Friday, 28 December 2018

Canada Tops Division

Despite scoring today, Daniel Winnik looks all business on the ice as Canada was giving the business end of a 6-2 decision to the DEL's Nurnberg Ice Tigers. Canada has looked every bit like the favorite they've been called in this Spengler Cup tournament as they dispatched the host HC Davos on Wednesday in a physical game, and now they'll await the winner of the quarterfinal game tomorrow before taking the ice on Sunday to see if they can defend their Spengler Cup championship from one year ago.

It seems that every year that Canada does well, they get scoring from all over the lineup. This year's version is no different as seven different goal scorers have tallied markers on the eight total Canada goals thus far. Only Dante Fabbro has more than one goal in the tournament, and the Nashville Predators prospect has looked dangerous every time the puck is on his stick.

On top of that, Canada is getting elite goaltending compared to their opponents from perennial ECHL netminder Zach Fucale. It's encouraging to say that while Fucale was called on to make a number of key saves in their game against Davos, it seems the defence had really locked in on what they have to do in helping Fucale be successful. With names like Bieksa, Wiercioch, Depresm, and Quincey, the NHL experience of this Canada defence can't be overlooked.

With the 6-2 loss today, Nurnberg falls to 0-2 in the tournament and will occupy the third-place spot in the Cattini Division, meaning they will cross over to play the second-place team from the Torriani Division who will be the KHL's Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Davos, having posted a 1-1 record in the Cattini Division, will play the Czech Extraliga's HC Ocelari Trinec who finished 0-2 in their two games in the Torriani Division as the quarterfinal games are set.

HC Ocelari Trinec has to be disappointed with their efforts as they looked outclassed by the Finnish Liiga's Kuopio KalPa one day after dropping a shootout decision to Metallurg to open the tournament. The best team from the Czech Extraliga showed some good play in that game against Metallurg, but they looked sluggish on the second-half of the back-to-back games against KalPa. They'll need to play well against Davos if they hope to salvage this tournament as the hosts never take a game lightly, but it goes to show that no one is out even if they play a bad game in the round-robin.

I'm also curious to see if Metallurg will dress some of their stars who have sat for the two preliminary games thus far. Sergei Mozyakin has yet to dress, and I know there are people in the stands at Davos who want to see one of the KHL's living legends on the ice for the Russian squad. Goaltender Vasily Koshechkin has yet to dress as well, and the Russian Olympian likely would change how teams prepare for Magnitka. That being said, Artyom Zagidulin has played extremely well for Magnitogorsk, so perhaps the change is unnecessary as the team looks ahead to their KHL schedule which resumes on January 5.

As it stands, Canada will play next on Sunday against the winner between Nurnberg and Magnitogorsk while Kuopio KalPa awaits the winner between Trimec and Davos. TSN will carry all of these quarterfinal and semifinal games with the Spengler Cup Final going Monday morning at 7:10am CT.

Will Canada repeat as champions? Right now, it seems like they'd be the favorite if one was looking to place bets.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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