NHL Entry Draft: Top Russian Draft Eligible Prospects

Draft day is upon us and with that comes the final look on the European Leagues top prospects. This time it will be a look into the best of the prospects from Russia, with love.

The wait is over. Its draft day in Vancouver and its time for the prospects of the world to find out what the reward for all the long grueling hours of training will become. This includes a massive draft class from Russia. Just like the Swedes it was a very difficult task to narrow the pool down to four prospects. The fact that goalie prospect Ilya Konovalov had a .930 save procentage in 43 games in the KHL and didn’t make the list should be all the prove needed to showcase that.

Vasili Podkolzin – SKA-Neva St. Petersburg – Winger

Probably the most controversial prospects of  the first round, Podkolzin seems to have people mixed the most. Some are calling him a bust even before he has even been picked, while some see him as the best outside Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko. At the start of May he looked destined to go third overall, but lately he has dropped in the ranking and now looks to go as low as 15th in the draft.

He played in SKA St Petersburgs different teams, with most of his time spend in the MHL and VHL. Here he had an okay year with 13 points in 26 games. For someone who is yet to turn 18, that’s far from bad. He even managed to get a taste of the KHL, although with limited minutes. While Podkolzin hasn’t fully light up the lamp at the club level, he has impressed mightily on the international scene. He was the captain of the under 18 team, where he almost led them to a gold medal, but Russia fell at the last hurdle and had to settle for silver. He also got a bronze medal at his first crack at the juniors. At 17 years of age even being a part of the Russian Junior team, speaks of his talents.

Podkolzins strengths are many and with blinding speed and hands, he can make some amazing plays at high speed he is lethal. Combine that with a great shot and vision and you got a near perfect goal scorer. On top of that he is a very nice size, and a lot of similarities can be made to Alexander Ovechkin in the way he plays the game. His compete level is fantastic and like he showed with the under 18 national team, he is a fine leader. The reason he has dropped seems to be the Russian factor, where he is bound to a contract with SKA St Petersburg for the next 2 seasons. Some teams will struggle to wait that long to see him in action. However, as we seen with Artemi Panarin, the team that can wait, might get a fantastic star at the end of it all.

Pavel Dorofeyev – Metallurg Magnitogorsk – Winger

A beast in the Russian junior leagues, where Pavel Dorofeyev showed that he was far too good. He played 19 games and had 31 points. That’s numbers that more than warranted the call up to the KHL that he got, although it was with more limited ice time at Matallurg. Here he has had 2 points, which isn’t great, but he has played 23 games. That’s not easy to do in Europe’s strongest league at the age of 18. A league that has players who could more than hang in the NHL, and while he wasn’t scoring for fun, he stayed on the team and even getting to play 4 playoff games.

A strong offensive player, who is very similar to Podkolzin in a lot of ways, only a year older. A nice shot, fine speed and a super vision, makes him an exciting player to watch. He possesses good work rates on the defensive areas and is having more than enough talents to produce at a great level in the NHL. But like Podkolzin the thing that hurts his draft stock is his contract situation. Once again, it’s very likely that he won’t come to North America directly, and it will always be a risk that he signs a contract in Russia, that locks him for a little while in the KHL. Some teams wont risk that with their first rounder and therefor he could drop, and if so he could be a great steal to keep an eye on.

Yegor Spiridonov – Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk – Center

The center of Pavel Dorofeyev in the MHL, but unlike his line mate, he stayed the entire year in the MHL, despite dominating it. 41 points in 43 games tells the story of a great season for Spiridonov, who also was a key part of the Russian team that made it all the way to the finals, in the under 18 world championship. Here he had six points in the seven games.

The strengths of Spiridonov is his two way ability. Similar to a player like Mikko Koivu, his defensive awareness and discipline when it comes to the defensive duties is second to no. If a shot needs to be blocked he will do it, and with great physicality his a able to win a lot of the battles at the boards. He is a coach’s best friend in a lot of ways. However, as good as the defensive abilities of Spiridonov is, the offense is lacking behind. Although he keeps the puck well as he enters the zone, his skating his not great. Its something that needs a lot of work from the team that picks him. But with his work rates and pride as he plays, im confident that he is more than capable of being a fine NHL player, that might even be able in the mid rounds.

