The Ice Hockey World Championship is over for this time and we have experienced an amazing tournament in Prague and Ostrava, Czech Republic the last two weeks. This year’s World Championships was marked by participation of a lot of players from the NHL which raised the quality of the games considerably. The Czech audience has also been world-class, even in games where the host nation didn’t play. We have enjoyed the info, movies and statistics from the tournaments official site during these two weeks: http://www.iihfworlds2015.com/
Before the World Championships started, many stars from the NHL announced that they would play in the tournament. Russia got their usual core from KHL and added to that a number of superstars from NHL where Jevgenij Malkin might have been the most famous one, together with Alexander Ovechkin who joined the team for the semifinal. Sweden also got a number of reinforcements from North America, many young players such as Filip Forsberg and Oliver Ekman-Larsson which we have seen play in the junior championships now took another step in their career, taking leading roles in the national team, side with side by established stars such as Loui Eriksson. One of the world’s best hockey players, Sidney Crosby, who had won both the Stanley Cup and Olympics, announced that he would come and play for team Canada after Pittsburgh Penguins got eliminated from the 2015 Stanley Cup by New York Rangers. The brightest star this tournament was probably Czech veteran Jaromir Jagr. The 43-year-old legend is still playing at top-level in the NHL and now he got to finish his career in the national team at home. He was a big reason to Czech Republic reaching the semifinal with 2 goals and 1 assist in the quarterfinal against Finland.
After the end of the tournament media nominated an all-star team:
Goalkeeper: Connor Hellebuyck, United States
Defenders: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Sweden and Brent Burns, Canada
Forwards: Jaromir Jagr, Czech Republic – Jason Spezza, Canada – Taylor Hall, Canada
Jason Spezza got the most points in the tournament with 14 points in 10 matches, 6 goals and 8 assists. Canada was so dominant in this tournament that they had actually place two and three points in the scoring league as well (Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall).
In group A Canada soon emerged as a very dominant team. For the rest of the teams, it was about trying to secure place 2-4 to reach the playoffs. Sweden quickly got an advantage here after beating Czech Republic on shootout in the first game. They got the second place in the group and went to the playoffs with the Czech Republic and Switzerland behind.
Group B was more open. It began with team USA crushing Finland 5-1. However, Finland tightened their game and didn’t let in a goal for three straight games. Belarus played decent hockey few matches and beat team USA. The Russians didn’t exactly push themselves to their limits in the group stage. Slovakia missed the playoffs. United States won the group ahead of Finland. Russia and Belarus placed third and fourth.
In the playoffs Sweden faced Russia in the quarterfinals. After 21 minutes of play, the Russians were ahead by 3-0. Sweden worked their way into the game however, and managed to tie it 3-3. Unfortunately, the deciding event was an unfortunate bounce on a Swedish defenders skate in the third period. 4-3 and Sweden was eliminated.In the other quarter-finals Canada kept their dominance, beating Belarus 9-0. USA outmaneuvered Switzerland and Jaromir Jagr scored three points when Finland got eliminated against Czech Republic in front of an ecstatic home crowd.
In the semi-finals Canada could relatively easy knock out Czech Republic, stopping their offensive play. USA against Russia was an exciting game during one period before the Russians stepped on the throttle and began producing on the offense. United States got the bronze medal however, and Jaromir Jagr’s tale in the Czech national team ended with fourth place. In the final game Canada once again showed their greatness. After sixty minutes played, Russia had been completely outplayed and the result were written to 6-1 Canada. It could probably have been 10-0 but Canada slowed down the phase i the third period, allowing a consolation goal.
What will we take with us from the world championships in the Czech Republic 2015? For the Swedish part, we have a lot of interesting names that will grow into big stars in the NHL. Filip Forsberg can become an heir to a certain Peter Forsberg, though they are not related. He has the same temperament and physical style of play, even if he is more a pure scorer there “Foppa” was an assistant king. However, we must have with all our best players if we are to beat countries like Canada and Russia. They have ten times as many players to choose from that we have and therefore we are more dependent on “yes please” from our professionals when it comes to play in Tre Kronor. Finally, we note that a hockey game lasts for sixty minutes. That we became aware of after losing despite a 3-0 lead against Canada in the group stage. Every minute counts, it’s the team that can manage the whole game who will win. Potential is not enough, you have to get the maximum effect out of the team too. How this equation is best solved coach Pär Mårts will have to think about before the World Ice Hockey Championships in 2016 in Russia.