germany celebrate after the IIHF World Championship group A match between Germany and Russia at Orange Arena on April 29, 2011 in Bratislava, Slovakia. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)
First, a quick recap of yesterday's action:
Germany 2, Russia 0
Dennis Endras had a shutout, and was specatular in the last half of the game when Russia started to play desperate. Thomas Greilinger and Patrick Reimer scored the goals, as Germany played better early to establish the slim lead, and closed it out in fashion with Reimer's backhand deke. I mean, just watch and listen to this glory:
That's the sights and sounds of a country that had never beaten Russia before at the World Championships, and lost to them on home ice last year in the semifinals.
Slovakia 3, Slovenia 1
Boy, this one was tenser than it ought to have been. Slovakia outshot Slovenia badly, but Robert Kristan kicked out a lot of saves (42 overall) to keep it close. Ales Kranjc gave Slovenia the inital lead, but the enough goals came for Slovakia in time to post the regulation win, with Miroslav Satan, Peter Podhradsky and Lubas Bartecko (into an empty net) finding the goals. It's the result that matters most, and the result was as expected.
Switzerland 1, France 0 (OT)
It was a goaltending duel between Christobal Huet (France) and Tobias Stephan (Switzerland), ending in overtime on a goal by Julien Vauclair. The single point is key for France, who will now try and take down Belarus in order to avoid the relegation round. Switzerland should be in good shape to make the next round, even if it took them extra time to get this win.
Canada 4, Belarus 1
All of Canada's goals came from players under the age of 21: Jordan Eberle scored twice, while Jeff Skinner and John Tavares had a goal and an assist each in the win. However, Mikhail Grabovski was probably the best player on the ice, but he couldn't beat his NHL teammate James Reimer. Best story of the day? Defenseman Mario Scalzo, the only Canadian player without any NHL experience or current NHL contract, got two assists in the win.
The other eight teams make their debuts today, highlighted by the defending champions going head to head with Latvia's notoriously awesome fans. The atmosphere in Bratislava today should be special. Finland and Denmark could also be a big game, while the Americans are getting more exposure this year in their home country thanks to NHL broadcasters Versus picking up the tournament. Enjoy the new experience, USA hockey fans. Think of it as a nice bonus to your NHL playoff coverage. Norway and Sweden wrap up the day's games in their very one sided hockey rivalry.