2016 IIHF World Championship Report (Day 2)

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The division in the haves and have-nots in hockey has been around for years and in some ways, it can make the World Championship a lot less fun.

When the best teams face the other teams it is rarely a great game and usually, the result can be predicted.

It isn’t until the best teams face each other with a lot on the line that the hockey picks up.

It has been that way for years in multiple tournaments and it can make many people simply not care until the playoffs begin.

Heading into a new World Championship the expectation was much the same as those great teams were expected to be the teams competing while the rest were simply going to fall out.

Then the tournament started and only two days in the teams that nobody expected to compete are making lives difficult for some of the best teams.

Teams are seemingly closing the gap this year as there are teams that nobody expected to be competing now sitting near the top of the standings.

Group A looks entirely different than what was expected as the Czechs are sitting on top and the Russians near the bottom.

In between is a collection of teams that nobody thought would be getting points this early with enough points to compete.

Kazakhstan took two points in their first game while Denmark sits near the top of the standings after their first win.

Sweden couldn’t get the first three points when they were pushed to overtime and are sitting behind Denmark and Kazakhstan.

Then there is Latvia the one team that is becoming the upset kings in international hockey no matter what tournament they are in.

They have solidified their spot among the best in the world as they are constantly in the top division of every tournament.

While in that top division they seem to be the team that just won’t go away no matter how much more talent is on the other team.

The Latvians started this year’s tournament against the Swedes in a game that was to be a fairly easy game for a very talented Swedish team.

The Latvians pushed the Swedes to overtime taking a point from them to help them in their fight for a playoff spot.

Latvia didn’t get a break in their second game as they had to take on the Czech Republic in another game that they weren’t supposed to win.hockey-sidebar

They once again pushed a top team to the limit and stole a point from the group leaders.

The Latvians are a team that has always been at a different level than the best teams in the world.

They are never a medal team but somehow they fight with everything they have to make life difficult for the other teams.

They are doing the same this year as two games in, they have done more than anyone thought they would.

It has caused plenty of chaos in Group A as teams are now much more vulnerable now than they would be had they taken a regulation win.

The Latvians are just the most glaring example though as there are more teams making sure that they don’t go down without a fight this year.

If that pattern continues it could make for an interesting tournament as more teams could be fighting for a playoff spot than originally thought.

That is only good news for the IIHF as the old way of having very separate teams is not making international hockey any better.

It is great to see the best players from the best countries compete in some great games but international hockey can’t grow with a limited amount of great teams.

Having countries like Kazakhstan, Latvia, and France play better and actually compete can only help the growth of hockey.

For fans who are already in love with the international game, it makes everything a lot more interesting when a game is truly a question.

It is only two days into the tournament though hand things may very well even out as the top teams could rise to the top again.

The initial results will make things interesting though as it seems at the very least there will be more teams fighting for a playoff spot.

It will make games more important as the tournament continues and teams prove what they can do when everything gets more crucial.

day-2.fw

Day 1:
Kazakhstan 3-2 Switzerland (SO)
– The Swiss likely believed their opening game was going to be fairly easy as Kazakhstan is no powerhouse but the Kazakhstanis proved them wrong taking the Swiss to a shootout and getting the win to start their tournament

Slovakia 4-1 Hungary
– Hungary is in the top tier for the first time in years and they were hoping to start it off right but they came up short against the Slovaks who took the win in what was a good start to their medal campaign

Denmark 3-0 Norway
– It was an important game for both teams as either could be fighting each other for a playoffs spot or positioning at the end of the tournament and the Danes fired the first shot taking the win and a crucial three points

France 3-2 Germany (SO)
– With bragging rights on the line for the two future tournament hosts, the French tied the game in the second period and pushed the Germans to a shootout where they came through to take the two points and an early advantage

Czech Republic 4-3 Latvia (SO)
–  The Latvians were at it again against a team better than them on paper as they pushed the Czechs to a shootout taking another point form a good team and leaving the Czechs with a slightly less commanding lead in Group A

USA 6-3 Belarus
– The Americans didn’t start their tournament off the best way losing to a rival but they came back in a big way easily getting by the Belarusians with Auston Matthews earning three points after going pointless in his first game

Day 3:
Kazakhstan vs. Russia (Sunday, May 8th; 5:15 am ET)
– Kazakhstan started their tournament better than expected while the Russians started off worse as they try to get back on track in front of their home crowd while Kazakhstan tries to surprise everyone

Hungary vs. Canada (Sunday, May 8th; 5:15 am ET)
– The Canadians are back from their day off and they will look to continue their World Championship winning streak against the Hungarians who will try to surprise the world against one of the top teams

Norway vs. Switzerland (Sunday, May 8th; 9:15 am ET)
– Neither team has started their tournament the way they wanted and now they face each other trying to get back on track with a win that could help either toward a playoff spot as both need a win now

Finland vs. Germany (Sunday, May 8th; 9:15 am ET)
– The Finns looked great in their first game of the tournament and they will hope to continue that level of play against the Germans who lost their first game and want to at least take a point from the Finns

Sweden vs. Denmark (Sunday, May 8th; 1:15 pm ET)
– The Swedes were not expecting to only have two points after their first game but they will look to get a better result against the Danes who took their first game and are hoping to continue their momentum

France vs. Slovakia (Sunday, May 8th; 1:15 pm ET)
– It was a good start for the French and Slovakia as they both took wins in their first games and will hope to continue the pattern as they take on each other in what could turn out to be an important game for both teams

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