Denmark took Latvia to OT in the Relegation Final in what has been described as a spirited game, though no one in North America would know because TSN decided this one wasn't worth showing on one of their eight media outlets. Latvia survived and for that they get to go to Ufa next year as part of the elite division in U20 competition thanks to IIHF's one relegation, one promotion change. Latvia will be in tough next year, however, as the Germans won Division I, Group A and will challenge Latvia for the 9th spot in Ufa.
As to the relegation changes, I was initially skeptical. I didn't find the IIHF's arguments for the change particularly compelling, but I was willing to give it a chance. Regardless of the IIHF's reasons, the change is wonderful. While promoting only one team will further separate the divisions, one game for survival creates a situation of extreme desperation for both sides. Hopefully TSN will recognize how much these games mean to the cellar-dwellers and give them some airtime.
As for today's action, not since the Punch-up in Piestany have the Canadians been so disappointed with their finish. The Finns, one of the best teams on paper to start the tournament, get to play for yet another international medal. The Swedes have been quiet and efficient, though they've needed two furious comebacks to make it this far. The enigmatic Russians have alternated between world-beaters and a disinterested team cheating for offense, or so the story goes.
This one is a rematch from the round robin but this time the Finns have Sami Aitokallio in net. While he's been excellent thus far, he shouldn't be enough to stop the fired-up Canadians. However, if the Canadians are disinterested in the bronze medal, the Finns best line could cause real issues for the Canadian defense, especially if Canada spends significant time in the penalty box.
When a medal is up for grabs, the Finns are the toughest team in the world to put away, so I expect them to give Canada a great game and falter in the end.
The systematic Swedes should have the advantage over the Russians, but these Russians are extra enigmatic. The same team that struggled with Latvia, Switzerland and the Czech Republic shredded Canada's defense.
The Russians stormed out to a 3-0 first period lead against the Swedes in the round robin, then sat back and allowed the Swedes to attack over and over again. The Swedes outshot them 39-12 in the last two periods, include 22-4 in the third as they stormed back to tie the game. Sweden won it in overtime 2:44 in on their first shot.
This should be an outstanding game. The Swedes weren't outplayed in the first game by any stretch and the Russians should (I hope) have some lessons to work from about going in to a shell.