Chicago, IL — We are winding down in the preliminary round of the IIHF tournament. Day 10 saw several games with our Blackhawks in them. The first of which was Team USA taking on Team Slovakia.
Not much happened in this game for our Hawks as the USA went on to a 6-1 landslide. Nick Schmaltz did not hit the score sheet.
There was one play where Trevor Van Riemsdyk I’m sure would like to have back. He zigged when he should have zagged thus letting attacker in behind him and it accounted for the only goal against. Luckily Team USA only needed one point and still got three to advance to second round.
The real test for Team USA will come Tuesday against Team Russia who has been rolling and looks almost unstoppable.
The second game with our Hawks in it was Team Czech Republic thumping 5-2 Team France. Michal Kempny had an assist on of our Repik”s two goals. The win put Czech Republic in second place in Group B and moving them into the second round.
Lastly Team Sweden defeated Team Denmark 4-2 which saw Marcus Kruger with a set up of Joel Lundqvist on Sweden’s first goal. With the win Sweden is now in third place in group A behind Teams Russia and USA. They will advance to the second round.
Day 11 only had Team Russia vs Team Latvia for our Blackhawk players. Luckily Artemi Panarin was back from his upper body injury and to say he dominated the game was an understatement. He was all over the ice in a total domination by Team Russia of 5-0 over a very good Latvian team.
Artemi ended up with three assists which put him back into the scoring lead with 13 points for the tournament. He also had new line mates in what you’d have to call a NHL line with Vladislov Namestnikov and Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Let’s just say they clicked pretty well. The line ended up with seven points. Panarin set up D man Bogdan Kiselevich for the first Russian goal and it was an offensive onslaught for the remainder of the game.
Surprisingly the contest was pretty testy especially around the Latvian crease.
Panarin had a beauty of a cross ice pass to Namestnikov on a two on one which the Latvian goalie had no chance on. This goal was actually on the power play but it was a thing of beauty.
Maybe only rivaled by Panarin’s final assist from behind the Latvian goal line to set up Kucherov in the slot which again the goalie had not chance on. As the Canadian announcer said Wow yeah that pretty much summed up that set up. By this time the game was firmly controlled by Team Russia.
Panarin actually had several more opportunities but they just didn’t get buried. For how good Team Latvia has been there really was never any doubt as Team Russia controlled the tempo and puck the entire game.
The real test for Team Russia will be tomorrow in what should be a dandy against Team USA. It will be interesting to see who comes out of this one with the lead in Group A.
Team Russia is only getting stronger with the additions of Washington Capitals Dmitri Orlov and Yevgeni Kuznetsov. So Team Russia is pretty much a mix of KHL/NHL high end talents. Team USA is fast, very fast. If there is one team however that can rival them both in skating and stick handling it is Team Russia.
Team USA probably is the faster skating team but Team Russia is probably the more creative skating team with all of their turns and cut backs, lets just hope the ice is good so it does not hamper either teams skating skills.
Both teams are very good with their sticks but I would probably give the edge to Team USA here especially along the boards but give Team Russia the edge in creativity of making plays.
I would assume Vasilevski will be in net for Russia and Howard for the USA. It should be a great game. If you can I would advise tuning into NHL Network at 9 AM CT to catch this contest as each goes for the right to lead group A. Both teams are already into the second round so this is just for bragging rights.
Video taken from You Tube belonging to IIHF.