Friday, September 30, 2016

World Cup Wrap up

Final Recap
The World cup of Hockey finished up last night after two quick goals in the final three minutes were scored by Canada after they were down 1-0 to Team Europe the majority of the game.  Team Canada's goals were scored by Patrice Bergeron on a tip in and by Brad Marchand off of a wrist shot, both players are members of the Boston Bruins and Zdeno Chara who is also a Bruin scored the only Team Europe goal.  The Europeans were a few minutes away from extending the finals series but the constant speed and pressure Team Canada was rolling proved too much for the under dogs.  Both goalies, Carey Price, and Jaroslav Halak kept their teams in the game and at the end it was the superior talent team that won out.  The first game of the finals set was won by Canada 3-1 in an effort that was not so pretty to watch, it speaks to Canada's talent that even on off nights they have the talent to get W's.

Tournament Take away
My prediction for the tournament was that Team North America would take home the gold, I was most certainly incorrect, but they were by far the most exciting team to watch.  The North Americans had speed, pride, and the most upside of any team in the tournament.  TNA went 2-1 losing only once, to a Russian team who scored 4 goals in a matter of 6 minutes, that game ended 4-3 after TNA scored two more goals of their own to put pressure on the Russians.  TNA's victories were 4-1 over Finland and 3-2 OT over Sweden after Nathan Mackinnon undressed Henrik Lundqvist (we wish literally am I right?) all alone in front of the net to end an absolutely electric Over time session which also featured an important toe save by John Gibson at the other end right before Mack's goal.  TNA ended up not advancing because of their loss to Russia, a game they would have won if not for their 6 minute collapse.  From what I saw in the tournament, the U24 team from the NA was the second best team overall in the tournament, maybe first overall in talent, but Canada definitely had the upper hand in overall experience and success from its players.

Team Europe was a huge surprise in this tournament, the only team to beat them was Canada, albeit 3 times over the course of two weeks, nobody was expecting The Europeans to have any sort of success.  Europe and North America were the two gimmicky teams that were implemented this year, North America was the young guns and Europe was the mixed bag of less than elite countries and old Slovakians.  I thought the gimmick teams were a joke at first, but at least North America would be exciting.  Team Europe was beaten badly in each pre-tournament game they had but stepped it up when it mattered and beat USA, Czechs, and The consistently good Swedes to advance to the final series with Canada.  Some of Europe's best players were Marian Hossa, Zdeno Chara, Tobias Rieder, and Leon Draisaitl, the former two being near the end of their careers and the latter two the same age as the North Americans.  Europe contained Canada for much of the final two games but it was obvious that their level of skill and talent just wasn't on par with Canada.  Europe was a surprise considering many pundits did not expect them to even win a game let alone come in second overall.

Team USA took over what I thought Team Europe would be, they scored 2 goals over their first two games, both losses, before putting up 3 in their final game, which was also a loss.  I don't know if it's because Team USA isn't Canada, filled up with much less pride and determination, with zero comeback in their blood, but yeah actually that's exactly what I think it is.  If the Americans do well in an international tournament, it is big news, we slayed the top hockey talents and are on our way to being on par with Sweden, and Canada.  If America does not do well in an international tournament, nobody in America cares, so I have to think that is on their minds throughout these matches.  We big time hockey fans keep hearing that Americans are on the precipice of hockey greatness, but every time I see these guys get down in a game, there is no fight.  One huge knock on America though is that the TNA took away their most skilled guys, players like Johnny Gaudreau, Jack Eichel, Shayne Gostisbehere, Seth Jones, and Auston Matthews.  Team Canada was so good that they didn't even need a superstar like Connor McDavid, however Team USA did not have that luxury and really missed out on high end talent.  Team USA was disappointing but at this point I'm not surprised if they lay a goose egg, they either medal or are an embarrassment. 

Here wraps up the wrap up

Team Canada was head and shoulders above the rest and it comes as no surprise that they hoisted the hardware.  If you have a fourth line of Matt Duchene, Joe Thornton, and Ryan O'Rielly, and at any time Claude Giroux could be your 13th forward, you are gonna win some tournaments.  I give credit to The Canadians but there is almost nothing to say about them, it is like USA Basketball, winning is expected and almost a given.  For the most part the tournament was kinda boring, the surprises were how good Europe was and how bad Finland was, the former second team in the world put up a goose egg and highly touted prospect Patrik Laine's claim to fame was a big hit against the North Americans.  Yet again America had hopes that were diminished, Russia much the same, making the semi's and losing to Canada, Putin is for sure pissed.  Team Canada and TNA would have been the bet matchup of the tournament but sadly that never came to fruition.  Team Europe and TNA made for exciting hockey but they will more than likely not be in the tournament in 2020, replaced by a more traditional format.  I give this tournament a 6 out of 10, 4 points taken off for all the games North America did not participate in.

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