As we've moved out of preliminaries, the time has come to give out some medals, and to get a neat trophy in the office. Lets review
Relegation Round - Germany vs. Kazakhstan, 4am EST
This first game will have already ended by the time you're awake, and its between two teams that have largely been squashed like bugs by everybody else. Its not their fault, really. They just dont have the talent gap closed for them yet.
Either way, if i had to guess who'd take this series? Its probably gonna be Germany. Kazakhstan has a couple talented players on offense, but the Germans are deeper. Neither can play defense well, so its likely going to be a ride and a half.
Quarterfinal Game 1: Switzerland vs. Russia - 6:30am EST
Another early riser, which is a pity because I think this is a good matchup. A swiss team that surged late and showed they could still hang with the best vs. A deeply talented but highly erratic and undisciplined Russia. Where this hinges is whether Russia can stay out of the box, and whether swiss goalie Luca Hollenstein is still feeling the good vibes that made the last two games of the prelims so easy for him. If you're up this early, give it a looksee.
Quarterfinal Game 2: Canada vs. Slovakia - 9am EST
I dont mean to be rude but Slovakia will have to do everything right for every shift of this game if they even want to have a prayer of making it.
Canada meanwhile has to show up. The disparity between these teams is clear. I wish I had more to say here but the Slovaks were repeatedly let down by goaltending and defense while Canada is just letting anyone who wants to go on a tear do it. Itll be over quick.
Quarterfinal Game 3: USA vs. Finland - 11:30am
The US and Finland have had somewhat similar career paths to this point: they've got flash, skill, speed, and are dogged in pursuit of the puck. They ALSO have the fun tendency to look lacksadaisical for a period or two and try and dig their way outta danger in the third. Usually it works...but this tourney has produced some upsets thanks to this.
Its up to both squads to decide if they're gonna play a full 60.
Its apso the lone game with Bruins prospects in it, who badly need to start making an impression: Curtis Hall and John Beecher's ice time has been sliding backwards since the tourney began and that's not good for either of them.
Quarterfinal Game 4: Sweden vs. Czech Republic - 2pm EST
If you think Slovakia had it bad? You dont want what the Czechs have: they're hurt, they're the home team, and thanks to those injuries they are VERY not as talented as Sweden on many fronts. They need to come out with the speed and ferocity of a Mad Max action scene to even have a prayer here.
Do it for Jakub, Czechs. Do it for Jakub.