Archive for International Hockey
With last night’s loss to the Czech Republic, the United States capped off an absolutely humiliating overall performance in the World Cup of Hockey. This event was an embarrassment the USA Hockey organization had not experienced since 1998 in the Nagano Olympics, and highlighted the need for systemic change amongst their leadership.
With the archaic brain trust seeking to replicate David v. Goliath glories of old, specifically 1980 and 1996, the organization’s leadership lost sight of how to actually build a hockey team. They packed their suitcases with hard hats and sand paper, and headed off the World Cup to announce loudly and proudly that they truly do not understand the modern game. Read More→
There was so much promise when the World Cup of Hockey was announced. The first time in 12 years, and we’d get to see Team USA again, hopefully with a better ending than the 2010 Olympics. But then the little things started creeping up on Team USA.
First it was the announcement that no players under 23 would be on Team USA. No, they’d be on Team North America. A great idea, but one that cost Team USA players like Seth Jones, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Jacob Trouba on defense. Jack Eichel and Johnny Gaudreau were lost at forward as well. You can make the argument that some weren’t going to make Team USA regardless, but a more new-age thinking shows it could have been different.
The World Cup of Hockey has finally started its official matchups, and Team USA and Europe had the distinct privilege of being the ones to open the tournament. Things didn’t go exactly as planned for the United States however, with the squad falling losing in a 3-0 shutout despite lofty expectations and a relatively easy opponent.
While Team USA tried to play a hard hitting, gritty game to take control of the action, Europe’s patience and playmaking paid off, taking away space from the Americans and setting up multiple odd-man situations. This provided something of an upset for the Europeans, and gives Team USA an uphill battle going forward as they look ahead to Canada and the Czech Republic.
Europe 1 USA 0
Happy Friday, BSB community. I’m going to go out of character and hit you with a short thoughts post today. I’ve been buried at work and we rescued a cat this week that was dumped in a park, so I’m a bit short on time. Either way, the World Cup starts this weekend, Traverse City does too, and before we know it, Rangers hockey returns. As you can imagine, I have some thoughts.
- I don’t blame those of you who think the World Cup is a cheap gimmick. Especially when you see the league use it as an excuse to introduce non-traditional elements; Adidas jerseys, uniform ads (albeit very small ones) and teams representing non-nationalities. However, I am a sucker for professional hockey being played during times I wouldn’t normally see it coughWinterClassiccough. So, I’ll be watching curiously, actively rooting against the USA’s Brooksian (Herb, not Larry) roster construction and laughably dated outlook on how to build a winning team.
Well it’s almost time for the World Cup. It’s the first time the tournament has run since 2004 when Canada won it all. Team USA won the inaugural World Cup in 1996 on the back of Mike Richter, who was phenomenal in that tournament. The preseason games have been chippy, which is a welcome sight. Many were concerned that the players would gloss over this. That doesn’t appear to be the case. With real games starting soon, all eyes will be on this tournament.
- Team USA has surprised a few in the exhibition games, beating Canada (once in two games) and Finland, finishing the pre-tournament schedule with a 2-1 record. Most, including myself, expect Team USA to struggle due to a lack of scoring depth. That may still be the case, but for now, they are hanging in there.
- Team North America is fun to watch. They steamrolled Team Europe twice, and have one more exhibition game to go. They could surprise people in this tournament. Assuming they beat Finland in round robin play, a surprise win against Russia may not be that much of a surprise, launching them to the single elimination tournament.
The World Cup games are underway, even if it’s just pre-tournament games. There is finally some hockey on TV, which is always good. But the World Cup is drawing some negative attention from people who want it to fail. I see that point. So here are some musings on why I’m excited, and why I’m not, for the World Cup of Hockey.
Why I’m Excited
1.International hockey is always fun for me. It’s exciting to see players outside of their club situations, and the selection of players on each team means that each night is going to be filled with great hockey. There’s rich opportunity for compelling narrative too – will Canada continue their dominance in international hockey or will a team like North America make a splash? It’s just a great opportunity for great players to showcase their talents and hopefully bring glory to their country in the name of sport.
For the first time since 2004, the World Cup of Hockey has returned. This has been quite the polarizing event since it was announced. Many feel it is simply a cash grab by the NHL, risking injury prior to the regular season. Others are delighted that we have an early return for hockey and some interesting international competition between Olympic years (the NHL’s continued participation is a topic for a whole different post). Either way, we will see the puck drop a few weeks early this season.
Naturally, there has been quite a bit of hand wringing over roster decisions; Team USA’s archaic, backwater team building philosophy chief among them. This morning, though, I am here to talk about the goaltending for each team. In case you have been actively avoiding the tournament and its nuances, quick primer: there are eight teams competing, six of which are familiar. USA, Canada, Sweden, Russia, Finland and the Czech Republic are properly represented. The final two teams are Team North America, comprised of American and Canadian players, twenty-three years of age or younger, and Team Europe, which catches all European players not rostered with one of the other countries.
It’s September, and while the NHL regular season is still somewhat far off, hockey is just around the corner. With the return of the World Cup of Hockey, fans will have some solid hockey to sate their appetites before things really get underway for the club teams in October. Although Becky has already weighed in with a great preview of the general action, I figured I’d do a deep dive into Team Sweden for a couple of reasons. The first is because our very own King, Henrik Lundqvist, is the team’s biggest star, and second is that I’m high on this team’s roster and think they’re my favorite to win it all (with North America being my dark horse pick).
Let’s start with the forwards. Some disappointing news came recently when it was announced that Henrik Zetterberg, a veteran of the squad, would be unable to play, but Mikael Backlund should prove to be a serviceable replacement. Along similar lines, Alex Steen, a highly effective two-way forward, will be replaced by Rickard Rakell, who is also more than capable of filling Steen’s shoes. From there, although there’s no real superstars (except for maybe Nicklas Backstrom) on the front end there are plenty of quality players ready to make a splash on the big stage. Recent Stanley Cup winner and former New York Ranger fan favorite Carl Hagelin’s on the team, as are the likes of Filip Forsberg, Patric Hornqvist, and Gabe Landeskog. All in all, while the team lacks the offensive firepower of say Canada, they should be able to put up points effectively, especially with the defense chipping in as well.
Beginning September 17, the world of hockey will bring back the international competition that so many of us crave without having to wait for the 2018 Winter Games. The World Cup of Hockey will reinstitute itself next month in an effort to bring about some good hockey fun prior to the season starting.
Teams have been fully announced, with several alternate players selected. The tournament is assembled with only eight teams, which allows for each team to get a fair shot at making it to the finals. Teams like Team North America and Team Europe will be comprised of either youngsters or of several nationalities who may not have otherwise created a team. It’s an exhibition that should prove to be fun for fans to watch.
With the playoffs potentially ending tonight, the focus will shift to the draft, free agency, and the World Cup. Rosters were finalized about two weeks ago, and can be found courtesy of Sports Illustrated here.
Since there is really no cohesive way to jump from team to team, I’ve assembled my thoughts in lazy summer Sunday bulletpoints: Read More→