WCOH GAME 1: TEAM CANADA VS. CZECH REPUBLIC

It is time for the hockey! And tonight, we get to see Team Canada—the favourite entering the World Cup of Hockey—against the Czech Republic. Sidney Crosby leads his team into a three-week battle that should result in another victory for the land of ice and snow—and they can do it before the snow flies. 

GAME TIME

  • Team Czech Republic vs. Team Canada, 6 p.m. Edmonton time, SportsNet, ESPNEWS, TVA Sports

THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW!

    • Cool new things will pop up on your screen!
    • Player jerseys and pucks will be fitted with tracking devices that will tell us how far a skater travels over the course of an entire game, what the precise gap between a defender and attacker is and the exact speed of a twine-bending shot.
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    This is a big damned deal. We are on the edge of a new tomorrow with these tracking devices (thank God they didn’t have these puppies when we were young, amirite?) and should get fantastic information throughout this series. Puck possession, gaps allowed by specific blue, Ovie’s shot. Goodness!

    • Stats! There is a stats site for the tournament!
    • Canada had some impressive performances during the exhibition games, with Drew Doughty (1-3-4) leading defensemen and John Tavares scoring three goals. Tomas Plekanec also had three markers for the Czechs with Michal Kempny (1-2-3) chipping in from the blueline.
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    Every team here boasts some outstanding offensive talent, but if I had to guess a scoring champion it would probably be Sidney Crosby—with Patrick Kane, Connor McDavid and Johnny Gaudreau also in the mix. This is going to be a sprint to the finish from the opening whistle.

    • World Cup Rankings!
    • Scott Cullen posted rankings before the tournament and this is an interesting read. Very thorough and some surprising conclusions, but Cullen knows his stuff.
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    Canada is ranked No. 1 but there are some issues. The defense hasn’t come together quickly and Carey Price—while brilliant—has been a little inconsistent in the net. The Czech Republic is ranked No. 7 and most observers appear to believe they are an ‘also in photo’ in this tournament.

    THE ROSTERS AND LINEUPS

    team czechteam canada roster

    QUICK HITS

    • Team Canada misses Duncan Keith, and that could have major impact on this tournament. I thought Jake Muzzin could play a substantial role—and still believe it—but chemistry is a funny thing and it takes time. In the meantime, we may see some righty-righty pairing minutes by Team Canada.
    • Ryan O’Reilly is the latest addition to the roster, some upset from various fanbases but he is a terrific player with a wide range of skills. I expect he will have a story to tell before we are finished this tournament.
    • Sidney Crosby is going to play a lot, and Patrice Bergeron will too. Jonathan Toews will get his minutes, as will Getzlaf. Team Canada could rest all three men and still ice a stunning group of centremen.
    • Carey Price is the best goalie in this competition, if healthy and without rust. If Canada wins, there is a very good chance he is the tournament MVP.
    • Michal Kempny is a good player. Signed by Chicago (of course), there appears to be a player here.
    • Jakub Voracek looks like he is very invested in this tournament, wonder if he has a recovery season for Philadelphia.
    • Czech are a good team, but who is their best player? Seems to me we could have five different answers to that question. I will say their young group looks substantial.

    WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

    • Team Czech forward Michael Frolik: ‘I think we’ve got four pretty good lines. We don’t have just one big line.’
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    • Sidney Crosby: “I feel like every time you put on a Team Canada jersey, you’re representing your country, there’s a lot of pride that comes with that.” 
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    • Line Watch: Team Canada continued to tinker with its lines Friday at practice; Steven Stamkos and Corey Perry swapped right-wing spots in a move that coach Mike Babcock said might not stick. Stamkos skated with John Tavares and Ryan Getzlaf while Perry was with Logan Couture and Jonathan Toews. The coaching staff has been trying to find a good fit for Stamkos, who has bounced around a few lines.
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    • (Claude Giroux is not scheduled to play).

    GAME DAY PREDICTION

    GAME DAY PREDICTION: Canada wins this one going away, final 4-2.

    OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Sidney Crosby is dangerous from mid-anthem through the final whistle and that Crosby-Bergeron line gains some fame.

    NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Canadian defense makes enough questionable plays for national concern, with calls for Jake Muzzin to have an increased role heard from the cheap seats.