If you were one of the many hockey fans frustrated by the NHL’s decision to not attend the most recent Winter Olympics, or one of the many others who have already seen their team eliminated from Stanley Cup contention, this weekend is for you. On Friday, some of the best hockey players in the world will kick off the IIHF World Championship as Team USA and Team Canada do battle.
For more than two weeks, players will represent their countries in the top international tournament of the year. The bronze and gold medal games will be played on Sunday, May 20th—who will be there?
The Canadians look like favorites to contend once again, with Connor McDavid leading an impressive forward group that also includes names like Mathew Barzal, Ryan O’Reilly, Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn. Tyson Jost was added to the team today, while a blue line manned by Aaron Ekblad and Colton Parayko should be smothering.
Team USA doesn’t lag far behind, with Patrick Kane headlining an incredibly skilled group of forwards. Cam Atkinson, Alex DeBrincat, Johnny Gaudreau, Dylan Larkin and others are going to bring speed and offense to the tournament.
Russia is always a wildcard in international tournaments, and is coming off an Olympic victory in Pyeongchang. The team will also have a new face behind the bench, as Oleg Znarok stepped down earlier this month. Ilya Kovalchuk won’t be there, but don’t expect a reduced level of play from the Russians.
As usual, Sweden—the defending champions—will have arguably the best defensive corps in the tournament, with names like John Klingberg, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Hampus Lindholm and Adam Larsson manning their blue line. The team will also feature young talents like Lias Andersson and Elias Pettersson up front, making their games must-see TV for prospect nerds.
The Czech Republic, Finland and Slovakia will all be tough outs like always, and don’t overlook a Leon Draisaitl-led German squad. The Germans have made the quarter-finals in the last two World Championship tournaments, and shocked the hockey world with an Olympic silver medal in South Korea.
In all, the tournament should be excellent and provide a hockey release for those already frustrated with their team’s performance in the Stanley Cup playoffs. With that, we ask you who you think will win the gold medal. Make sure to explain your reasons down below.
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