NHL Draft: German League Prospects For The Draft

Only seven days remain before the 2019 National Hockey League entry draft and prospects from all over the world will be gathered to see their fate. Among the prospects, there are a few of them that will be coming from Germany. 

The journey to the NHL is long and hard and while it’s still heavily dominated by the Canadian players, the Europeans are starting to gain more and more momentum. Over the next week or so, I will try to look at the players from the European leagues that could be stars in the NHL down the road and late round steals.

First up is Germany. We’ve seen quite a bit of top talent coming from Germany. Players like Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers and Philip Grubauer of the Colorado Avalanche have been stellar in the NHL. On the international scene, German hockey has created near miracles, something that Puck77’s Wally Mazurek also focused on in his article from earlier this week. But how do the Germans stack up ahead of the 2019 entry draft and what players from their leagues is worth keeping a small eye on during the draft?

Moritz Seider – Adler Mannheim – Defender

The next German star of the NHL is well within the cards for 18-year-old Moritz Seider. Talks have him to being taken mid-first round and for good reason. The Mannheim defender has had a dream season, where his first of many great achievements came when, at the age of 17, he  took the German Under-20 team back to the World Juniors top division as its captain. To be the captain at that age is something unique, but his young age didn’t show in the tournament. He was a star player for the Germans, getting seven points in  five games for the Germans.

Embed from Getty Images

In the domestic league, he helped Adler Mannheim win their seventh league title. And once again the young defender was a key part of it, playing 43 games for the club. While his points production wasn’t as good as it was at the junior levels, he held his own and played in all the 14 playoff games.

To end the season, he also got to shine doing the IIHF Worlds Championships, where he was playing extremely well for Germany, with strong play on the blue line on both sides of the zone. He never looked out of place on the German team and for a teenager playing against men and NHLers, that’s one of the biggest compliments to receive. Sadly, his tournament ended on a sour note as he was taken out with a minor injury against Slovakia.

Seider is possibly one of the best mid-to-late first rounders in a few years and with his size and speed he can become a great pick and, in my opinion, would be one of the major steals of the draft if he were to drop outside the top 20. He has all the tools and skills to become one of the better defenders in the league if he continues his development.

Simon Gnyp – Kölner Haie – Defender

Last year was a fantastic year for German hockey. Not only due to the success in the Worlds and Under-20 team getting promoted back to the Worlds Juniors, but also due to the success of the Under-18 team.

Under the leadership of captain Simon Gnyp, they also gained promotion to the top of Under-18 hockey. Like Seider, he also showed a great ability to get points from the blueline during this tournament as he grabbed eight points in just five games. A huge part of the reason for the promotion and its very likely that he will be a part of the World Juniors next winter for the Germans.

Embed from Getty Images

Gnyp has somewhat been overshadowed by Sieder in a lot of the German prospect talks, but Gnyp has played 14 games in the DEL against the best that Germany has to offer, and at only 17-years-old that is a monumental achievement. And while he wasn’t a regular in the Kölner line-up, he did manage to find a lot of success on the Under-20 level at Kölner EC U20, where he had 35 points in just 29 games. Being a point a game in any league is good. But when it’s done as a freshman in the junior league its worth taking note of.

His one weakness is his size. At only 5’11″ and 179 lbs., he is on the smaller side when it comes to the NHL build for a defenseman. However, as we seen with players like Jared Spurgeon and Samuel Girard, its more than possible to break into the NHL even with a smaller frame. I see him going in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he turns out to be one of those picks that people look back on with a lot of pride in a few years as he dons an NHL uniform.

Nino Kinder – Eisbären Berlin U20 – Center

The top scorer of the German Under-18 team and another part of the aforementioned team that gained promotion, Nino Kinder’s nine points was a key part in their success. Especially since he always found a way to score the key goals in the tournament, with very important tallies against Kazakhstan and Denmark.

Within Germany, he has mostly been apart of the Under-20 team in Berlin although he has had a small taste of Men’s hockey with five DEL games to his name. In the Under-20 league, he has been good and shown a lot of nice signs with a lot of offense. With 41 points in 33 games, and 17 goals to his name, its clear to see that he can find the back of the net at the junior level in Germany.

