The heavily-favored Canadians continue to roll, even without the sharp joints of Zach Kassian, pounding Norway into submission by a final score of 10-1. The one actual opponent in Group B, Sweden, is up tomorrow, though the sharp joints of Zach Kassian will not be available for that game either. I've already read blurbs calling the Canadians "under-manned" and "short-handed" because of the Kassian loss, but that's like calling the 1995-1996 Detroit Red Wings "short-handed" because Keith Primeau missed two games.
The Finns dispatched the Germans with ease, 5-1, led by Erik Haula and Teemu Pulkkinen. The two future NHL players, with Iiro Pakarinen have been excellent in all three games and are going to be a big headache for the Russians or Czechs in the medal round. Pakarinen has shown some of the same skating deficiencies that Teemu Hartikainen had, but he's a willing shooter with seven shots in the three games and he was given an 'A' for this tournament. He might be worth a seventh round choice as an overager in the 2011 draft
Ahhh, desperation, you smell so unique. After this one, the Swiss have the United States and the Slovaks have the Finns. This is the game that sends the winner on through to the medal round and the loser to the relegation tournament. The scary part for the Slovaks is that even with the win against the Germans, if they get to relegation and lose a game and the Germans win two in regulation time, the Slovaks would face relegation. It would be a huge blow to the Slovak program and given the players missing due to suspension, defensemen Martin Marincin and Peter Hrasko, it's a distinct possibility.
The Swiss should be able to generate chances against a depleted Slovak defense, and as long as the Swiss defense can hold their own against the Richard Panik-led Slovak attack, the Swiss should come out on top in this one.
Sweden is quietly rolling along, though they'll be without Gabriel Landeskog for the rest of the way. Edmonton prospect Anton Lander has been excellent in all facets of the game and Sweden's team defense has been the best in the tournament thus far. A win here sets up a showdown with Canada for the bye into the semifinals of the medal round.
The Czechs best chance at a win comes against Russia tomorrow. Avoiding suspensions and staying healthy for that game will be the key to making the medal round.
Russia will cruise to a win against the Norwegians and if they don't, if they allow even a few goals to the Norge, they could end up a laughingstock.
Germany grabbed a point in the Slovakia game, but without a major upset against the United States, they are headed to the relegation round where they will need two regulation wins to avoid relegation. They came back against the Swiss and played the Slovaks tough, so they have a chance in the relegation round. I'm not sure of the fallout of relegation, but it wouldn't look good if they were replaced by Latvia or Denmark.
The U.S. should probably avoid losing another round of the ever-popular game "Headshots" should the Germans decide to extract a pound of flesh for a loss like the Slovaks did. The Americans have little chance of upsetting the Canadians unless they are completely healthy.