Pyotr Kochetkov – SKA-Neva St. Petersburg – Goalie

An absolute brick wall at the world juniors where he was deservingly so named the best goalie of the tournmant, has risen his stock a lot. Follow that up with some fine domestic performances and the 19-year-old, might finally get drafted. While most of the season was in VHL he was putting up fantastic numbers for St Petersburgs VHL team. 18 games and a .930 and .955 in the playoff is worth taking note of.

Twice he has been passed but I can’t see the same happen in Vancouver as he is a well sized goalie at 6’3 who is able to cover the net well and with his great agility and quickness he is absolutely one of the better goalies in the draft. Where he needs to work on his game is his aggressiveness that can see him overcommit and leave too much net open on a rebound. However, that is something that corrected with the right training and I could see him become a starter in the future.

Puck 77 NHL Draft Scouting Reports

We’ve compiled all of the scouting reports done by the various members of the Puck77 team for the NHL Draft here in one easy location so you can jump right to the player you want!

Our Top-12

1. 🇺🇸 Jack Hughes, C, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Jack Hughes by Tony Ferrari

2. 🇫🇮 Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS (Liiga): Deep Dive Scouting Report of Kaapo Kakko by Tony Ferrari

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3. 🇺🇸 Alex Turcotte, C, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Alex Turcotte by Tony Ferrari

4. 🇨🇦 Bowen Byram, LHD, Vancouver Giants (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Bowen Byram by Tony Ferrari

5. 🇺🇸 Trevor Zegras, C/LW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Trevor Zegras by Tony Ferrari

6. 🇨🇦 Dylan Cozens, C, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Dylan Cozens by Tony Ferrari

7. 🇺🇸 Cole Caufield, LW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Cole Caufield by Tony Ferrari

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8. 🇨🇦 Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon Blades (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Kirby Dach by Tony Ferrari

9. 🇨🇦 Alex Newhook, C, Vancouver Grizzlies (BCHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Alex Newhook by Tony Ferrari

10. 🇨🇦 Peyton Krebs, C, Kootenay/Winnipeg Ice (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Peyton Krebs by Tony Ferrari

11. 🇺🇸 Matthew Boldy, RW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Matthew Boldy by Tony Ferrari

12. 🇷🇺 Vasili Podkolzin, RW, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Vasili Podkolzin by Tony Ferrari

Other Intriguing Prospects

2019 NHL Draft: What makes Philip Tomasino such an intriguing prospect? by Spencer Loane

2019 NHL Draft Deep Dive: Arthur Kaliyev by Spencer Teixeira

NHL Draft Profile: Nolan Foote by Spencer Teixeira

Come back for more profiles as they are updated and added! Thanks for stopping by!

Puck77

IIHF World Hockey Championship: Recapping The Finals

FINLAND HAS WON THE 2019 IIHF WORLD HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIPS  AND ACHIVED THE IMPOSSIBLE ON THE FINAL DAY

The IIHF World Hockey Championships ended just like they began. Finland upsetting Canada. Stunning Canada and more than likely most of the hockey world as they grabbed the gold medal in front of Canada and Russia who won the bronze medal over Czech Republic earlier in the day.

 

Czech Republic 2-3 Russia

Czech Republic: When the going gets tough, you need your very best to step up. For the Czech Republic that’s Jakub Voracek and sadly he went missing in the finals this weekend.

And with his absence, the rest of the first line, who had scored goals for fun in the group stage, vanished as well. They lacked finish and that one save to really help them to a medal. Also, a good way to avoid losing is to not allow goals within the first minute of a period. For the second day in a row that happened to the Czechs in the second period.

The tournament as a whole was pretty good from the Czechs. They had a blinding group stage in front of a brilliant crowd in Bratislava, but sadly they just lacked one goal to give them something to truly celebrate. The fans will be happy with the effort in a few days and they can be super proud, but tonight they will be disappointed.

