2018 IIHF World Championship: Playoff Preview

gyi0062953752.0The World Championships have been a somewhat unpredictable tournament this year as easy games turned out to be a little tougher than many thought and superstar teams are not walking away with anything.

Gaps have been closing in recent years and it is showing every year as games that were once seen to be boring are turning exciting.

Even the best teams are no longer able to take a game off for the chance that a team they are supposed to beat decides to show up.

This year there was an unexpected result from almost every one of the big teams as they either struggled or lost against a team that nobody thought they would.

The Canadians had a rough year losing their first game to the Americans and then losing to the Finns.

Neither of those were a big surprise though as the Canadians were expected to be good but the Americans and Finns were the two teams expected to challenge the Canadians in the group.

What wasn’t expected was an overtime game against the Latvians that took away an important point in their pursuit of a top spot, although that extra point would have them tied with the USA who had already beat them.

Although the win was a surprise for how they got it, the fact is Latvia has long been a thorn in the side of big teams.

They were this year as they were able to also take the Americans to overtime while winning those middle-ground games that they needed.

The two overtime games against the North Americans were important for Latvia who finished two points ahead of Denmark for the final playoff spot.

That helped them to join the big three of the group in the playoffs where they try to continue their surprising ways.

The Finns weren’t immune from the surprises themselves as a loss to Denmark was not what anyone thought after their hot start to the tournament.

In Group A, the Swedes were shocked by the Slovakians in a tight loss that made one of the most talented teams in the tournament look human.

They were joined by the Russians who took a loss to the Czechs in a game that is becoming one to watch in every tournament with the recent struggles of the Russians.

Overall the tournament seemed to guarantee that nobody would come out unscathed as the big teams all found their issues.

In the end, though they are all still in the playoffs as their dominance continues with no shocking exits for the big five.  hockey-sidebar

Now is the time where they will need to put it into another gear, a gear that those big five all have.

The eight teams in the playoffs have done the work and despite their issues in the group stage none of that matters.

If they can find their game they will look to take a medal this time around but if the struggles continue there could be some shockers.

The Latvian reputation for playing their best in big games will be tested in a big way when they take on the Swedes.

They can’t be looked past and although the Swedes are a very talented team but the Latvians will sneak up on them if they’re not careful.

The Finns will look to take out the Swiss but like the Latvians, they do have a tendency to play well in the big games.

They should get past them this time around but nothing is given especially this year.

The big games will be interesting ones as the Americans will take on the Czechs who have been playing well with their reinforcements.

Although USA is a talented team the Czechs were able to get past a talented team in the Russians, so they have the ability.

The Canadians will face an old rival in the Russians for a game that is happening a little too soon for some hockey fans.

It is always a tough battle and this time around only one team will play for a medal while the other leaves disappointed.

The playoffs are here and the surprises could continue but those great teams usually find a way to play for the medals at the end of the tournament.

playoffpreview-prediction

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