Thursday, September 22, 2016

Morning World Cup Player Notes (Sep 22)

Going into Wednesday afternoon's game, all Sweden needed was a point to go through to the semi-finals, while North America really needed a win in regulation to have a better shot to make it through the tie-breakers and if they won by a good number of goals, the goal difference would be in their favour.

The kids got off to that blazing start, as it was 2-0 before the 2-minute mark, but that fast start meant that the game was going to be a bit more wide open.  Sweden grabbed one back before the halfway mark, Johnny Gaudreau reopened the 2-goal lead shortly after and Nicklas Backstrom reeled them in a little bit before the frame ended, 3-2.

Things grew tighter in the 2nd period, as Sweden tried to poke through, but couldn't and the score remained into the 3rd period.  The Swedes were not going to let the kids get away with this, as they knew that the point was valuable and a win would be much better, so they continued to push.  Early in the final frame, Patrik Berglund, in his first game of the tourney, deflected a shot from Erik Karlsson and it slipped past John Gibson, tie game.

The Swedes held off the North American advances and tried a couple of their own, but the push was for overtime and they got it.  The Swedes were through, but Nathan MacKinnon made sure that his side was in the hunt, scoring a nifty game-winner on Henrik Lundqvist and a 4-3 final for the under-24 team makes Thursday's action all that much more exciting.

Shayne Gostisbehere was the most notable player in the pool in this one, picking up 3 assists, while Gaudreau, MacKinnon and Gibson were all 2-point players.  Karlsson, Backstrom and Filip Forsberg were all 2-point players for Sweden in this one, which ended up being one of the better scoring games of the tourney for our small little pool.

As it was pointed out yesterday, Matt Murray was dealing with an injury and couldn't dress yesterday, Aaron Ekblad is done for the tournament and it was Dylan Larkin, who was the third scratch for North America, as J.T. Miller drew in for the first time.  On the Swedish side, Mikael Backlund is reportedly dealing with concussion-like symptoms, which could end his tournament prematurely, while Hampus Lindholm and Jhonas Enroth continued to sit.

It was a battle for top spot in Group A and the loser of the game will play Sweden on Sunday afternoon, so it was going to be a very important game.

Europe was taking this game quite seriously, knowing that they would want to keep the momentum going in their favour, so they basically kept the same lineup, except for dressing Luca Sbisa for the first time in place of Dennis Seidenberg.  It's hard to say that Canada was necessarily taking the night off, as they gave Carey Price, Ryan Getzlaf and Shea Weber the night off, playing Corey Crawford, Claude Giroux and Jake Muzzin in their places, but that was the overall feeling.

It wasn't the prettiest of games, by many accounts, but Canada was able to dominate the game in all the important facets, including the scoreboard, winning the game, 4-1, and winning the group, rather handily.  Canada will get either North America or Russia in the semi-finals, which will be decided later on today and will be previewed in the goalie announcements, while Europe will get Sweden in the other semi-final.

It was a good game for Jonathan Toews, who scored a pair of goals, including the winner, and added an assist for a 4-point night, while Logan Couture went one and one and then Crawford needed to make 19 saves for the win.  These were your notable players in the game.

ImplicationsWell, Scott isn't letting Dale getting away with this pool, as the North American win was helpful in closing the gap back down to 3 points, as Dale leads him, 25-22.  Scott, much like the rest of the North American squad, is praying for a Finland win against Russia on Thursday, but that is much easier said than done.

Clayton remains 8 points back of Dale, while Marcie and Neil are 9 points back.

Thursday's action will be very interesting to watch, so stay tuned!

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