2016 World Cup of Hockey Preview: Playoff Outlook

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It may be more than a decade since the World Cup of hockey last took place but there is still one team that remains the defending champions.

The Canadians are the defending champions of the World Cup as 2004 saw them take the title as best in the world.

That year the Finns were the team that met them in the finals and the Canadians took the win to take what seemed like the last World Cup of Hockey ever.

They are the defending champions in the World Cup and entering this newest version they are also the defending world champions.

The Canadians have been on top of the international hockey world for two straight years winning the biggest international tournament in the World Championships.

The Canadians come into this new version of the World Cup as the clear favourites for everyone but being a favourite is very different in this era of international hockey.

The Canadians might be the best team on paper but there are more great teams than ever before in international hockey.

The game continues to grow around the world and some of the smaller teams that used to be ignored are actually beginning to become powerhouses in these major tournaments.

Finland is a perfect expression of this as they have become a team to be watched after their success at the World Juniors.

Their young talent has begun to win the Juniors regularly and they are a team that needs to be watched.

They have been a good team in the past but have seen some lean years although the success of the junior team could mean big things for the future.

The Americans are also a team that continues to get more consistently good as the years go on.

In 2004 that process was beginning with some major stars from the USA taking focus.

Now the NHL is full of American stars that can fill out an All-Star roster like the one they are bringing to Toronto.

There are more good teams than ever and for the Canadians that could be trouble that goes along with their long-time rival Russians who are once again considered the team built to challenge Canada.hockey-sidebar

What is more interesting about this tournament are the two other teams that the NHL created to ease the issues in selecting on of the second-tier European teams.

Instead of making that choice they put together a team of the best under-23 players from North America and an all-star team made up of all other European teams.

Team North America and Team Europe are the wild cards of the tournament as nobody knows just how good they can be.

The North Americans impressed in pre-tournament play as they have some of the biggest names in the sport right now.

Europe has some of the best players in the NHL as they were able to take the best players from multiple countries.

Either could win the entire thing but there is such mystery surrounding how good they can be it is a complete unknown.

The tournament has plenty of contenders and could be an extremely interesting one with so little room for error.

One loss can change everything with only four teams in each group and only three round robin games.

If a favourite like Canada or Russia gets surprised it could change the entire look of the World Cup.

That likely won’t happen though as the Russians and the Canadians are just too deep to see them losing.

Even if their top players falter they have players that would be the stars of most other teams to back them up.

That is why the 206 World Cup will end with a classic international hockey rivalry as the Russians and Canadians will face off in the best of three series to win the title.

It will be the toughest game they have played all tournament but they will come out on top and defend their World Cup.

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