Embed from Getty Images

The major question now is if it can be transferred to the big leagues. Next season will be a very important year for him where he more than likely will feature more heavily in DEL. This is yet to be confirmed and this could scare off a lot of teams from looking his way despite a fine international showing, at least in the early rounds. I see him as a late pick, potentially even seventh round that by a team hoping that his skills at the junior levels will be showing as he takes the next step in his career.

Jan-Luca Schumacher – Jungadler Mannheim U20 – Center/winger

While Jan-Luca Schumacher has never played a game in DEL, his stats in the juniors in Germany is astonishing. Well over a point and a half per game in over 30 games for Mannheim tells the story of his talent.  A great playmaker at the junior levels, he has all the tools to go quite far. At only 17, he has time to grow as well and he might have as he has a smaller frame.

Schumacher was a major part of the U18 German team who won the promotion, where he got six points. And like Kinder, he also made some key contributions along the way.

Schumacher and Kinder are very similar players and they both are going to have to show that they can break into the men’s league and transfer their fantastic play to the senior level. And that is a lot easier said then done, so his lack of senior level might hurt his draft stock, since the pure junior players that tend to be picked in the first couple of rounds are playing in the juniors in North America. Therefore, I feel he would be another late round pick from a team looking for a steal.

Statistics Provided By EliteProspects

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals 

 

Germany Is Quickly Becoming A Hockey Powerhouse

Germany in recent years have risen to become a great Hockey country. Established players like Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers and Philipp Grubauer of the Colorado Avalanche stand out, but they have a lot of young talent.

Embed from Getty Images

While there are many more great hockey countries (like Canada, USA, Sweden, Russia, Finland), I believe that Germany is quickly moving up in the hockey world ever since the 2018 Winter Olympics where they placed 2nd overall.

Who are the players in the NHL now?

This year, 2018-2019, there were eight German players in the NHL (via Elite Prospects). Six were skaters and the other two were goalies. All together they totaled 371 games played (5th most since 09-10). Their 68 goals, 98 assists and 166 points rank 2nd, 4th and 2nd respectively (since 09/10). It just shows how great this group is.

The players who played this year include: Leon Draisaitl – Edmonton Oilers (105 points), Dominik Kahun – Chicago Blackhawks (37 points), Tobias Rieder – Edmonton Oilers (11 points), Tom Kühnhackl – New York Islanders (nine points), Korbinian Holzer – Anaheim Ducks (four points), Nico Sturm – Minnesota Wild (zero points), Thomas Greiss – New York Islanders (2.28 GAA .927 SV%) and Philipp Grubauer – Colorado Avalanche (2.64 GAA .917 SV%).

It’s clear that Germany has a lot of talent in the NHL, but how many quality prospects do they have in the system?

Who are the most promising young players for Germany?

In the past five years (14-18) there has been six German players selected in the NHL Entry Draft. This list includes: Leon Draisaitl (3rd overall, 2014), Frederik Tiffels (167th overall, 2015), Manuel Wiederer (150th overall, 2016), Leon Gawanke (136th overall, 2017), Dominik Bokk (25th overall, 2018) and finally Justin Schütz (170th overall, 2018). Only one of these players has made the NHL, Leon Draisaitl, but all of Manuel Wiederer, Leon Gawanke and Dominik Bokk have signed their ELC’s.

Now what does the draft pool look like for Germany? Well this year the top German prospect is defenseman, Moritz Seider. 

Moritz Seider

Embed from Getty Images

I’m gonna hand this part off to, Tony Ferrari, one of our prospect gurus at Puck77. Ferrari recently wrote a profile post on Seider. Below, is a section from his profile.

“Moritz Seider is a very good two-way defenceman. He has developed into a very good player defensively over the course of this season while playing in the DEL, the top tier men’s league in Germany. He uses his size well and competes hard against men in the dirty areas of the ice. He is a very good skater who has good-to-great top end speed and good acceleration. He could improve that area with added strength as he physically matures. His edge work is exceptional for a player his size, able to change direction backwards and forwards as well as laterally. His transition from defending to attacking, or visa versa, is aided by his ability to recognize where the play is developing.

His physicality isn’t a strength but the fact that he positions himself well and keeps close gaps against the oncoming rush. He does an excellent job with his stick positioning, consistently disrupting the play. This forces opposition to the outside with consistency, limiting the dangerous chances. When engaged physically against larger, stronger men he can be pushed around a bit but the projection of his 6’4” frame would lead you to think that his physical development will lead to improvement in those areas.

