While teams still in contention for the Stanley Cup continue to battle it out in the playoffs, the best of the rest are in Russia for this year’s World Hockey Championships.
Games will be early – sometimes in the twilight hours of the morning – as the tournament is once again overseas. That said, this year’s tournament will have some interesting storylines to follow, so it might do you good to set that alarm.
For most Canadians, the main reason we watch the tournament every year is for… Well, the Canadians. But stakes are even higher this year as Team Canada won last year’s tournament and will be looking for back-to-back gold medals. That hasn’t been done since Canada did it in 2003 and 2004.
Here’s a look at the roster Canada will be icing:
|31||Calvin Pickard||G||Winnipeg, MB||Colorado|
|33||Cam Talbot||G||Caledonia, ON||Edmonton|
|6||Cody Ceci||D||Orleans, ON||Ottawa|
|7||Michael Matheson||D||Pointe-Claire, QC||Florida|
|8||Chris Tanev||D||Toronto, ON||Vancouver|
|10||Ben Hutton||D||Brockville, ON||Vancouver|
|14||Matt Dumba||D||Calgary, AB||Minnesota|
|27||Ryan Murray||D||White City, SK||Columbus|
|44||Morgan Reilly||D||West Vancouver, BC||Toronto|
|4||Taylor Hall||F||Kingston, ON||Edmonton|
|9||Matt Duchene ‘A’||F||Haliburton, ON||Colorado|
|11||Brendan Gallagher||F||Tsawwassen, BC||Montreal|
|16||Max Domi||F||Toronto, ON||Arizona|
|19||Derrick Brassard||F||Hull, QC||New York|
|23||Sam Reinhart||F||West Vancouver, BC||Buffalo|
|24||Corey Perry ‘C’||F||Peterborough, ON||Anaheim|
|38||Boone Jenner||F||Dorchester, ON||Columbus|
|55||Mark Scheifele||F||Kitchener, ON||Winnipeg|
|61||Mark Stone||F||Winnipeg, MB||Ottawa|
|63||Brad Marchand||F||Hammonds Plains, NS||Boston|
|90||Ryan O’Reilly ‘A’||F||Varna, ON||Buffalo|
|97||Connor McDavid||F||Newmarket, ON||Edmonton|
It’s an intriguing roster, with the annual mix of veterans and youngsters that should make things entertaining. Where else will you see Connor McDavid and Brad Marchand join forces?
Here’s how Canada lined up at practice today:
While the Flames didn’t send as many players as they had hoped (four declined), there’s still a few members of the organization heading over to Russia.
Mikael Backlund, who just had a career-best 47 points this season, will be representing Team Sweden at the World Championship for the fourth time in his career. He won silver with them in 2011, and bronze in both 2010 and 2014. He’s also captured two silver medals playing for Sweden at the World Juniors in 2008 and 2009. He’ll be looking for his first-ever gold medal this year.
The other member of the Flames going isn’t a player, it’s general manager Brad Treliving. He’s the co-GM of Team Canada and will be representing his country for the first time at the international level. We won’t get to see him in any action, but it’s nice to know he’s a part of the team.
Teams have been more willing to add young players to their rosters in recent years, and that should result in some exciting matchups this year.
Auston Matthews and the Americans going against Patrik Laine and the Finns? How about Connor McDavid for Canada matching up against fellow Calder Trophy nominee Artemi Panarin and the host Russians?
Need I say more? Datsyuk is always an exciting player to watch, but this could be the last time we get the chance to see him playing against other NHLers. He has been hinting at retiring from the NHL to return to his homeland and play out his career in the KHL. This tournament could be the Magic Man’s final trick.
Groups and Schedule
Group action starts Friday, with everyone playing each team in their group once. The top four from each group advance to the quarterfinals. Here’s a look at both groups:
|Group A||Group B|
Team Canada’s first game should be a good one, going up against Auston Matthews and the Americans. That game starts Friday at 6:15am.
Here’s the rest of Canada’s preliminary schedule for the tournament:
- Friday, May 6, 7:15 a.m. vs USA
- Sunday, May 8, 3:15 a.m. vs Hungary
- Monday, May 9, 7:15 a.m. vs Belarus
- Thursday, May 12, 11:15 a.m. vs Germany
- Saturday, May 14, 11:15 a.m. vs Slovakia
- Monday, May 16, 7:15 a.m. vs France
- Tuesday, May 17, 11:15 a.m. vs Finland
Canada’s toughest opponents will no doubt be the Americans and the Finns, their first and final match-ups of the preliminary round.
Canada is a shoe-in to advance to the quarterfinals, where they’ll match-up first against a Group A opponent. They’ll want to seed high in Group B to avoid having to play Russia or Sweden.
Here’s the knockout round schedule:
- Quarterfinal: Thursday, May 19 TBD
- Semifinal: Saturday, May 21 TBD
- Bronze Medal Game: Sunday, May 22, 7:15 a.m.
- Gold Medal Game: Sunday, May 22, 11:45 a.m.
From Backlund and Treliving, to Matthews and Laine, to the Magic Man Pavel Datsyuk, there’s plenty of reasons to tune into this year’s World Championships.
Set those alarms.