Semifinals and Finals at the WCOH work like this:
If you lose, you're out. Winners go on to play a best of three series of games that will bring us right to the beginning of preseason.
Now that that's out of the way, it's time for the info you came here for.
Russia vs. Canada
When: Saturday, 7pm EST
Where: Air Canada Center, Toronto, Ontario
Where to Watch: ESPN2, Sportsnet, TVASports
Bruins Playing: Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand will be playing on a line usually alongside Sidney Crosby as per usual.
Russia got into this semifinal largely by beating Finland and by shocking Team North America to it's bones. The real defining factor of Russia's play so far has been their youth stepping up and creating depth scoring from nearly every line they've played so far in the tournament. The fact that Sergei Bobrovsky has also been pretty darn good even in their losing efforts meant that Russia has had an easy time of it throughout the round robin. One issue they've had is that if they don't get into the scoring rhythm early, or if they encounter the right defense, they'll probably spend their time doing...well...not really all that much. This presents a real scary problem for them as they currently go against the Tournament favorites.
Team Canada, meanwhile, has basically waltzed through the tournament without any real competition worth mentioning. They ran over the czechs, they sent a despondent USA packing, and they made short work of Team Europe. There are no glaring flaws in Team Canada because I'm not sure there is one. If they play this game 20 times Russia might win twice. That said, Canada tends to clam up against Russia in some tournaments, and while their opponents may not be a real favorite, this really can't be a game they take off. This tournament is single elimination at this stage, after all. If they take care of business, there should be no problem.
They just have to take care of business, is all. Then they play whoever wins the next game.
Canada's lines are here. The starter will be Carey Price.
Russia's lines are here. The starter will in all likelyhood be the hot hand in Sergei Bobrovsky
Team Europe vs. Sweden
When: Sunday, 1pm EST
Where: Air Canada Center, Toronto, Ontario
Where to Watch: ESPN2, SN, TVASports
Bruins Playing: Zdeno Chara will be playing in the top or second defense pairing. His partner is usually Roman Josi or Andrej Sekera
It wasn't supposed to be like this.
Team Europe was supposed to suck. Badly. Every inch of that team smelled of the suckage that was to come and then...it never happened. The blowouts, the badness we expected...it just didn't come. Sure, they got outshot to hell in every game, but it's not like they didn't play to their strengths. They got a player loose and that player took care of business. Jaroslav Halak played a man possessed. Leon Draisaitl looked like a complete superstar. The only matchup they didn't look like a superstar squad was against Canada, which...y'know. Can be forgiven. It's Canada. The two-toned team managed to find a rhythm and have been riding it to a near perfect record. This will definitely be their toughest test, but if we know anything about this team, it's that stranger has happened.
Namely, that they beat Sweden once.
Sweden meanwhile, went undefeated in regulation, but didn't have the same kind of luck that the Russians did against the North Americans. Otherwise, they were every bit as good as Canada, if not better. Legitimately the only thing that kept some Swedes from assuming the team was a lock for the Best-of-three final was a sudden case of the flu Henrik Lundqvist came down with. And he didn't even need to be at 65% to be part of a winning effort. But while they've looked good, they occasionally have looked a little careless. And that ended up creating a godawful 6-2 loss to Team Europe in the exhibition games.
That has to be stuck in their craw somewhere. And if they're planning on taking this semifinal seriously, what better way to point at Canada menacingly from the entrance ramp than to get back that embarrassing loss from the Exhibition games.
Team Europe's lines will be here, and Jaroslav Halak will likely start
Team Sweden's lines are here, and Henrik Lundqvist will probably start
The semis are here! NHL hockey is almost here! We will be handing out a plastic trophy to one of these teams!
What's on tap?