Saturday featured three pre-tournament games leading up to the World Cup of Hockey. The day started out with Team Russia versus Team Czech Republic, then followed with Team Finland versus Team Sweden and in the evening was Team Canada versus Team USA.
Team Russia 1 versus Team Czech Republic 2 (SO)
Nikita Kucherov – 1-0-1, +1, 2 SOG, 18:22 TOI
Vladislav Namestnikov – 0-0-0, E, 1 SOG, 1 Hit, 13:30 TOI
Nikita Nesterov – 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 1 SOG, 2 Hits, 2 Blocks, 18:00 TOI
Andrei Vasilevskiy – DNP
Ondrej Palat – 0-0-0, E, 6 PIM, 2 SOG, 4 Hits, 17:47 TOI
Andrej Sustr – 0-0-0, -1, 1 SOG, 2 Blocks, 17:10 TOI
The first and second periods were a bit chippy with 11 minor penalties given out, but no goals scored. Palat got two minors for roughing in the first period after an altercation with Alexei Emelin. Palat also received a minor for kneeing in a scary incident with Kucherov. Kucherov was shaken up on the play, but did not miss any time. Nesterov also received a 2 minute minor for boarding Michal Jordan. Palat would also draw a hooking penalty in the third period when Kulemin hooked him.
Kucherov opened up the scoring in the third period with an easy one-timer in front of the net off of a beauty of a cross-crease saucer pass by Evgeni Kuznetsov. That line with Alexander Ovechkin continues to find chemistry and could prove to be one of the most dangerous lines in the World Cup of Hockey. On Kuznetsov had more TOI among Russian forwards than Kucherov. He also started the overtime period with Kuznetsov and they were one of only two pairs of forwards for Russia to get more than one shift in OT.
Andrej Sustr had an okay game but was on ice for Kucherov’s goal. He also got away with a hook on Ovechkin on a breakaway in the overtime period. Nesterov similarly had a solid, but not spectacular game. Namestnikov continues to be a top penalty kill option for the Russians as he had 2:57 on the penalty kill.
Palat was one of the better players on the ice for the Czech Republic. While he never capitalized, he was in on a lot of plays especially in the third period and had a couple of great chances.
Kucherov had a chance to tie up the shootout in the third round and he beat the goalie but hit the post giving the Czechs the 2-1 shootout win.
Team Finland 3 versus Team Sweden 6
Valtteri Filppula – 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 78% Faceoffs, 17:01 TOI
Anton Stralman – 0-0-0, +2, 2 SOG, 1 Hit, 16:16 TOI
Victor Hedman – 0-0-0, +2, 1 SOG, 2 Hits, 2 Blocks, 15:02 TOI
Sweden dominated much of this game against Finland. These two rivals had some more chippiness, but Sweden prevailed adding 3 goals in the third period including an empty netter to pull away with the game after a 3-2 following the 2nd period.
Filppula had the third most TOI among Finland’s forwards and continues to get plenty of time on the power play and the penalty kill. He was also very successful in the faceoff dot with his 78% win percentage. His TOI this game was a bit less than last game as Sweden succeeded in staying out of the penalty box as often as they did in the previous meeting.
With Erik Karlsson and Oliver Ekman-Larsson on Sweden’s blue line, Hedman and Stralman won’t be seeing much time on the power play. However, they continue to be one of Sweden’s go to pairs for the penalty kill both getting 4:05 on the penalty kill. Though this game, Hjalmarsson and Ekman-Larsson had more ice time at closer to 4:30 on the penalty kill this game. Stralman and Hedman were 4th and 5th among Sweden’s defense while Ekholm only got 6:49 TOI as Sweden is riding Karlsson and Ekman-Larsson.
Team USA versus Team Canada
Ben Bishop – 1 GA, 14 Shots on goal, .929 SV%, 3.00 GAA, 20:00 TOI
Steven Stamkos – 0-2-2, E, 4 SOG, 15:20 TOI
Stamkos finally got on the score sheet with two assists on the power play. The first came as he passed the puck from the center point to Tavares in the right wing circle for a one timer. His second assist came against Ben Bishop in the third period as he pulled the puck off of his skates in a pretty nifty move. He got the puck through the five hole of Bishop, but it bounced off to the side of the net where Tavares was ready to put the puck in the net.
I have to say, for the way that Team USA Head Coach John Tortorella has used Bishop so far in the first two games, he’s played remarkably well. It’s really tough to go out for warm ups and sit on the bench for over two hours before getting on the ice. And then, you’re going against the best team in the tournament. He’s allowed two goals on 24 shots in two periods of play. Jonathan Quick is still the number one option for USA, but hopefully Bishop will get an actual start to show what he can do coming in warm and not cold off the bench.
Next up is Team Europe versus Team North America on Sunday at 6pm ET. The game will be on ESPN3 streaming. The next match after that will be Team Finland versus Team USA on Tuesday and will air on ESPN since there aren’t other any other sports conflicting with ESPN’s scheduling of hockey games.