2016 Worlds takeaway
2016 Worlds takeaway
As teams head home, how do they feel?
Herewith a synopsis of the mood of the 16 participating nations as they head home and ponder the results.
Canada (gold) – When you repeat as champions, lose only one game, honour a new Triple Gold Club member (Corey Perry) and have a 19-year-old set a record for fastest to U18, U20, WM gold (Connor McDavid), all you can do is smile and look forward to next year.
Finland (silver) – Suomi has risen so high in people’s minds that when they beat Russia 3-1 in the semi-finals, no one called it an upset. The team also boasted two incredible teens this season including tournament MVP Patrik Laine, who together with Jesse Puljujarvi is expected to go in the top five of the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.
Russia (bronze) – No, the hosts didn’t win gold, but they played an inspired bronze-medal game and showcased several young superstars, notably Artemi Panarin, Vadim Shipachyov, and Yevgeni Dadonov.
United States (4th) – Although the youngest team in the championship lost its last two games, the job GM Jim Johannson did in assembling this energetic group that was a goal away from the gold-medal game is nothing short of genius. And Auston Matthews, the expected number-one pick in the upcoming NHL draft, lived up to his reputation and more.
Czech Republic (5th) – For the first time ever, the Czechs finished off the podium for a fourth straight year. After an impressive 3-0 win over Russia to start, the team played well but couldn’t get by the Americans in the quarter-finals, losing 2-1 in a shootout. Surely a disappointing result.
Sweden (6th) – The Swedes brought, by their high standards, a sub-par team, but that’s because some players who usually accept the invite declined and because their many other stars were still in the Stanley Cup playoffs. No worries with Tre Kronor, though. They are world class all the way.
Germany (7th) – The Germans showed character and promise this year one year before hosting the event. They gave up five goals in a game only twice, and that was to the two gold-medal-game teams. They also came up with a clutch 4-2 win over Belarus late in the Preliminary Round when it mattered most. A team on the rise.
Denmark (8th) – After enduring a terrible 10-1 loss to Russia, the Danes could have folded. Instead, they won three straight games and qualified for the playoffs for only the second time. The NHLers Lars Eller and Nikolaj Ehlers were excellent, and goalie Sebastian Dahm often sensational in the Danish net.
Slovakia (9th) – In the three games they won, Slovakia scored 12 goals. In the four games they lost, they scored but three goals. This is not the same team that won Worlds gold in 2002, so fans have to wait patiently until the next generation of stars develops.
Norway (10th) – The swansong for coach Roy Johansen was memorable for a 3-1 win over Latvia, but the team’s overall performance can be traced to a lack of offence. It scored just 13 times in seven games and finished in the middle of the pack, not good enough for the playoffs, not poor enough to fear relegation.
Switzerland (11th) – A disappointing first year for Swiss coach Patrick Fischer saw the team play in SIX one-goal games and win only two games overall. Given that the team won silver just three years earlier, this has to be a result that will leave fans shaking their head.
Belarus (12th) – Belarus beat Slovakia and France to finish sixth in Group B, but there was a day or two of worry that it might face relegation. These are tough times for a nation which has been in the top division for 12 years and counting.
Latvia (13th) – The Latvians won only once, a 2-1 win over Kazakhstan, the team that was relegated. Four of their six losses were by one goal and a fifth was by only two goals. The team was close in every game but simply couldn’t score – or prevent – a timely goal.
France (14th) – The co-hosts for 2017 were protected from demotion by virtue of this fact, but they nevertheless did what they had to do to finish out of last place. Big wins over Germany and Hungary ensured a seventh-place finish in Group B, but like many of the weaker teams, goalscoring proved problematic.
Hungary (15th) – A 5-2 win over Belarus was the nation’s first World Championship win in the top level in 77 years and was one of the endearing moments of the entire tournament. Unfortunately, they couldn’t back this up in their final game against Germany, losing 4-2 and being relegated. Their fans are, well, fantastic, and the team is proving to be in between top level and Division I, meaning they’ll be back sooner rather than later.
Kazakhstan (16th) – Despite the impressive play of the North American line of Nigel Dawes, Brandon Bochenski, and Dustin Boyd, the team simple couldn’t keep the puck out of its own net long enough to record more than one win, an opening night, 3-2 win versus Switzerland. Demoted, they, too, will likely bounce back up at some point soon.
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