Oh hello! It’s been a few days since a Worlds Update–definitely not due to a lack of things happening over in Europe, though!
‘murricawatch: Because we tote blue passports
Well, Team USA lost its perfect record in a 4-2 loss to Slovakia. The Slovaks drew first blood, created a 2-0 lead and then extended it to 3-1 by the time the first period ended. Justin Faulk and Paul Stastny provided the only American offense, Stastny while on a 5-on-3. This game was a fun one to watch because it was on in the afternoon, so many folks watched it live and it was almost like watching a Bruins game again. It was especially good to see Zdeno Chara and hear commentators talk about his slap shots and everything. (It was not good to hear the commentators occasionally oscillate between pronunciations of his surname. It’s not hard!) But this game was complex–as an American, I wanted Team USA to win because patriotism; as a Bruins fan, I wanted Slovakia to pull it out so Chara could be captaining a team improving its losing record.
America then pulled out two wins against countries that, as the clever snarky Power Rankings put it, many Americans cannot point to on a map. But both wins were flawed–the 5-3 victory against Belarus came with USA blowing a two-goal lead (ha, that sounds familiar) and the 3-2 overtime win versus Kazakhstan had all the makings of an unbelievable upset by a team not expected to make it out of the round robin.
In the game vs. Belarus, the first two USA goals were both a little flukey, and though they were five minutes apart and not ba-boom ba-boom, they were still enough to necessitate a Belorussian goaltender change. (Actually, Belarus made a big goaltender change; the goalie who was replaced has actually left the team. No, I’m not kidding.) Justin Abdelkader scored the first goal and assisted on the second, his first production marks of the tournament so far. But then Belarus got on the board and Jack Johnson was assessed 2+10 for a check to the head that even the TSN guys argued probably wouldn’t be penalized so harshly in the NHL. International play, baby. However, it wasn’t a check that ended his night early–he was able to leave the sin bin after sitting for all the minutes he got. Belarus tied it in the beginning of the second and that score held for much of the middle stanza until Nate Thompson untied it. In the third, Bobby Ryan and Stastny added goals before Belarus put one more up while on a 5-on-3. Speaking of advantages, Belarus’ second goal came on the power play, breaking Team USA’s perfect penalty killing record.
Kazakhstan was expected to be an easy win. Jimmy Howard was given the day off and Richard Bachman, who is keeping a fun blog, went between the pipes. Everyone thought they’d just light up Kazakhstan like a Christmas tree–but then the team with no wins held USA scoreless for an entire period and flipped the script. JT Brown did strike first, but Kazakhstan tied it up while on the power play a few minutes later. Faulk, though, is starting to become very clutch himself. He put Team USA ahead in the third (although Kazakhstan tied it up yet again) and then, with the five-minute overtime period almost over–I mean less than half a minute to go–he scored and ensured more points for America.
Another benefit of watching this game, though the first period was frustrating as all get out, was hearing the commentators try to wrap their tongues around names like Krasnoslobodtsev.
Meanwhile, Chara still proves too difficult for some.
Standing as of May 11: Third in Group H, 10 points
Other games with folks in them that we like
Canada decided to copy their southern neighbors and beat France 7-2. Patrick Sharp had a five-point night, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins got three points, Duncan Keith and Sharp provided the helpers for Jordan Eberle‘s goal…mon dieu! C’est bon! Their next victory was a thinner 3-2 dub over Switzerland, but once again Eberle got a goal and assisted on one by John Tavares, who then helped Eberle out too. Cam Ward assisted on Ryan Getzlaf‘s game-untying goal in the third period. Then, they took on host country and as-yet-undefeated Finland. Though Finland got the first two goals, Canada staged a comeback and won 5-3. Once again, Tavares and Eberle were among the goal-scorers. Keith got two assists.
Standing: First in Group H, 13 points
The Swedes beat Denmark 6-4 and some familiar faces were a big part of it. Viktor Stalberg opened up scoring, helped out by Marcus Kruger and Niklas Hjalmarsson. (Krista was, er, very pleased to hear about this.)
Later in the same period, after Loui Eriksson scored two in a row (both on the power play), Stalberg did it again…giving Sweden a 4-0 lead. Though Denmark did try to fight back, and they came very close, two more Swedish goals were all it took to assemble the win. Sweden continued their unbeaten streak by defeating Germany 5-2 and once again the Swedish Hawk Mafia had a big role in it: Stalberg goal, Kruger goal, Hjalmarsson assist on Stalberg goal. Ah, but then came a problematic opponent–Russia. Both teams boasting unbeaten records, well, someone has to lose. Turns out it would be Sweden, losing 7-3. Though Sweden got off to a good start, building up a 3-1 lead, Russia opened the floodgates and scored six unanswered goals. Evgeni Malkin even had a hat trick.
Standing: Second in Group S, 12 points
First the Czechs put together a 4-3 win over Norway. It even included a Michael Frolik goal and an assist by four-decade dreamboat Petr Nedved, but the game went to a shootout where Ales Hemsky‘s goal was the only one needed (David Krejci shot, but his shot was saved–also, in IIHF rules, after three shootout shooters go, coaches can reuse guys if desired).
Nedved struck again as part of a 3-1 win over Latvia. Then, the Czechs decided they were hungry for pasta and proceeded to completely demolish the Italian team 6-0. Krejci helped out on a Nedved goal, Hemsky scored again and so did new arrival Martin Erat among others. Italy is getting very close to being completely cooked and not even making it any further, just being totally eliminated.
Standing: Third in Group S, 11 points
So here’s a fun fact I didn’t know because I guess I didn’t connect the dots enough–or see a picture of the guy, which I did now–but Marian Hossa has a little brother Marcel and he is on the Slovakian team. Marcel also wears number 81. Aww.
Anyway, as mentioned above, Slovakia won against America and then put together a 4-2 win against Kazakhstan. One of Slovakia’s goals in that victory came on the power play with an assist to Chara! Well, he does do well on the man advantage, provided he’s not the guy sitting in the bin. Slovakia is also a little behind; they’ve only played two games since the last update, whereas everyone else has three under their belts, but the team decided to embark on a quality team-building exercise. So what did they do? Why, they went go-karting. (That page is in Slovak, but it’s pretty clear-cut where the pictures are.) Well, everyone except one guy, who is too tall to fit in a go-kart, so he sat on the sidelines in a fetching blue jumpsuit and was just awesome. Yep, you guessed it: Big Z, too big for the G-K. Aww. Still, after turning the boat around from two consecutive losses to an improved 2-2 record, you gotta celebrate.
Standing: Fourth in Group H, 6 points (four games played)
Next up for our teams
USA: Finland, May 13
Canada: Kazakhstan, May 12
Sweden: Italy, May 12
Czech Republic: Russia, May 13
Slovakia: Belarus (Now with 200% more Kostitsyns!), May 12