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Russia: Andrei Vasilevskiy has played some of the best hockey I’ve seen from a goalie in World Championships history. Especially in the final weekend of the tournament. And once again tonight he was stunning in net. Making breathtaking saves when the Russians really needed him and due to his play, they can travel back to Moscow with a medal. It won’t heal the wounds from yesterday’s loss, but it will soften the blow a little bit.

Overall, they had an amazing start to the tournament but when crunch-time hit, they sadly couldn’t find the needed offense a team like Alexander Ovechkin, Nikita Kucherov and Nikita Gusev should possess. This ended up costing them a spot in the finals and a much finer medal.

 

Finland 3-1 Canada

Finland: FINLAND ARE GOLD MEDAL WINNERS IN SLOVAKIA!

They have managed to create the biggest upset since the Miracle on Ice in 1980! Yes, that is a bold statement and a gold medal to Finland doesn’t sound like the biggest of hockey upsets but let me set the scene.

Finland had two players who play in the National Hockey League, Henri Jokiharju and Juho Lammikko. Players who played less than 80 games combined this season! Overall this team has less than 200 games in the NHL. This is a European league team, and they went up against three near pure NHL teams.

Sweden first with 8345 NHL games combined. Finland beat them in overtime after being behind 3-1. Next up Russia. A team with all the stars and the worlds best goalie. Defeated them 1-0. And now Canada. A full NHL team swept aside by the Finns. Logically this shouldn’t be happening, but it did.

How did it happen?

I’m not quite sure myself, but once again I’m finding myself going back to the miracle in 1980. A team of fine hockey players and young talent, but nothing more. They seemed eons behind teams like the Soviets.

But in the end, they won the gold that shocked the world. Now almost 40 years later history feels to have repeated itself. A Finnish team with numerous NHL players declining to go, forcing coach Jukka Jalonen to play the younger talents like Kaapo Kakko and Jokiharju in big roles. Nobody gave them a chance to win. Most even saw them missing the knockout stage.

However, something that can always beat talent and NHL experience is hard work and a willingness to sacrifice everything to create a miracle. Finland did not have the best team on paper, but they were the best TEAM. They worked for everything and when needed they got the lucky bounces. And like Team USA’s Jim Craig in Lake Placid, Finland found stunning goaltending from Kevin Lankinen when they were put under pressure.

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Tonight was no different. The Finns went down in the first and once again had to fight back. And once again they did. Lankinen made key stops when it mattered, the post and bounces went their way and all of a sudden up stepped the captain and unlikeliest of heroes Marko Antilla.

A player that normally is found on the fourth line on the KHL team Jokirit, Antilla scored the two most important goals of his career and shocked the hockey-watching world. And thanks to some super saves in net and a warrior’s mentality to block every shot, the Finns held on. They have done the impossible and from all of us at Puck77, I congratulate the Finns on a fantastic tournament and the gold medals.

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Canada: An intermission can change a lot. And tonight, Canada learned that the hard way.

They had the game under control and were dominating, leading after the first period. They’ve been solid all tournament when taking the lead, and if they had continued with their amazing intensity and physicality they were surely going to break the Finish players. Out they come for the second period, and complacency starts showing. The ruthless offense and counterattack is nowhere to be found and all of a sudden its tied 1-1. From then it’s a completely different game and when Finland struck again, Canada was on the back foot.

You could easily argue Canada was the better team in this game, and I would also say that you would be correct. With 44 shots in the game and 21 of those coming in the third shows that.

Sadly, they couldn’t find a way past goaltender Lankinen despite some good chances generated by Mark Stone and Sam Reinhart hitting the crossbar. And in the middle of all that was a floater on the first Finish attack that got by goaltender Matt Murray. One that he probably should have had, but in these games the hockey gods are cruel. Murray has been fantastic this tournament and even had an okay game, but in the end he faltered where Lankinen and Finland stood tall to hoist the Cup.

Lastly from myself I just wanted to say thank you for reading the daily recaps and I hope you enjoyed the coverage and the World Championships itself. 

Statistics provided by Eliteprospects and TSN

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

IIHF World Hockey Championship: Recapping The Semi-finals

The fantastic Finns journey continued as they created another unbelievable upset to make the finals of the Worlds

The finalists have been found and it will be a repeat of the 2016 Final between Finland and Canada.