Offensively, Seider is an excellent passer. He does an excellent job of facilitating the puck down low, putting the puck on the stick of his teammates in high-danger scoring areas. His crisp passing is an asset in both breaking out of his zone and entering the offensive zone as he consistently makes the mature and smart play. His NHL-ready wrist shot is used both to score and to create chances down low. He locates his shot well leading to hard, accurate shots around a screen in front of the net or he shoots the puck in an area that gives the goalie to leave a rebound available to be cleaned up by the net crashing forwards. His slap shot is hard but sometimes lacks consistent accuracy. Overall, he’s developed into a capable two-way defender that could be among the most mature in the draft class.”

Thanks to Tony for that excellent scouting report. Moritz Seider is clearly the best German player to enter the NHL draft since Leon Draisaitl.

Draft Eligible Germans

There are a lot more draft eligible players from Germany this year but I’ll only be covering the top five outside of Moritz Seider.

  1. Taro Jentzsch (LW/C) Sherbrooke Phoenix, QMJHL. A power winger who has offensive upside and great vision. Questionable speed and 19 years old. 18G – 24A – 42P (53 GP)
  2. Nino Kinder (W/C) Eisbären Berlin, DEL. A playmaking forward who has a decent shot. Split time between the DEL and the U20 team. 17G – 24A – 41P (33 GP U20)
  3. Simon Gynp (LHD) Kölner Haie, DEL. Puck-Moving defenseman who has decent speed and a decent shot. Inconsistency in his game and needs to bulk up. Split time between the DEL and U20 team. 9G – 26A – 35P (29 GP U20)
  4. Tobias Ancicka (G) Eisbären Berlin, DEL. A smaller goalie (6’1″, 172 pounds), but can make a save when he needs to. Played for U20 but also DEL 2. 3.36 GAA and a .902 SV% (33 GP U20/DEL 2)
  5. Jan-Luca Schumacher (W/C) Jungadler Mannheim, DNL U20. A skilled playmaker with a smaller frame (5’10, 163 pounds), and needs to work on multiple parts of his game. 16G – 45A – 61P (34 GP U20).

Who Are The Top Draft Prospects For Next Year?

Next year you have guys like Tim Stützle (23G-32A-55P in 21 U20 games), who might be the best center since Leon Draisaitl to come out of the draft from Germany. You also have other talented players in John-Jason Peterka (45G-49A-94P in 48 Czech U20 games) and Lukas Reichel (11G-31A-42P in 32 U20 games).

Germany has a great future with young established NHL players (Leon Draisaitl) and young players making their way through the ranks of German hockey (Moritz Seider and Tim Stützle).

stats-from: Elite-Prospects

special thanks to: Tony Ferrari

photo credit – pixabay.com

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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

IIHF World Hockey Championship: Recapping Day 12

The group stages are over and while the IIHF World Championship in Slovakia is over for some teams, it has just begun for others.

Four games of high drama and quarterfinal implications on the line, and a fantastic tribute for 2 legends of Slovakian hockey was the headlines of the last day of the Worlds preliminaries.

In group A, Germany created a massive upset as the bested the Finns, while host Slovakia finished off with a shootout win over Denmark. In the main event the North American classic between Canada and USA, went to the Canucks as they blitzed to a fast lead and never looked back

Group B saw Czech Republic and Switzerland fight for the seeding in an epic clash where Czech Republic just managed to find a win in regulation. Latvia beat Norway after a strong finish and Russia bulldozed Sweden like never seen before in the second period to win in a goal bonanza. 

Finland 2-4 Germany

Finland: They fell victim to their own game by a team that was more effective and smarter today. The weakness of this Finish team is that they can struggle if they have to create a game against an opponent who stands back. They went into a hot goalie and on top of that it was Kevin Lankinen’s worst game at the worlds. A win here would have granted them a hard game against Switzerland, and while it wouldn’t be a guarantee for Finland, I’m sure it was preferred over arch-rivals Sweden. If Finland are to continue the miracle run, Kaapo Kakko has to return and everything has to be on point like it was against Canada. The one positive about having to face Sweden, is that they have been best when they haven’t been the team with the pressure to create the game. Sweden will take control while they wait to counter attack with force.

