Date: September 22, 2016

Team USA ends disappointing World Cup with loss to Czechs

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The United States wrapped up a disappointing, win less performance at the World Cup of Hockey with a 4-3 loss to the Czech Republic on Thursday night.

Previous losses to Team Europe and Canada eliminated the U.S. from contention, and its round-robin finale had no meaning for either team. With an 0-3-0 record and a minus-6 goal differential, the U.S. finished seventh among eight teams, ahead of only Finland.

Joe Pavelski, Justin Abdelkader and Ryan McDonagh scored for the U.S., which did not unravel in a meaningless game like it did in the 2014 Olympic bronze medal game. Ben Bishop allowed four goals on 20 shots in two periods, and Cory Schenider made seven saves in relief.

Petr Mrazek stopped 36 of the 39 shots he faced to backstop the Czech Republic to its first victory. Milan Michalek scored twice and Zbynek Michalek and Andrej Sustr each had a goal.

U.S. players promised they wouldn’t mail it in with nothing to play for. A result of human nature, it felt like an all-star game with a lack of real physicality as everyone wanted to get through without getting injured.

Frustration boiled over for Dustin Byfuglien at the final buzzer as he went after Czech defenceman Michal Jordan.

A collection of fans spent stretches of the first period chanting, “Let’s go Kessel!” and “We want Kessel!” Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel was left off the U.S. team and made light of that on Twitter on Tuesday night after the Americans lost to Canada.

That was a must-win game for the U.S. after opening the tournament with what Patrick Kane called a “dud” against Europe. General manager Dean Lombardi blamed not being prepared for that game for the U.S. bowing out of the World Cup.

“I don’t think we showed enough respect for the talent on that team,” Lombardi said Thursday morning.

Lombardi said that the 3-0 loss to Europe put the U.S. behind the “proverbial 8-ball” that felt like a boulder. The Los Angeles Kings GM has seen his team come back from a 3-0 playoff deficit but described the locker room after losing to Europe as tight, and the U.S. was never able to adequately respond.

Getting almost skated out of the rink by Canada wasn’t entirely unexpected, but players acknowledged their recipe to move on was to beat Europe and the Czech Republic. They didn’t do either, and USA Hockey faces plenty of questions about how it will bounce back for the 2018 Olympics.

That’s if NHL players even participate, or the U.S. might have to wait until the next World Cup, which will make it a long four years.

Russia beats Finland to advance to semis, North America out

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Vladimir Tarasenko and Ivan Telegin scored 1:19 apart in the second period and Russia beat Finland 3-0 on Thursday to set up a World Cup of Hockey semifinal against Canada — and knock out Team North America.

“The opportunity is huge,” Russian captain Alex Ovechkin said about facing Canada. “They have a pretty good team with solid players. We just have to match it. …

“I play Olympic Games in (Canada) and everybody is going to be crazy. The atmosphere’s going to be unbelievable. It’s going to be a great match to play, to be involved in, to be in the stands and be able to watch.”

Evgeni Malkin scored in the third period for Russia (2-1-0), and Sergei Bobrovsky made 21 saves .
“It’s going to be a great, great challenge and we accept it,” Russian forward Evgeny Kuznetsov said.

Tuukka Rask made 19 saves for Finland (0-3-3). Finland was winless for the first time in a senior tournament, scoring only one goal in three games.

“We had a good chance to succeed here, but you don’t score, you can’t win,” Finnish coach Lauri Marjamaki said. “We have to keep going and maybe analyze a little bit later. Just now, a little bit disappointing.”

Russian forward Pavel Datsyuk missed the preliminary round finale because of a minor injury.

“A loss for us, but we did well today,” Russian coach Oleg Znarok said.

Russia will face Canada on Saturday night. In the other semifinal, Sweden will play Team Europe on Sunday.

Finland nearly opened the scoring early in the second period when Mikael Granlund beat Bobrovsky glove-side, but rang a shot off the post.

Tarasenko finished off a give-and-go with Ovechkin for his second goal of the tournament at 3:42 of the second period.

Telegin picked up Vadim Shipachev’s feed and powered around Rask for his first of the tournament at 5:01 of the second.

Malkin scored his first of the tournament at 3:39 of the third period.

Tarasenko played on the Russian team that beat Canada to win the 2011 world junior title in Buffalo, New York.

“I think this is one of the greatest rivalries ever: Canada against Russia,” Tarasenko said. “We know how they play because we play in Pittsburgh before. They have a really good team, good players, (the) best players in the world so we need to be good in a couple days.”

How We Play Hockey in Switzerland

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By The Players Tribune