Finland deserves all the respect in the world. They are a team who has two NHLers in the rosters and neither got a goal this year. On team Russia they had 240+ goals this season. Yet they beat them and not just by luck. They beat them 1-0 in a game where they were deserving of the win.

In the other game, Canada blitzed past the Czechs who looked stunned and couldn’t find a way past Matt Murray.

Russia 0-1 Finland

Russia: The gold favorites has been eliminated in the semifinals! The Russian machine that has looked next to unstoppable throughout the tournament was shut down today by an amazing Finnish team, but also a lack of intensity shown from Russia. The fluent offense, where they seemed to always find room and passing lanes, was missing and combined with a tactically superior Finnish team. Then the offense came off the counter attacks, and here they had chances and some even fantastic, but they weren’t converting them like they have in games prior. Nikita Gusev was a shadow of himself and was one of the worst players on the ice. Alexander Ovechkin was trying a lot, had a few great chances but the puck just wouldn’t go. Like the rest of the Russians, his shot either went over the bar, hit it, or were robbed by the Finnish netminder.

Defensively I didn’t like Russia’s game either, since they made a lot of mistakes in the breakouts. The only reason the Russians only coincided one was due to a stunning performance from Andrei Vasilevskiy. He was absolutely awesome, and he made some fantastic saves, but little did it help in the end.

While Russia still have a bronze medal to fight for tomorrow against Czech Republic, this tournament and team had one clear goal. To win the gold medals and take the trophy back to Moscow. Today that mission failed and all they can do is get a minor bandage to the cover the stab wound.

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Finland: The Finnish Cinderella story will just not end. Winning against Sweden was stunning and an upset of the ages. For the encore, they beat the Russian NHL superstars to advance to the finals. And to make it even more impressive they did it in deserving fashion.

As the game started, it was clear that the Russians weren’t going to walk over Finland, like I think a few people feared. The structure and discipline from Finland were phenomenal and they never parted from the game plan. Every single player stuck to the plan and did everything they needed to do. Russia got stopped up the middle so many times due to them covering the passing lanes that Russia loves to hit, and then break on the counter. I don’t think I noticed one pinch that wasn’t timed to perfecting from the Finns. To do that for 60 minutes commands a lot of respect. They might not be the biggest names in hockey, but right now they seem to be the best TEAM in hockey. They fight and puts it all on the line and with a goalie like Kevin Lankinen, who is standing on his head, they are so tough to break down.

If Finland wins this tournament, with a team of European league players, it will be the biggest upset winner since Slovakia won in 2002. Especially considering the sheer talent they faced. And in that case, I hope Finland can build a statue of Lankinen or Marko Anttila. Both deserves to be praised for the contributions in the Worlds, but only if they win. And that requires one more win. A win against powerhouse Canada. A rematch of the first game of the tournament. To win they need to play another perfect game like that one.

Canada 5-1 Czech Republic

Canada: A flying start to the second period resulted in a goal after just ten seconds. After that Canada was in full control and ended up winning in commanding fashion. At least on the scoreboard, cause one of the main reasons for the win was a heroic performance in net by birthday boy, Matt Murray. He was showing the fans in Bratislava exactly why he won 2 Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh, with at least eight stunning saves. Especially in the end of the periods he was keeping the score comfortable for the Canucks. The offense was fantastic and lead by Mark Stone, they are a tough team to contain for 60 minutes.

If there was one negative that must be fixed ahead of tomorrow’s final, it’s the amount of passing lanes they gave up in the slot. Matt Murray had way too much to do and had to make a lot of key stop from that area of the ice. Finland will look to punish that, just as they did in the first game.

Is it going to be the return of the old rulers of hockey from Canada? Or will the underdogs find a way to end another hockey giant’s tournament in misery? To me it depends on the first goal. Canada showed today that once they have they lead, they are near impossible to play against and they will strike to extend it when given the chance in a hurry. However, Finland has shown the same. Take the first meeting against the two. Finland gets the lead and Canada start to chase. A little bit later and Finland punishes them.

