TSN’s Scott Cullen writes that Canada is the team to beat in the World Cup of Hockey. Cullen ranks Canada, Sweden, and North America ahead of the American squad, who he pegs as fourth in his tournament power rankings. Cullen expects the Americans to be competitive but can’t see a team squarely more concerned about a “tougher” style of play going very far in a tournament that emphasizes speed and skill. The US, Cullen writes, is all about smash mouth hockey, but their goalie tandem of Cory Schneider, Ben Bishop and Jonathan Quick could give those aforementioned skilled teams some fits. Cullen places Canada at the top simply because of the top end talent they boast on every line. Sweden, he writes, has an “absurd” defensive corps with Erik Karlsson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman, Hampus Lindholm, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Mattias Ekholm all on the roster. He cautions that in order to knock off favorite Canada, they’ll need young forwards Filip Forsberg and Gabriel Landeskog to carry the team in scoring.
Team North America is one that Cullen believes could truly shock everyone. With young, fast, and skilled players like Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, and John Gaudreau, the under 23 team could turn some heads, and possibly pull some upsets that could unseat the favorites. For the rest of his rankings, Cullen places Russia, Finland, Czech Republic, and Europe as the bottom four teams respectively.
In other World Cup of Hockey News:
- The USA’s 4-2 victory over Canada featured a lot of aggressive play and injury scares that remained only as fears and nothing serious. Several high profile players took vicious hits, and some had to leave the ice. Flyers captain Claude Giroux took a hit from Joe Pavelski and didn’t return until later in the third period. Logan Couture also took a hard hit from T.J. Oshie in the second period but returned in the third. Though Shea Weber was slammed into the boards by Ryan Kesler in the second period, he didn’t miss any ice time. Kesler was assessed a boarding major and a game misconduct. Pavelski recorded the game winner while Derek Stepan sealed the game with an empty net goal in a contest that became more physical as it wore on. Earlier in the day, PHR recapped some of the other injury scares during exhibition play on Thursday.