We’ve got some time to kill while we wait the Pens-Islanders series, and while yes I’d like to do some real work on realizing this, I would also like to take a moment to recognize that the 2021 IIHF World Championships are ongoing, and some interesting stuff is happening out there in Riga.
So let’s do a very, very, very bird’s eye view of the World Championships, and then we can return to Bruins Round 2 coverage!
...You know, once the Pens and Islanders stop racing to the bottom.
Slovakia: Miro Satan’s Slovakian squad has been quite the surprise so far, as they’ve dominated more or less every team they’ve come across by not taking almost penalties whatsoever, having a killer power play, and their goaltending has been a brick wall. This group even includes a P-Bruin in Robert Lantosi! Who’s been playing very well and has 3 points in 3 games. Peter Cehlarik is also doing pretty well, who has six, and leads the tournament in points. It’s a wild tournament so far!
Switzerland: Also having a nice tourney so far, though they’ve only played a lot of the also-rans in group to begin their tourney, and have played two very close games, and have scored the least amount of goals of any of the undefeated squads. They are a fairly even squad, however, and are harder to score on than seemingly every other team. Time will tell if they stay in 2nd-in-group for long. Also another world tourney, another Reto Berra appearance. Good to see he’s still getting work!
Russia: Russia’s goalscoring is the best among Group A, but they’ve been kinda spotty defensively. Getting an influx of guys from the NHL, especially Evgeny Kuznetsov, might be a huge shot in the arm for them as they wait for reinforcements from the Playoffs.
Belarus: The story of Belarus is the story of a number of guys who just kinda...accepted a bid to be part of the Belarusian squad! Who’da thunk it? The most interesting of which is Danny Taylor, a guy from York in England who’s sort of become Minsk’s official goaltender for the past couple of seasons, even if his SV% in the K was nothing to write home about.
The other story of Belarus of course, is it’s major human rights issues that have been popping up over the past couple of years, and it’s that sort of thing that got this tournament moved from Minsk to Riga in the first place. It’s safe to say not a whole lot of fans of Belarus are in attendance this night.
Denmark: Poor Denmark. A team perfectly balanced in goals and their offense is uh...yeah. Next to non-existent. Their penalty kill is pretty good, however!
oh god poor Sebastian Dahm he doesn’t know what’s about to happen to him.
Czech Republic: The Czechs should absolutely be better than this. They got Jan Kovar, Filip Zadina, Filip Chytil, Jakub Vrana,..the Czechs gotta get their act together, especially in goal.
Sweden: I think they’re missing a lot of their big NHL guys, most of whom will be playing for quite a while. It’s just unusual that a lot of them have...yet to actually go yet? Oh well, I guess that’s how they want to be.
But man their offense is bad right now. They could use an Oskar Steen, imo.
Great Britain: Congrats on making it to the IIHF World Championships, Ingerland! Now enjoy the backhand slapping the taste straight out of your mouth!
Germany: Germany! Look at you, Eismannschaft! Highest scoring team in the tourney, beat Canada 3-1, used Norway and Italy as a training dummy...I can only say that, for what feels like the first time ever, that Germany is the team to beat right now.
And hey! Just think of how good they’ll be once Leon Draisaitl makes his way there!
Latvia: LAT! VIJ! A! Latvia’s the home squad this year and boy have they shown out. The Latvians are a tough nut to crack; just ask Canada, and they’ve been playing like their hair’s on fire for the past three games, only falling once in overtime. They’ve also made the game of “spot the non-plural name on Latvia’s roster” much easier, as they brought two. See if you can identify them!
Kazakhstan: The Kardiac Kazakhs, who’ve won both of the games they’ve played so far, but have also done so in overtime by one goal each time. Who knows if they can keep this up, but knowing what we know about this group right now?...they could actually be in the driver’s seat.
Finland: You lost in overtime to Kazakhstan, Finland? Where’s all that firepower you’ve been developing? Oh well. At least you’re not any of the north american teams right now.
USA: Hey, the Stars and Stripes! With plenty of familiar faces! Jake Oettinger, Ryan Donato, Tage Thompson....Justin Abdelkader...
...You know what, I might actually be a little concerned for this group. Sure they’re probably better than most of these squads, but this group is uneven and full of NHL depth guys who are probably better volume shooters than finishers.
Norway: Hockey just doesn’t quite have the same deathgrip in Norway that it does in the rest of Scandinavia, but they still manage to be surprising every once in awhile, like their 4-1 convincing win over Italy. It’s not looking like a great tournament ahead, however, so I hope they work hard and do their best.
And hey....at least they’re not....
Canada: Canada, what the f___k are you doing here.
There are NHL players here, there are potential first round picks here, there are AHLers, your head coach is Gerard Gallant...What is happening here, guys!? And it’s not just “oh man they’re unlucky”, they look awful! I sincerely do not know what’s caused this! None of these guys can be that bad, right?
You’d better beat Kazakhstan or you’re gonna be fighting Italy for elimination!
Italy: Mama mia, Italia. You’re having a rough one.
Which isn’t surprising, per se, but it’s kind of impressive that while they should be considered the favorite for elimination, they’re somehow racing to the bottom with CANADA. If they somehow beat Finland and Kazakhstan does the unthinkable?
And that’s that! You can go back to ignoring the World Championships until the Bruins advance again!