World Cup of Hockey Preview

By Mike Czajka

MLB season got you down?  If you are chomping at the bit for professional hockey action and can’t wait for the NHL season to begin tune into the World Cup of Hockey which kicks off with the USA vs the Czech Republic on Saturday, Sept 17th.

The tournament features eight teams made up of predominately active NHL players playing for their respective home countries.

In a 21st Century twist to current world cup tournament formats used in baseball, basketball and soccer, hockey has added continental teams – Team North America and Team Europe. Team North America showcases young players, age 23 yrs. and under, representing the rising stars of North American talent in the NHL. And Team Europe is comprised of players whose birth countries are outside the four other National teams represented (Sweden, Finland, Russia, Czech Republic). The European team stand outs include Zdeno Chara, Marian Hossa and Mats Zuccarello. All tournament games will take place in Toronto Canada where they haven’t seen a championship team since the Johnson administration. Who? Exactly!

Tournament Rules:

Teams are divided into two groups of four teams, Group A and Group B.

Teams will play each team in its own group in a round-robin format in Preliminary round competition.

The top two teams from each group will advance to the semi-finals.

The top team from group A will play the second place team from Group B, and like versa, top team in Group B will play the second place team Group A.

The winners of the semi-finals will advance to a Best of Three finals where we anticipate Team Canada to be hoisting the trophy on their home ice.

Group A

Team USA

Team Canada

Team Czech Republic

Team Europe

Group B

Russia

Sweden

Finland

Team North America

Kandy’s top players to watch and predicted order of finish.

Team Canada (Far and away the favorite)

Goaltending – Carey Price, Braden Holtby

Defense – Shea Weber, Drew Doughty

Forwards – Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Steven Stamkos

Team Sweden

Goaltending – Henrik Lundqvist

Defense – Victor Hedman, Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Forwards – Henrik & Daniel Sedin, Nicklas Backstrom

Team USA

Goaltending – Jonathan Quick, Ben Bishop

Defense – Ryan Suter, Dustin Byfuglien, Jack Johnson

Forwards – Patrick Kane, Joe Pavelski, Ryan Kesler, David Backes

Team Russia

Goaltending –  Andrei Vasilevskiy, Semyon Varlamov

Defense – Alexei Emelin, Andrei Markov

Forwards – Alexander Ovechkin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk

Team North America

Goaltending – Matt Murray

Defense – Connor McDavid. Seth Jones

Forwards – Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel

Team Finland

Goaltending – Tuukka Rask, Pekka Rinne

Defense – Olli Maata, Sami Vatanen

Forwards – Valtteri Filppula, Jussi Jokinen, Mikko Koivu

Team Europe

Goaltending – Jaroslav Halak, Frederik Andersen

Defense – Zdeno Chara, Mark Streit

Forwards – Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik, Mats Zuccarello

Team Czech Republic

Goaltending – Petr Mrazek, Michal Neuvirth

Defense – Andrej Sustr, Roman Polak

Forwards – Ondrej Palat, David Krejci, Jakub Voracek, Marian Hossa