Germany: One of the most common stereotypes in the world is that Germans are some of the most efficient people in the world. This, consequently, makes them some of the most boring people, as well. And if I’m honest that’s this German team in a nutshell. Its not fast and flashy like the Russians and in most game, they been second best. But they got 5 wins. With good goaltending from Mathias Niederberger and now Philipp Grubauer and a potent offense that takes almost every chance they get. They can’t be underestimated in the quarters. Something I’m sure Czech Republic will know that after today’s game. A dream for Germany before the day, where it was more likely to be Sweden or Russia.

Slovakia 2-1 Denmark

Slovakia: Not the most amazing game and the intensity from the fans and players was lacking. That is understandable considering that this game meant nothing for Slovakia or Denmark. In the end, it came down as Ladislav Nagy’s final game. And what a way to end his career on the national level. To be able to score the game winner in the shootout in his final game is a perfect end to his stunning national career. Another highlight from the game was the fantastic tribute to Pavol Dimirta in the 38th (his number) minute of the game. For that I have nothing but respect towards the fans.

To put some words on Slovakia’s Worlds, it’s been highs and lows, and the story of what could have been. Had they just held on against Canada for even a point and not collapsed against Germany, the Worlds could have been very different.

Denmark: A good ending to the game from the Danes helped them grab 11th in the worlds, with a nice point today. Mikkel Boedker grabbed the goal on the powerplay after some nice puck movements and after that they held on well. Especially Sebastian Dahm had a wonderful night and made a few great stops to grant Denmark the point they needed to overtake Norway.

The Danish tournament can be described in one play form tonight’s game. A safe and controlled play on the defensive end results in a floater thrown on the net. Due to unfortunate bounces, in this case like Jesper Jensen’s leg, it goes into the net. A few bounces in key moments goes the other way and Denmark could have been with a chance of a quarterfinal. This year was okay but could have been more with better goaltending and a few bounces.

Canada 3-0 USA

Canada: Ten minutes was all Canada needed to get past USA tonight. In what was expected to be a tight game, two goals on mistakes were enough thanks to solid goaltending from Matt Murray and a great defense. Canada might be the team that have developed the most this Worlds. They will always be a favorite, but shaky play to start the tournament and losing John Tavares, it wasn’t looking good at all. I remember writing about a lack of Canadian respect towards the tournament when they played Slovakia. In the first half of that game. Since that they have been otherworldly and exactly what I expect from Canada, strong, physical and creative. This granted them win and they ended up topping the group despite the rocky start. Giving them a rematch against Switzerland, from last year. Its time for revenge and if the powerplay keeps working, and Mark Stone keeps playing like this they will.

USA: Finished fourth place and can now look forward to a battle with Russia. This is the reality after they were blindsided by their northern neighbors and got of to a horrid start. Combined with Germany’s upset, and the worst-case scenario happened. They tried to get back into it, but they just could find the back of the net. Players like Patrick Kane was missing for them. Leaders who last year stepped up and fired them to a bronze medal. Those has been lacking for a few games now. If they are to have a slight chance of upsetting Russia, those players have to step up. Same goes for goaltending where Cory Schneider has been inconsistent to put it nicely. Is 60 years without a gold medal really going to be a reality? If today’s game is anything to judge by, then yes.

Czech Republic 5-4 Switzerland

Czech Republic: Still too many penalties taken, but they have gotten solid goaltending, a good penalty kill and offensively they have a superb player, in Jakub Voracek. The first line from the Czechs are fantastic getting a combined 8 points tonight. And off that they got what they needed in a tight game against Switzerland. Slightly helped by the fact Switzerland pulled the goalie in the end for an empty netter at 4-4. This was enough for them to hang on to second spot which turned out to be wonderful as they are now playing Germany in the quarters. In Bratislava no less. With Slovakia gone, they are the new home team and will have home ice advantage for the rest of the tournament.

Switzerland: They gave it there all after a horrendous second period and down two goals with a regulation win, things looked bleak. But with Roman Josi as anchor and a solid offense that was boosted with the arrival of Nino Niederreiter, there is always a chance. And they fought back and with 3 minutes left tied the game from Niederreiter. An empty netter from the Czechs sadly sealed the deal for the brave Swiss. They need the same type of bravery as they had in the third against Canada if they are to have any chances of repeating last years run to the finals.