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Czech Republic: They were perhaps a bit too respectful of Canada in the start of the game and sat back too much. This gave Canada a lot of possession and momentum and Canada promptly punished that. The goal did seem to wake up the Czechs and they were the better team the rest of the period. Creating chances and pressuring Canada at every moment but lacking finish.

Then disaster struck just ten seconds into the second period. A bad rebound by Patrik Bartosak and it was 2-0 Canada. From there Czech Republic looked flat and the crowd seemed to loss all its energy and hope when Pierre-Luc Dubois made it 3-0 and ended Bartosak’s night. They once again tried to rebound and created the chances, but it just wouldn’t go. Down 3-0 in the third and the game was done for the Czechs.  They did play a good tournament and have a chance of capping it off in style. Against the rivals from Russia. A win could easily salvage the worlds for them, but it takes a monumental task, or hoping the Russian stars don’t care about the game, for the Czechs to win.

Puck77

IIHF World Hockey Championship: Recapping The Quarterfinals

The quarterfinals were played today, and all four games were filled with spectacular drama

What a day at the IIHF World Hockey Championships. It had everything you could ask for and then an added upset of epic proportions near the end of it. If you ask me this is the best quarterfinals day I have seen in an international hockey tournament.

In Bratislava the results were as expected. Russia won against the USA and the Czech Republic beat Germany. However, both games were close and could have gone either way if the puck bounced differently on a few plays.

Kosice became the overtime city today. First Canada won in a heartbreaking finish for the Swiss in a game that will be talked about for years. In the other game Finland created an upset in overtime against Sweden.

 

Switzerland 2-3 Canada

Switzerland: 0.4 seconds was all that separated them from another sensational run and win. Up until that point they had played the perfect hockey game.

Yes, they were second best and they were under pressure for all of the third period. But they were leading. They had been great at creating chances on the rush and counter attack. The powerplay was working like a treat. And most importantly they had goaltender Leonardo Genoni, who once again was phenomenal. Stopping everything and all he needed to do was to stop one more shot from the point. That was it. But hockey is a strange and cruel game and the puck just squeezed by him and into the net.

In overtime they had a few good chances, but in OT all it takes is one misplayed hit. Nino Niederreiter missed a hit on Pierre-Luc Dubois and with that the game was sealed.

Massive credit to Switzerland and all my sympathy to them. They once again battled with all they had and potentially even a bit more than that. They are hard working and they would run though a titanium wall  if it meant a win. This loss will sting, but the Swiss can feel proud of their team.

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Canada: Mark Stone may have become the overtime hero, but the true hero of Team Canada is Damon Severson. Tying a game where they threw everything they got at the net without results is amazing. Doing it with 0.4 seconds left is the stuff of legends.

Revenge for last year’s semifinal loss was achieved in a game that was a near copy past from that game. Canada did everything right but score and kill penalties. One of the Swiss goals came with three seconds left after the second period. A period where Canada was outplaying the Swiss. Déjà vu was the word I was planning to use but then the biggest moment of Severson’s career happened, and the rest is history.

Canada will use tomorrow to move to Bratislava, where they have a tough game against home team Czech Republic in the semis. Not an easy game at all and one where they can not wait this long to win. They wont always be able to score with one second left on a desperate slapshot.

USA 3-4 Russia

USA: They fought hard to overcome a nightmare first period. Down two within ten minutes and you feared the worst. After that they worked their way into the game and made it close, but the last goal eluded them in the end.

To beat Russia a few bounces are needed. USA didn’t get those. The best players need to be the best and outside of a great pass in the last three minutes from Patrick Kane, the stars for USA didn’t perform. And a stellar goaltending performance is needed. While goaltender Cory Schneider was good for most of the game, his first period left the Americans in a chasing position they couldn’t recover from. Therefore, they have to leave the tournament empty handed.

And with the loss comes another reality for the USA organization: It’s going to be at least 60 years since USA last won gold in the World Championships. Forty years since they last won something with the men’s team. For a country and hockey nation of USA’s size, that’s bonkers and honestly unacceptable. The team was there this year, but they lacked goaltending and structure, and against Russia it proved costly.

