Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Morning World Cup Player Notes (Sep 20)

As Day 3 opened, the schedule started to get really short for the teams that suffered a loss in the first couple days and the Czech Republic were already up against the wall, as they faced off against Team Europe.

The Czechs managed to put up a good fight, hung with the Europeans, despite falling behind in both the 2nd and 3rd periods, forcing overtime.  In the end though, it was the Europeans, taking their speed to the 3-on-3 overtime format of the NHL, as Leon Draisaitl took a breakaway pass from Mats Zuccarello and popped it passed Petr Mrazek for the win.

Draisaitl and Zuccarello each finished the game with a pair of points, which made a 4-point game for Clayton in the standings, while we all know that no one took a flyer on Jaroslav Halak, who made 28 saves for his second win of the tournament.

The Czechs will need a USA win over Canada, in regulation, in today's action to have any chance at moving on to the semi-finals, while the Europeans have pretty well made their way to the next round, even with a game against Canada still to play.

The Europeans didn't have any lineup changes ahead of this game, but the Czechs didn't have forward Radek Faksa in their lineup, as he was sidelined with an upper-body injury, while Michal Birner drew back in for him.  Obviously, that didn't help much and it really had no bearing on the pool at all.

After the disappointing test that the Finns gave Team North America, we were all hoping that the Russians would be a far better test for those kids, especially since they were already a loss behind in the standings and it really wasn't... until midway through the 2nd period.

Already down 1-0, the Russians did seem a little listless until a bounce finally went their way and the reinserted Vladislav Namestnikov was able to shovel a puck past Matt Murray and they were finally on the board.  Just about two minutes later, another fortunate bounce off a stanchion landed in the path of Nikita Kucherov and he was able to smack it past the North American keeper for a 2-1 lead.  That was the start of a 4-goal unanswered streak, capped off by a Vladimir Tarasenko spin-around shot at the top of the circle, far post on Murray, and that was all the Russians needed.

Sure, the kids tried to make it close, pulling one back before the end of the 2nd and then adding a quick one in the 3rd period, but Sergei Bobrovsky really shut it down in the end, finishing the game with a whopping 43 saves and the 2 points for the win.

Dale was collecting his second win of the tournament from the Russian keeper, while Neil took the other 2 points from Tarasenko scoring the eventual winner and that was all the notable scoring on the Russian side.  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and an assist for North America, which was another win for Neil, getting his own 4-point night from the notable players.

Before the game, the North Americans announced that defenseman Aaron Ekblad was not able to go in this one, due to an upper-body injury, and that he was day-to-day moving forward.  This was some bad news for Neil, who lost a game from a key defender.  Jacob Trouba, a non-pool player, drew into the lineup in his spot.  As it was mentioned earlier, Namestnikov drew back in for Russia, taking the spot of Vadim Shipachev, who didn't have a great start to the tournament.  Benson had his guy go in, Dale lost a player in this one.

ImplicationsDale's team finished the night with 15 points in total, a gain of 4 points on the day and his lead was still 3 points at the end of the night.  Neil's big day saw him move into 2nd place, thanks to a 5-point effort on the day.  Scott, only 4 points back, managed to keep pace from the late game and Clayton, 5 points back, did well enough, thanks to the early game.

Now that everyone has their feet wet in this tournament, the feel for the puck is seemingly back and now it's finding its way to the back of the net.  Good news for the pool, indeed!

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