Latvia 4-1 Norway

Latvia: A horrific first period was replaced by two solid periods and that was enough for Latvia to get the win. While the game wasn’t meaningful in terms of the tournament itself, it did have a little bit of influence on the Olympic qualifiers. Latvia jumps Norway with this result, finishing 9th in the worlds. That should be enough to avoid facing Denmark, and rather France in those. In this game they deserved it and could have scored a few more, but a 3-0 third period was more than enough to breeze past Norway.

They will look on this tournament as a bit of a mixed bag. They won the games they were expected to win, but despite their best efforts couldn’t create an upset that could have seen them go through.

Norway: They took the lead and with a red-hot Henrik Haukeland in the net, things looked solid. The powerplay was working, as well, and Latvia looked tired from yesterday’s game. And then they were peppered with shots in the second period and despite allowing one they only needed one tiny bounce. Sadly, that didn’t happen, and Latvia instead scored two goals fast from defensive blunders in the third.

In the end Norway can look back at this as mission accomplished, but with anything but flying colors. They survived and that was the main aim. And in that area, they beat both Austria and Italy so that was a success. However, the bonus goals weren’t achieved, and the 9-1 loss to Sweden is a bad stain on the Worlds for the Norwegians.

Sweden 4-7 Russia

Sweden: An absolute disaster of a second period was key for Sweden, where they fell victim to their own mistakes and Russia’s speed. Jacob Markstrom hasn’t been great and he has had no help from anyone on the ice wearing yellow. They lost 6-0 in that period. A period which started out with Sweden leading by one and chasing the top spot. After the second, it was all about saving some pride in the third. And in Sweden’s defense they did. They came at Russia and they played a much nicer period, even winning it 3-1. A nice recovery from them, but this was a massive wake-up call, of the rudest kind. With the loss, they travel to Kosice to face arch-rivals Finland, and they can’t have a period like that again. Finland, like Russia, won’t allow many chances if the group stage is anything to judge by.

Russia: The red machine is running at top gear. The way they play and dominate even the greatest team and reigning champions is something I haven’t seen before. Hell, I don’t think Russia has played that well since they were known as the Soviet Red Army. That’s how dominant they were in the second period. Pure speed and destruction from all lines and they are better in all area of the ice. They slowed down in the third but no matter what this win was a huge statement that Russia is gunning for the gold. They have best goalie in the world right now, a stunning D-core and offensive firepower rivaling a tank. The only bad thing? They are playing USA in the quarters, and while USA haven’t looked fantastic. It wouldn’t be the first time they knocked out a star-studded team Russia.

Puck77

IIHF World Hockey Championship: Recapping Day 6

Russian rampage, British bravery and more late game drama that leaves Kosice stunned. All that was present at Wednesday’s games.

Day 6 is in the books and it’s been another wild day in Slovakia filled with hockey.

In group A, Great Britain faced off against the USA only 24 hours after they got stumped 9-0 by Denmark. A repeat of that was on most people’s mind but the Brits showed a lot of morale and character as they scored a goal in each period. However, they ended up losing but with a very respectable scoreline.

In the second game implications were high as Slovakia needed a win against Germany to keep the realistic hopes of the quarterfinals alive. Sadly, they once again were on the losing end of a huge and late comeback, granting Germany the perfect scenario after four games.

In group B things were a little more straight up. Switzerland calmly found a win against Norway on the back of a strong defense, while Russia defeated Italy 10-0 in a pure onslaught.

Great Britain 3-6 USA

Great Britain: A goal per period for a brave bunch of Brits. They might have been on the back foot for much of the game and required a few robberies from goaltender Ben Bowns. However, they got that and therefore kept the score very respectable.

Let’s remember that Great Britain is ranked at 22nd in the world. Behind Poland. Yet they took America head on and only lost by three. This should give some confidence ahead of the next few games,  especially the crucial game against France. If they can have a day like this and France has a bad day in the office, who knows what can happen.

Embed from Getty Images

USA: Not an amazing game, but they got the job done. They had the shots to score the expected amount of goals, but they were incredibly unfortunate with a few posts.

