IIHF 2009 World Championship Preview
Total Pro Sports – Tomorrow is opening day of the 2009 IIHF World Hockey Championships in Berne/Zurich-Kloten, Switzerland. Russia is coming in as the defending champs after beating Canada on Canadian soil in overtime of the gold medal game last year. Can they do it again? Here’s a quick breakdown of how we see it going at TPS. For more information, schedules and rules, check out TSN.ca’s coverage.
Group A: Canada, Slovakia, Belarus, Hungary.
Group B: Russia, Switzerland, Germany, France
Group C: Sweden, USA, Latvia, Austria
Group D: Finland, Czech Republic, Norway, Denmark
Teams to watch:
Canada: Always a favorite in international play, this years edition of Team Canada showcases a lot of young talent on the back end and speed up front. Rookie phenoms Luke Schenn, Drew Doughty and Steve Stamkos will look to impress, but it will be the likes of Shea Weber and Dany Heatley that will be counted on to lead the Canadian to gold.
Russia: If this years team wants a shot at repeating, they will have to hope that Washington get eliminated in the first round and the likes of Semin, Federov, and of course Alex Ovechkin are willing to make the trip over to Switzerland and play for their country. If they are so lucky, they will still be a top team with Kovalchuk, Frolov and Radulov, but may not have enough after that.
Sweden: Not much support for the Swedes as many of their stars are still playing in the NHL playoffs and don’t look like they are leaving any time soom. That leaves a usually strong Swedish side in a tough position to medal at this years competition.
USA: The Americans bring a well rounded team to this years tournament, and especially looking for production from Dustin Brown and Jason Blake. Watch out for Boston U forward Colin Wilson. This Nashville Predator first round pick will likely be a star in his NHL career.
Czech Republic: There is not much to offer on this years edition. Relying on many players from European leagues, it is not likely they will compete for gold.
Finland: The Finns have seen better days, but they do have Rising young star Pekka Rinne in goal.
Switzerland: The Swiss may be this years surprise. They are capable of pulling off big upsets, as seen in the 2006 Olympics when they beat Canada.
After a strong run, the home side from Switzerland loses to the Americans in the final, while the Canadians get revenge in a tight game against the Russians.
In the Finals, the Americans and Canadians will face off in a tough matchup, but it will once again be decided in a one goal game, this time in favour of the USA, their 3rd every IIHF Gold Medal.