Tuesday, May 16, 2017

2017 IIHF World Championships Update

Today is the final day of the Preliminary Round of the 2017 IIHF World Championships, which are being held in both Paris, France and Cologne, Germany.

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In Group A at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, play began on Friday, May 5th with an important matchup between Russia and Finland, with the Chicago Blackhawks Artemi Panarin winning the game 2-1 for Russia in a shootout. In the opening day's second game, the host Germans upset the United States 2-1 in regulation, with the New York Islanders Thomas Greiss out dueling the Detroit Red Wings Jimmy Howard in the nets.

Day 2 saw three games, with Latvia shutting out Denmark 3-0 followed by Slovakia surrendering a point to Italy in a 3-2 overtime win. Sweden quickly brought Germany back to Earth with a 7-2 pasting.

May 7th began with Russia dominating Italy 10-1 while the United States got their first win 7-2 over Denmark while Latvia won again 3-1 over Slovakia.

Monday, May 8th had a pair of games on the schedule, with Russia winning 6-3 over Germany while the United States won an important game by defeating Sweden 4-3 after allowing two late goals to make it close.

Latvia stayed unbeaten with a 2-1 regulation win over Italy, while Slovakia continued to struggle, losing to Denmark 4-3 in a shootout.

Wednesday, May 10th saw the Americans shut out Italy 3-0 followed by the Germans winning their second game, this one 3-2 in a shootout over the clearly struggling Slovaks.

May 11th saw a pair of shutouts, as Russia blanked Denmark 3-0 while Sweden handed Latvia their first loss, 2-0.

Friday, May 12th saw Sweden take their turn to hammer Italy, this one 8-1, while Denmark won 3-2 in overtime against Germany as the teams split the points.

A busy Saturday saw three games, with the United States outlasting Latvia 5-3, Russia embarrassing Slovakia 6-0 and Germany taking care of business with a 4-1 win over Italy.

Sunday the 14th of May saw the United States win their fifth game in a row after their opening day loss, this one 6-1 over the disappointing Slovaks, who now have just 4 points in the standings from 6 games played, with their opening day overtime win over Italy and shootout losses to both Denmark and Germany giving them their only points. Sweden won the late game with a 4-2 win over the Danes.

Games yesterday saw Denmark ensure their survival and at the same time doom Italy to relegation with a 2-0 shutout over the Italians. Russia then reclaimed the top spot in the group with a 5-0 walk over Latvia.

That sets up today's three games, the first of which is Sweden versus Slovakia, as an expected Swedish win would give them 16 points and put pressure on the Americans, who enter the day with 15 points in second place, who must surely be regretting the 3 points they lost to Germany on the opening day.

The second game will decide the group winner, as the Russians, 5 regulation wins and one overtime win for 17 points, take on the United States, who are 5-1 for 15 points. With 3 points to the winner, the US must win in regulation to leap over the Russians, as any game that makes it to overtime, win or lose, gives the Russians a point and puts them out of reach of the United States.

The final game will be a must-see affair with the Latvians, backed by their rabid fans taking on the host Germans in a winner-take-all game for the final playoff spot, as both teams are currently tied with 9 points. Look for this one to go to overtime for added drama.

With Italy relegated, Slovakia has survived for 2018, as does Denmark, while one of Germany or Latvia will not advance to the Playoff Round.

Group B in Paris, meanwhile, began with Finland having a harder than expected time in a narrow 3-2 win over Belarus. Canada met the challenge of the Czech Republic with a 4-1 win.

May 6th saw Switzerland prevail 5-4 in a shootout over Slovenia, while the Czechs bounced back with a 6-1 win over Belarus while Norway defeated the hosts France 3-2 in regulation.

Three more games were in store on Sunday, May 7th as Canada won easily 7-2 over Slovenia before France pulled off their shocking 5-1 win over Finland. Switzerland then shut out Norway 3-0.

The next five weekdays saw two games per day, with Canada winning 6-0 over Belarus followed by the Czechs adding to the Finns woes with a 4-3 shootout win.

Tuesday, May 9th saw Norway easily beat Slovenia 5-1 while France won again, this time 4-3 over Switzerland in a shootout for a useful 2 points.

The Swiss rebounded on Wednesday with a 3-0 blanking of Belarus while Finland got back on track with a 5-2 defeat of Slovenia.

Thursday's action saw Norway hold off the Czechs for 60 minutes until Jan Kovar won it for the Czech Republic with a goal at 1:25 of overtime. An inspired French side then gave Canada all they could handle before falling 3-2 after leading 2-1 at one point.

May the 12th saw the Czechs keep racking up points with a 5-1 win over winless Slovenia and France come through with a 4-3 shootout win over Belarus, much to the delight of the partisan Parisian fans.

Saturday May 13th saw three games, with Finland requiring overtime to get past Norway 3-2 followed by Belarus doing their survival hopes a huge favor by defeating Slovenia 5-2. In the final game of the day, Switzerland pulled off an upset to spoil Canada's perfect record with a 3-2 overtime win after trailing 2-0 after two periods.

Sunday's double header began with a 5-2 Czech win over France before the struggling Finns needed overtime to beat Switzerland 3-2.

Yesterday, Canada assured itself of the top place in Group B with a 5-0 victory over Norway. France then doomed Slovenia to Division I Group A for 2018 with a 4-1 win against Slovenia.

Today's games begin with Belarus vs. Norway in the final game for both teams, as neither team can qualify for the Playoff Round. The second game sees the Czechs and Swiss fight it out for second place, with the Czechs currently ahead by a point in the standings. The final game pairs the Canadians against the Finns, with Finland looking to move up to third place and a more favorable matchup in their first Playoff Round game, as they are assured to advance.

France, Norway and Belarus are all now assured of returning to the World Championships in 2018 with confirmation of winless Slovenia's relegation.

In the United States, the Sweden vs. Slovakia game will air at 6 AM Eastern on the NHL Network, followed by the United States vs. Russia Group A showdown at 10 AM on the NBC Sports Network with the Canada vs. Finland game at 12 noon on the NHL Network.

After a day off on Wednesday, the top four teams in each group will begin the Playoff Round with the Quarterfinals on Thursday with the teams all meeting in Cologne for the Semifinals on Saturday and the bronze and gold medal games on Sunday.

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