Like it or not, the controversial tournament that is the World Cup of Hockey is about to take over your airwaves and your national pride for the next month or so. Pre-tournament games started yesterday, and if the early games (aka not the NA/Europe game) are any indication, the level of energy and physicality might surpass the low expectations that most fans have cast upon this event. Sweden and Canada go in as the favourites from both groups, but the newly formed under-23 North American squad, the powerhouse Americans and the always explosive Russians will surely give those squads a run for their money. Finland, the Czechs and a rest of Europe squad round out the tournament, and we can only hope as fans that they put on a show before we get to the NHL season. In the roundtable, we kept it simple. See more after the jump!
Question: Who will reign supreme at tournament’s end?
I think NA will reign supreme. They’re extremely talented throughout the lineup and are fast. Their only question mark is in net in which a combination of Hellebuyck, Murray, and Gibson will provide more than adequate goaltending. They have a lot of game-breaking talent with McDavid, Eichel, Gaudreau, and many more with the ability to shut down the toughest opposition with Couturier and Parayko. NA also has the most to “prove” at the tournament, and they will very likely be able to do so.
I’m going to go with the safe bet in Team Canada. Obviously they’re a stacked team from top to bottom, so I would not be shocked to see them win it all. Their fourth line would be a fantastic first line on any NHL team, and the same goes with the defense pairings. If that does not impress you, I don’t know what will. North America is definitely a dark horse because of the skill, speed, and smarts throughout their roster. All of the players are already (or will be) NHL stars, they just happen to be younger than the other teams. Sweden will be very good too because they have an incredible defense. But overall, I predict that Canada will reign supreme and Crosby will be lifting the World Cup at the end of this.
I think it’s a relatively even playing field. Nobody really cares, and most of the rosters have enough top-end skill to be competitive, even if they lack the depth that, say, Canada has. If there’s a clear underdog in this tournament, it’s Team Some Of Europe, which is why I’ll be pulling for them. A win by one of the gimmick teams will really drive home how goofy this whole thing is, and after all the hand-wringing over players standing for the national anthem, it would just be too funny to see the only team without an anthem own the podium. Not to mention, if Luca Sbisa can have a decent showing, maybe we can finally unload that contract. Dare to dream.
I see Team USA winning the vase. I will put it to goaltending and the shoulders of Patrick Kane. We always seem to think its us that HAS to win it but the Americans are going to bring it and don’t be surprised if they win it all. I want Canada to win like most of my fellow countrymen but you asked and I say the United States of ‘Murica.
Even though both the Canada and World Cup tournaments have traditionally been dominated by North American teams – with the notable exception of the Soviet Union in 1981 – I think this might finally be the year that another European power breaks through. Why not Finland? The country has quietly been rebuilding its program over the last decade, and this has culminated in two World Junior gold medals in the past three years. Some of the stars of those tournaments, such as Teuvo Teravainen, Rasmus Ristolainen, Sebastian Aho, and Patrik Laine, will now be representing the senior team in the World Cup. Other young talents, like Aleksander Barkov, have already made the leap. Although Finland is weakest on the blueline, it has strong depth in goal, with both Tuukka Rask and Pekka Rinne to call upon. They are also known for playing a style of hockey conducive to the North American-sized ice, finishing second and third in the 2004 World Cup and 2010 Olympics, respectively. The one thing that really concerns me, though, is the strength of competition in Group B. Russia, Team North America, and perennial rival Sweden are an eminently tougher and more evenly matched set of teams than Group A (with Canada, USA, the Czech Republic, and Team Europe). Of the Big 5 hockey nations, Finland is the only one that has not won a best-on-best tournament. Maybe 2016 is when it finally manages to do so.
Clearly Team Canada’s World Cup runneth over with grit and character so I’m not sure why this is even a question. I mean, it’s not like Team North America that’s all skill but no leadership or guys that know how to win stands a chance.
The safe choice is clearly the Canadians, as they are stacked from top-to-bottom, with stellar goaltending and the home fans on their side. With that in mind, I really like the North American team to give them a run for their money. Backed by hockey talents like Connor McDavid and Aaron Ekblad, this team really personifies the future of the NHL. It would be great to see a final between these two squads and have a best of 3 between the old guard and the new kids on the block. I think when all is said and done, Canada will still come out victorious, but I don’t think it’s going to be as much of a cake walk as people are suggesting going in.