Hockey fans can get their fix early this year, with the 8-team tournament kicking off Saturday.
By ERIC GOLDSTEIN Sept 14, 2016
Feel the chill in the air? OK, maybe not yet.
Either way, hockey season is right around the corner. Rookies report to the Flyers training camp on Monday, while veterans show up next Friday.
In the meantime, hockey fans get to feast on the World Cup of Hockey, an eight-team tournament full of stars, that drops the puck Saturday.
Let’s take a look at each team’s chance of bringing home the championship.
Need to know how ridiculously talented Canada’s roster is? Claude Giroux is on the fourth line. With the Flyers captain relegated to “checking line” duties, you can only imagine the potential of this lineup. Fresh off a gold medal at the 2014 Olympics at Sochi, captain Sidney Crosby and Co. are the favorites to be the last team standing. Anything less will be considered a disappointment.
Silver medal winners in Sochi, the Swedes are the Canada’s biggest challenge. Led by two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, they boast the best defense and one of the best goalies, Henrik Lundqvist. Plus, the offense is loaded with enough firepower to avenge their Olympic finals loss.
Coach John Tortorella’s biggest decision? Who to start in goal each game. He has to pick between studs Jonathan Quick, Ben Bishop and Cory Schneider. The trio is the sole reason the Americans have a shot at winning this thing after finishing a forgettable fourth at the Olympics.
In the Mix
Offense? Check. See Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Vladimir Tarasenko and reigning Rookie of the Year Artemi Panarin. Goaltending? Check. See Sergei Bobrovsky, Semyon Varlamov and Andrei Vasilevskiy. Defense? Not much. See the couple of players who played in the minors last season on the roster. Result? Muddled. The Russians have the potential to either win it all or exit early – just like they did on their own ice in Sochi.
Yes, the Fins are talented but they’re too young. More than half the roster is either 25 or under. They must ride Tuuka Rask, a former Vezina Trophy winner, and Pekka Rinne, a former Vezina finalist, to turn into a sleeper and advance to the elimination round.
Want to watch the future of the NHL? North America, which consists of players from the U.S. and Canada age 23 and under, is a Who’s Who of No. 1 draft picks and current or rising stars. Names like McDavid, Eichel, Gaudreau, Matthews, Ekblad and Gostisbehere, just to list a few, make up the roster and represent the league’s Next Generation. North America has the potential to surprise but likely lacks the experience to reach the finish line.
Here’s Your Participation Medal
Flyers forward Jakub Voracek has his hands full as one of the lone stars on an underwhelming roster. An upset in pool play would be a realistic goal.
Just try not to embarrass yourselves.