Some Closing Thoughts on the 2016 World Cup of Hockey

by | Oct 2, 2016 | Soapbox | 6 comments

Team Canada winning the 2016 World Cup of Hockey felt inevitable.

Team Canada winning the 2016 World Cup of Hockey felt inevitable.

– Team Canada’s tournament victory felt inevitable, though Team Europe did a fine job making the Canadians work for it in the best-of-three final. Team Canada simply had too much depth in top-flight talent that the other clubs simply couldn’t match.

– No surprise Team Canada captain Sidney Crosby was named tournament MVP. Not only did he lead all tournament scorers (10 points), he was also among the best two-way forwards. Coming off his Conn Smythe Trophy performance leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to the 2016 Stanley Cup, the 29-year-old Crosby demonstrated why he’s still the world’s top player.

– Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price’s performance with Team Canada should put to rest any lingering concern that he might be hampered by last season’s knee injury. He led all tournament starters in wins (5), goals-against average (1.40) and save percentage (.957). He was clutch in close games against Teams Russia and Europe.

– The most surprising performer for Team Canada was Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand, who scored the tournament-winning goal. Known as an agitating forward with a decent scoring touch, the 28-year-old Marchand proved that he belonged in the World Cup of Hockey. He led the tournament in goals (5) and proved to be a quality linemate with Crosby.

– While Team Canada’s victory in this tournament was expected, no one predicted Team Europe’s march to the final. This mashup of players from nine countries considered too small to ice competitive rosters for the World Cup were true underdogs. They came very close to pulling off a significant upset of the Canadians.

– New York Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak (Slovakia) played a significant part in Team Europe reaching the World Cup of Hockey final. He was also a big reason why the Canadians had such a difficult time dispatching the Europeans. Halak’s performance reminded everyone how well he can play when he’s healthy.

– Other standouts for the Europeans included forwards Anze Kopitar (Slovenia), Mats Zuccarello (Norway), Tomas Tatar (Slovakia) and center Leon Draisaitl (Germany), along with defensemen Roman Josi (Switzerland) and Zdeno Chara (Slovakia).

– Team Russia’s inability to defeat Team Canada once again cast a shadow over Russian superstar and Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin. Despite being one of the most dominant and entertaining scorers in NHL history, Ovechkin’s come up short in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Winter Olympics and now the World Cup of Hockey. Only in the World Championships has he played for a winner, earning gold in 2008, 2012 and 2014.

– Team USA had the dubious honor of being the most disappointing team in this tournament. Follow this link for a detailed look at why they failed so miserably, the changes required and their potentially bright future. 

– Team North America was unquestionably the most exciting and entertaining team of the tournament. Comprised of the best North American players 23-and-younger, they won over fans and pundits with their youthful energy and up-tempo offensive style. Their average defensive game, however, proved to be their Achilles heel.

– Team Sweden was considered among the favorites to reach the final, but they were bounced from the semifinal by Team Europe. With mainstays such as goalie Henrik Lundqvist and the Sedin twins now in their mid-thirties, and nagging injuries sidelining fellow 30-something Henrik Zetterberg, the Swedes could be heading into a transition period.

– Goaltending and strong defensive play have long been the hallmarks of Team Finland. Unfortunately, their lack of offensive punch was their undoing in the World Cup of Hockey. In three games, the Finns managed only one goal. Young Finnish forwards Aleksander Barkov, Patrik Laine, Sebastien Aho and Tuevo Teravainen failed to garner a point.

– Entering the round robin, the Czech Republic must have felt good about their chances. In pre-tournament play, they split two close games with the Russians and edged Team North America 3-2. Sadly, they came up short in the round robin. They got thumped 6-0 by Team Canada, dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to Team Europe and narrowly defeated Team USA 4-3 after both clubs had already been eliminated from advancing to the semis.







6 Comments

  1. Amazing how much buzz around the tournament died after TNA was eliminated. I wasn’t real excited about this event leading up to it, and I don’t think too many people were won over by it

    It was a nice little September distraction, but once NHL training camps started getting underway, I was more interested in how my NHL team was shaping up.

    Team USA essentially mailing this one in from day 1 really hurt the tournament. The NHL needed a rivalry or some drama, and between TNA getting bounced early, Russia not being up to snuff and USA tanking, there wasn’t many chances for drama.

    Europe beating Sweden was a massive upset, but by that point of the tournament, everyone had already crowned Canada and much of the interest had died off and people started turning to NHL camp headlines instead of the WHC.

    I really hope this doesn’t replace the Olympics, its just not the same. I’d imagine a lot of players feel the same way. All the young guys coming into the league have grown up with NHLers at the Olympics. I know the location of the next games is an issue, but still, I hope the players end up going.

    • Maybe they don’t go to South Korea but I’d be shocked at the stupidity of the NHL if they didn’t send players to China the following Olympics.

    • The `crowds`for those non-Canada or non-TNA games were telling. In a couple of them you could have fired a cannon off and not hit anyone.

    • I agree. And at least in the Olympics individual countries like Switzerland, Germany, Latvia etc. can get involved in the qualifying rounds. Like soccer where maybe 6 countries are at the top of the heap and dominate – much like hockey – but they don`t have tournaments where the non-top nations are forced to lump their players into geographical groupings. They also confine Olympic reps to 23 and under (or is it 21 and under?). Those two groupings of kids at the World Cup were more compelling to watch – so I hear – so why wouldn`t that work for the Olympics?

  2. I enjoyed it. I watched all Canada’s games, 2 of team NA’s, all the quarter, semi’s, finals & portions of other games as able, the quality of the hockey was exceptional. I like many struggled with the format, team Europe, team NA but have to say watching those kids was exciting & if not for team Europe who surprised me, we wouldn’t have seen those players either.

    It will take some time to build up a following. Once the US was eliminated the best marketing opportunity was lost. I hope the NHL does both. The Olympics; perhaps they skip Korea to prove a point to the IOC, & the World Cup. A world class event every 2 years.

    I would like to see the Swiss given a team & would probably retain team Europe to allow for stars from smaller nations to play, although not sure the NHL & NHLPA care about nations who has a large # of players not in the NHL. I don’t want to be deprived of Koptiar & I must admit seeing a few lesser players like Rieder, Draisaitl, Tatar, Zuccarello, etc. play against the best in the world was interesting. The play of this team was amazing. The were 2 mins & 59 seconds from beating Canada in game 2 of the final & out played them for significant stretches.

    Perhaps they stage qualifiers like for the WJC’s. Last team from pool A drops to pool B or some such thing or maybe drop to 6 teams. Regardless I want to watch the worlds best play each other more than once every 4 years.

    I really enjoyed it. When the WJC’s are played outside Canada no 1 attends, even in Canada attendance is still primarily driven by 2 or 3 teams otherwise those buildings are empty as well.

  3. Damn shame we didn’t see Canada Vs North America at all.