World Championship Update: Quarterfinal Play Begins Thursday
The preliminary round of the 2013 World Championships has come to close as the eight remaining teams shift to Quarterfinal play beginning Friday morning. With the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs coming to a close, another wave of NHL talent has descended upon Finland and Sweden, ensuring the quarterfinals will be must-watch hockey.
Preds defenseman Roman Josi and the Swiss team continued to impress through pool play, going an impressive 7-0 in the preliminary round. The Swiss opened the tournament with surprise wins over perennial favorites Sweden and Canada, and followed with strong wins against the Czech Republic and Belarus. Josi posted a two-point outing (1g-1a) on Tuesday against Belarus, and is the highest scoring blueliner in the tournament with seven points (2g-5a) thus far. The top-seeded Swiss play the Czech Republic in the quarterfinal round on Thursday morning.
For the United States, the preliminary round was an up-and-down affair with wins over Austria, Latvia, Finland, France and Germany. The Americans dropped heartbreakers to Russia midway through the prelims and Slovakia in the final game, which bumped them to the third seed for the quarterfinals. Predators forward Craig Smith finds himself ranked second in team scoring and seventh among all skaters with seven points (3g-4a) in seven games. The Madison, Wis., native also found himself on the wrong end of a game misconduct penalty during Tuesday’s loss to Slovakia – missing the majority of the second period. Forward Bobby Butler has also had a solid tournament for the Americans, tallying four points (3g-1a) during pool play. Preds General Manager David Poile joined the team this past weekend and will remain in Europe for the balance of the tournament. The Americans face off against the Russians, who were recently joined by Alexander Ovechkin, on Thursday morning in the Helsinki quarterfinals.
Preds Head Coach Barry Trotz and the Canadian National Team, who went 7-1 in pool play after surviving a late scare from Slovenia, take on Sweden on Thursday afternoon in the quarterfinals.