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Russia: It wasn’t the dominance the first ten minutes was foreshadowing, but on the back of an amazing effort by goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, Russia got the job done. He was absolutely stunning once again and despite three goals against he was the difference today.

USA had plenty of chances and for the first time in the tournament they looked vulnerable on the backend. They allowed a lot of odd man rushes and passes to go into the slot. Another key part of the win was that they managed to stay out of the box. They were disciplined and that’s been something they lacked for most of this tournament. They now have to get ready for a very interesting game against the surprise of this year’s worlds in Finland. On paper this should be a cake walk, but as Sweden found out, it requires a good strong game for all 60 minutes to break the Finns.

Czech Republic 5-1 Germany

Czech Republic: It took some time, but the goals finally came in the third period. It was deserved after a good game on home ice in Bratislava. They were more disciplined than they have been throughout the tournament and with a solid performance from goaltender Patrik Bartosak they are hard to beat.

While the first line only connected for one goal, it was in the clutch and the eventual game winner from Jakub Voracek. The third line (especially Jan Kovar) was tonight’s hero for the Czechs with three points.

Next up is Canada for them and here they have to play at their very best to win. The crowd in Bratislava will be cheering them along all the way, but even with support, Canada is not an easy team to beat. The first line needs to click once again and Bartosak needs to stand on his head for them to have a chance.

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Germany: The Germans finally had to surrender after really good campaign. They fought valiantly and have had some stellar goaltending while being the most effective team I’ve seen. They seem to score on every chance they get in the tournament. Something that gave them five wins in eight games.

Tonight, both of those keys to the German success went missing in the last half of the game, and without those they were convincingly beat. Philipp Grubauer seemed to struggle and at least two or three of the goals were savable. His night was perfectly illustrated as a funny bounce caught him out of position to make it 4-1. A goal that essentially was the dagger for the Germans hope of advancing.

Leon Draisaitl had a chance to give them the lead on a breakaway. In the games before he has scored on those. In this one he missed. And for that reason, the fans from Czech Republic can sing “Deutschland, Deutschland alles ist vorbei” in the streets of Bratislava.

Finland 5-4 Sweden

Finland: The fairytale continues as the Finish underdogs stormed the castle and overthrew the reigning kings of the World Championship. With pure determination and a few lucky bounces, they found a way to keep the game close. A 3-1 deficit just after the second period and things looked impossible. But just like in fairytales the impossible tends to become possible. A few point shots and Finland were tied at 3. The Swedes retaliated and retook the lead, withstanding the rebelling rivals.

Finland had possession and momentum both but were unable to score it seemed. Not all fairytales have a happy ending and with two minutes left this was looking to be the case. However, the captain of the Finns, a giant named Marko Anttila wanted it otherwise. With 1:30 left he found a loss puck in the crease and got it past the King of the Swedish crease, Henrik Lundqvist, sending the game to overtime.

A counter attack with “Three Finish Musketeers” sealed the deal as Sakari Manninen fired a shot into the top corner creating Finnish jubilation and Swedish despair. Next up in the quest for gold is Russia standing in its way. A game that will be as tough, if not tougher, but we learned today that Finland is a team that should not be taken for granted.

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Sweden: The reigning champions are no more in the World Championships. That’s the case after tonight where another terrible second period was the killing blow for the Swedes.

Similar to the game against Russia, they looked flat and panicky through 18 minutes of it. The only two minutes of the second period Sweden was good was the first minute and the last. Subsequently that gave them a lead at the second intermission, but the gave up so much momentum that it ended up hurting them in the third period. They were dominated by Finland. A team with one NHL player in the lineup. For a team like Sweden with 21 NHL players, that is unacceptable. Sure, they were a little unlucky in the end, but this is nobody but Sweden’s own fault.

And to make it worse they lost to their “little” brother as they like to call Finland. This will be a thing that will sting them for a long while, since they were tipped as the team to challenge Russia and win a third championship in a row. But no kings live forever, and no reign is eternal. And like in the Lion King, this reign was ended by their own brother.

Statistics provided by Eliteprospects and TSN

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals