2016 IIHF World Championship Report (Day 4)

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The World Championships are a display of the best in the world, at least for the most part, as top players fill out every roster for every team.

Many already know where their lot is in the hockey world as they are full-time NHLers or KHLers or even full-time in other smaller European leagues.

Generally, the World Championship if full of players that have been around these leagues for at least a few years if not more.

They are veterans and have the experience needed to deal with the issues that a tournament like this brings.

As has been seen already this year is a slightly younger group though and the biggest evidence of that might be two of the most watched players in the tournament this year.

Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine will forever have their names attached to each other much like Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall.

The reason being is that there is now a debate among NHL analysts regarding which player will make the biggest impact on the NHL next year.

As soon as Connor McDavid was drafted in 2015 the conversation turned to a young kid from Arizona that had impressed everyone.

Matthews was the first true star from a place where many don’t believe hockey belongs as he grew up a Phoenix Coyotes fan and fell in love with the game.

Through his development, including his decision to play in Switzerland during his final year before the draft, he was considered the best player in the draft.

There was simply nobody else in the draft that could match the power forward in skill level and ability to change the direction of a franchise.

He wasn’t McDavid in that he was never expected to be a generational player but he was a clear top pick in the draft.

As seasons closed out around the world though one other player began making some headlines and getting attention.

Laine was considered a great player in the draft but over the last few months, a debate began regarding if he was truly the top pick in the draft.

Then both players were named to their national teams in what seems like one last tryout before the draft.

After three days in the tournament it seemed like if there was a debate within the Maple Leafs, winners of the draft lottery, the Finn was taking the edge.hockey-sidebar

Laine had put up six points in two games played and looked like the best player on a good Finnish roster.

Meanwhile, Matthews looked invisible in his first game against the Canadians, all players he will be playing next year, and managed three points against the Belarusians.

Laine was looking to be the most impressive player in the tournament which might change some minds heading into the draft.

A better might have been each of their games in Day 4 though when they faced each other in a head to head game that is rarely seen between two top prospects.

The game might not have proven a whole lot though as neither played exceptionally with Laine held off of the scoresheet but winning the game and Matthews earning an assist but losing.

Neither really did much in the game to prove that they were better than the other but there is plenty of tournament left.

Many people believe that it won’t matter what Laine does as the Leafs are in need of a player like Matthews and have been for a long time.

If Laine does end the tournament as the best scorer it might just make Winnipeg much happier about being the second pick than they may have been originally.

There is something to be said about Laine performing at the level he is right now though as he is lighting up the tournament.

He was shut down by the best team they have faced so far and he has yet to play Canada but as of right now he looks very good.

Continuing on his path right now is just going to make the debate tougher especially if he can help the Finns to a gold medal.

The two top prospects in this year’s draft may be happy to play for their countries but they are playing for much more than that.

The debate will only continue and won’t be finished until the draft and for now, all either player can do is play their best while they hope to guide their country to a medal.

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Day 4:
Russia 4-0 Latvia
– The Latvians had a perfect upset situation as they had been playing great and Russia was playing below their standard but the Russians woke up against Latvia and earned the shutout win in what they hope to be the kick start to a medal run

Canada 8-0 Belarus
– The Canadians continued their winning streak that began last year as they easily got by the Belarusians with eight goals that kept them at the top of their group and put them closer to a playoff spot

Czech Republic 4-2 Sweden
– The Czechs have continued to prove that they are a team to be watched and they proved it once again against a tough test in Sweden and with their toughest games behind them they seem to be set to win Group A

Finland 3-2 USA
– It was a match-up of the top two picks but neither was overly impressive as the Finns took the win and the Americans lost their second game against a top team in the tournament putting their medal hopes in doubt

Day 5:
Switzerland vs. Denmark (Tuesday, May 10th; 9:15 am ET)
– The Swiss are generally a steady team in international hockey but this year they have struggled to get anything going while the Danes have already taken a win and tries to get their second in what could be a key game in the playoff battle

Slovakia vs. Germany (Tuesday, May 10th; 9:15 am ET)
– The Germans are back trying to get things turned in the right direction after losing their first two games while the Slovaks look to solidify their spot in the playoffs with another win over a team that was hoping to fight for the playoffs this year

Kazakhstan vs. Norway (Tuesday, May 10th; 1:15 pm ET)
– Fresh off of their first win of the tournament Kazakhstan is trying to get another one and push even further away from relegation while building up their points for a serious playoff run while the Norwegians look for the same result

Hungary vs. France (Tuesday, May 10th; 1:15 pm ET)
– Hungary may have been happy with their first goal against Canada but they need to start winning if they want to stay in the top tier and they will take on France, fresh off of a loss, looking for that first win

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