Tomorrow marks the first game of the Final series of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Powerhouse Team Canada, behind playing in front of a Toronto and pro-Canadian crowd, are going to go into this one the favorite.
However, Team Europe made an incredibly unexpected journey. No, this team doesn’t encompass traditional powers across the pond such as Finland, Sweden, etc. Finland didn’t make it out of the group stage, and Sweden was thwarted an opportunity, losing in a thrilling overtime to this European team.
This is a team starting Jaroslav Halak, a netminder since entering the NHL during the 2008 season that’s made over 50 starts between the pipes in a regular season twice. Two of their defensemen are Dennis Seidenberg and Christian Ehrhoff. For hockey fans, they’re names that we’ve seen and heard for years and even as late into the season in June, but they aren’t even signed by NHL teams. For as much flack as this tournament has gotten, for these D-men, this tournament may have saved their NHL careers.
It’s a nice, surprising story, even though it isn’t complemented by more Team North America on the other side of the bracket. Damn, that was fun.
Team Canada is rolling and will probably continue to roll. Their top line of Brad Marchand, Sidney Crosby, and Patrice Bergeron are completely dominating all three zones of the ice. The team has too much firepower, and they have arguably the sport’s best goaltender in Carey Price.
This is a deep team with a mix of deep offensive talent and a strong defensive core and of course the goaltending. Canada will probably stifle the European offense and finally exploit the lack of depth on the back-end for Europe. As cliche as it sounds, Canada is one of those clubs that can flip the switch, and they’re more than happy to pay the electric bill for it.
However, Team Europe is playing with house money. They have some very good NHL players and a few guys having a career renaissance. They probably won’t win, but who’s to say they can’t thrive when all the pressure is on Canada in the hockey mecca of Toronto?