This was best illustrated late in the game where the new visor version of Jack Hughes had his first goal and point on his stick. He had gone past Bowns and just needed to put it in the net. But a miraculous save from Bowns with his glove denied the youngster.

It was a hard game to get a good read on team USA, and I think it’s a game where they take the three points and move on against Denmark on Saturday. A game where a win very well could solidify their quarterfinal spot.

Germany 3-2 Slovakia

Germany: To the fans of Germany. You can start to book your tickets for the quarterfinals. That is the fact after a crazy ending to a game that is very typical of Germany’s World Championships.

They might not be the best team, but they find a way to win. In this game they were second-best all night. Deservingly down 2-1 going in to the last two minutes of the game and in desperation mode. Then they get the tying goal. With overtime looming, Leon Draisaitl snapped a shot into the top corner of the Slovakian net with 27 seconds remaining. Twelve points in four games for the Germans and now they can challenge the three top teams freely.

Slovakia: Déjà vu of a terrible nightmare for the Slovaks.

Two days ago against Canada, they lost a point with 1.8 seconds to go. Today they had a lead going in the final two minutes but once again come away with nothing. They started off on fire, beating USA and everything looked as to they had the quarter-finals in their sights. Since then they lost three close games. And while they have the easier part of their schedule left, they must hope from help somewhere in this group. Whether it comes from Denmark or Germany, they have to hope one of them can give them a hand.

Nagy’s hit: The game itself had it all, but sadly in the aftermath of writing this I’m sitting with one moment in mind. That moment was when 18-year-old super prospect Moritz Seider leaves the game after taking a scary hit from 39-year-old Ladislav Nagy.

https://twitter.com/A_Kalnins/status/1128758301326565376

To me this is a dangerous and dirty hit and I lost a lot of respect for Nagy. The force of the hit might not be the most powerful I’ve seen, but the fact that Nagy hits a young player who doesn’t have the puck or an idea the hit is coming is cowardly and a bad look on the game. Both in terms of this tournament since one of the more exiting players leaves the worlds, but also in terms of future World Championships.

Seeing this hit I can understand if younger players or NHLers refuse to go since the chance of a cheap shot is looming. I hope Sieder is okay and going to be back up to speed swiftly. For Nagy, I hope this is the last we have seen of him in this year’s Worlds.

Norway 1-4 Switzerland

Norway: A much better game from Norway who finally seem to have fixed one of their major weaknesses in the penalty kill. They weren’t exactly disciplined, but they managed to kill the penalties off tonight.

In the end it wasn’t enough as Switzerland methodically wore down Norway and against them it feels like one or two goals might be enough. Norway once again only scoring one goal and while they have scored in all their games they’ve only scored six goals so far in just five periods. That’s not good enough and they will need to be better. Especially since its do or die time for the Norwegians who play two relegation battles against Austria and Italy to end the tournament.

Embed from Getty Images

Switzerland: It was not an amazing game, and I might go as far to call it mediocre but it was enough to beat Norway. Especially thanks to another stellar defensive game from the Swiss, who have only allowed two goals in four games. And outside the goal Norway scored today, they kept the shots to the outside or in low percentage areas of the ice.

Offensively the line of Nico Hischier and Kevin Fiala worked wonders, and when they get a few goals from their deep bench they are a hard team to face. This was the easy games for Switzerland, who now have to look at three tough games to end the group stage. 

Russia 10-0 Italy

Russia: Hockey is fun. Especially when Russia is playing like this. With a playing style reminiscent of the old Soviet teams who would win everything throughout the 1970’s and 80’s, it’s a joy to watch them dance around the Italians.

Everyone was involved from Russia and their entry into the zone is something of dreams. When Russia plays like that it’s a bad sign for the other teams and today it could have been 20-0 if Russia was a little more clinical with their finishing. And on the defensive side of the puck they got their third shutout in a row! This team is going to be hard to beat.

Embed from Getty Images

Italy: Another rough game. Allowing a ton of shots, getting scored on in bunches and still creating nothing. What can you say really? It’s business as usual. And unlike last night against Latvia,  goaltender Andreas Bernard can’t make miracles. Just 18 seconds into the second period his night was done after allowing five goals. I honestly don’t understand why he was starting in this game. Four games without a single goal and a minus 30! That’s embarrassing no matter who they’ve played so far!

Statistics provided by TSN and EliteProspects

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals