Thursday, 23 April 2009

Hockey Rant in Canada: World Championship 2009 Preview

Hockey Rant in Canada
World Championship 2009 Preview
Who's in? Who's out? What's up?
And, most importantly, who to cheer for!

Usually (when I remember to do it at all), I do my Hockey Rant in Canada on Saturdays. Not this week. Not when tomorrow is DAY ONE of the World Championships in Switzerland. I'll admit, I don't pay as much attention to this tournament as I do to the Junior Worlds or the to Cup playoffs (when a team I like is in the playoffs), but it's international, and my favourite active NHLers happens to hold Canada's scoring record, and it's the last big IIHF tournament before the 2010 Olympics.

In the preliminary round, there are 16 teams in four groups. They'll play a total of 24 round robin games. The two countries from each group with the highest number of points after the preliminary round advance to the playoff round. It's pretty simple. Points work a little differently than the NHL: 3 points for a win in regulation, 2 points for an OT win, 1 point for an OT loss, and 0 for a loss in regulation. If you want a more detailed break-down of how the tournament works, hopefully this explains things. (If you still have questions, leave them in the comments. I'll answer them as best I can.)

Due to sheer laziness, I'm only going to preview the teams that matter: USA, Canada, Sweden, and Russia. I really should do the Czech Republic and Finland too, but I can't be bothered if Petr Sykora isn't playing in the tournament. (And let's be realistic, they're 'the big six' for a reason; if you want to know what I'm referring to, this should answer your questions. See 1960 on.) For anyone else's roster, click here.

CCCP (the part of the cold war that forgot to die in 1991)
RAT-BASTARD YOU STILL HAVEN'T FORGIVEN FOR HIS OT GAME-WINNER IN LAST YEAR'S GOLD-MEDAL GAME: Ilya Kovalchuk. (I haven't forgiven his goal that sent the game into OT either.) GUYS YOU MAY ACTUALLY HAVE HEARD OF: Anton Volchenkov, Alexander Frolov. GUYS WHOSE NAMES YOU MAY HAVE HEARD MISPRONOUNCED ON ESPN: Ilya Bryzgalov, Dmitri Kalinin, Denis Grebeshkov. DON’T EVEN TRY IF YOU’VE HAD A FEW: Vasiliy Koshechkin, Konstantin Korneyev, Oleg Tverdovsky, Alexei Tereshchenko, Sergei Mozayakin, Vitaly Vishnevski.

The rest of the team is comprised of people who you will never have heard of if you don't follow European hockey, which I don't. I'm not going to pretend to know how good any of them are. All I know is that Russia won gold last year, so they can't be that bad.

Tre Kronor (Sweden)
NHLers WHOSE TEAMS MISSED PLAYOFFS: Tobias Enstrom, Nicklas Grossman, Joel Lundqvist (yes, they’re related – they’re identical twins), Loui Eriksson. GUYS WHO ARE GOING TO KICK YOUR ASS: la creme de la creme of the Swedish Elite League. ON CALL: The Detroit Red Wings. (Wait. Just wait.) GUY YOU'RE GLAD HAS HIS PRIORITIES STRAIGHT: Daniel Alfredsson. After playing through the end of the Sens' regular season with a back injury (in addition to that broken jaw), he's missing the WC so he can be back in good shape for the fall with the Senators. Good call, Alfie, good call!

Again, not going to pretend to know a lot about the Swedish Elite League. They're not bad. Sweden has medaled 16 of the last 22 years. They must be doing something right.

PEOPLE YOU WANT TO CHEER FOR EXTRA HARD: Zach Bogosian (18 yr old D-man, way to go kid!), Ryan Shannon (un-drafted underdog of underdogs. Also a Senator), Nick Foligno, Jack Johnson, Colin Wilson. PEOPLE WHOSE PRO TEAMS MISSED PLAYOFFS: Robert Esche, Al Montoya, Keith Ballard, Ron Hainsey, Matt Niskanen, Ryan Suter, Jason Blake, Dustin Brown, Peter Harrold, Kyle Okposo, Patrick O'Sullivan, Drew Stafford, Lee Stempniak, Colin Stuart. REASON YOU HOPE THEY DON'T CUT TO THE PRESS BOX TOO OFTEN: GM Brian Burke (gag).

And, my lovelies...
PEOPLE YOU LOVE PRETTY MUCH UNCONDITIONALLY: Ottawa Senators (Dany Heatley, Chris Phillips, Mike Fisher, Jason Spezza) and WJC 2008 alum (Drew Doughty, Luke Schenn, Steve Stamkos). PEOPLE YOU'D NEVER BE CAUGHT DEAD CHEERING FOR IF THIS WASN'T AN IIHF TOURNAMENT: Shea Weber, Scotty Upshall, Derek Roy, James Neal, Martin St. Louis, Dan Hamuis, Shane Doan, Matthew Lombardi, Ian White, Shawn Horcoff, Dwanye Roloson, Josh Harding (alternate players: Joel Kwiatkowski, Fred Braithwaite)



Don't lie.
We know who you're cheering for.Even if you ARE American, you know you're gonna be rooting for Colbs...

I was truly shocked by how many Americans I know listed "Team Canada" (or its U20 incarnation) as their favourite international team on that silly facebook thinga that made heavy rotations within my circle of acquaintance yesterday.

International hockey tournaments are pretty much the only time I get blatantly, blindly, unapologetically patriotic... and yet you, my friends, are going to be cheering for Canada too? I am pleased that everyone loves our players that much, but what about Team USA? You have a kicking line-up! You may actually have a shot at medaling! (I said a shot...)

Games You Care About

FRIDAY the 24th
Canada - Belarus
10:15 a.m. ET
(this means I will be getting up at 7 a.m. to watch a hockey game. WHAAAAA? woooooo!)

SATURDAY the 25th
USA - Latvia
Also at 10:15 a.m. ET
Does hockey at 7 a.m. justify drinking beer with breakfast?

SUNDAY the 26th
Canada - Hungary
2:15 p.m. ET
I will be working from 12-4. And will miss this entire game.
This is why I LOVE the TSN is broadcasting the game on tape-delay at 11 p.m.
WOOOOOO!!! If anyone tells me who wins, I will kill them.

For a full listing of game times, hit up TSN. For their broadcast schedule... here ya go! I'm not sure what you'll get in the US, but check for Sopcast feeds and the like. They had U18s streaming last week. Someone's bound to stream the WC.

For you viewing pleasure: Nap Time With Eric, Mike and Colby!

If you don't think Mike Commordore is the funniest man alive, there is something seriously wrong with you. Also, wait for it... wait for it... ANNNNDDD rock out to the HNIC theme song with Big Staal and Cabbie! I wish I'd been born a Staal. Being their big sister (because I am older than Eric) might have been the biggest riot imaginable.


ali said...

Oh yeah we have a shot! *dances around in a circle*

Umm... I'm still not sure that I approve of the all Maple Leafs GM-coaching duo, but you know...

Personally -- I'm pretty excited that Colin Wilson is getting a chance at the Sr. level, I can't wait to see how he does...

My only piece of USA Hockey apparel is a sweatshirt -- it could very well be to warm to wear it tomorrow, but well... I might anyway.

Please Team USA, bring home a medal (frankly -- I'd be happy with one of any color)!

Oh -- and about the U18 team that won gold earlier this week... I absolutely cannot wait to see them in the WJC's... :)

mer said...

I think Buffalo is too good to pass up. I may start a WJC 2011 Fund.

Jessclub7 said...

I thought beer was breakfast?

Val said...

@Jessclub7 - in my younger days, so did I.

Loved this post, and have to say that the list of Team USA dmen is quite impressive (we are big Suter fans in these parts)...that said, how can you not root for Team Canada, it's Team Canada - hello!

Susan said...

@jessclub7-No, ice cream is breakfast :)

mer said...

yeah, beer is usually lunch

Safoora said...

I wonder if these games are going to be on Center Ice like the U20 WJCs were...? I'm all for the WJC in Buffalo 2011. --closest to Delaware it will ever be.

This is making me so much more excited/anxious for Vancouver 2010! I'm begging my parents to get me tickets for my birthday or graduation...and a Parise USA jersey!