Denmark vs. Czech Republic
This game was essentially the battle to avoid the Group B basement, but unfortunately for the surprising Danes they gave up a pair of leads en route to a 3-2 overtime loss to the Czechs. Future Jacket Oliver Bjorkstrand scored his team's second goal to tie the game, giving him 2-1-3 in three games. Boston first rounder David Pastrnak scored on a beauty deke in OT to seal it for the Czechs, helping them move into fourth place in the Group. Boston fans should be very excited about this kid- he's the real deal. Huge props to Danish goalie Georg Sorensen, who made 44 saves in the loss. Denmark takes on the Swiss today, and with a win or overtime loss, coupled with a Czech regulation loss against Russia they can pass the Czechs, avoiding the relegation round. I'm fully supporting the Danes in this one, I'd love to see them earn a quarterfinal game.
USA vs. Slovakia
You have to give credit to Slovakia in this one, as they held the Americans to two goals for most of the game, eventually losing 3-0. Sonny Milano scored for the Americans on a tough-angled shot. Milano has looked more and more comfortable throughout the tournament, and is currently sitting with a pair of goals, and is tied for the team lead in shots on net with Jack Eichel and Alex Tuch, Speaking of Eichel, the team drafting him this year will be getting a truly sensational player, but you already knew that. He'd be the perfect fit with Arizona Coyotes, if you ask me. They haven't had a player to build around in what seems like an eternity. John Hayden scored late for the Americans. Here's a scary thought for fans of junior hockey- the Halifax Mooseheads, who won the Memorial Cup two seasons ago with Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Zach Fucale, and added Nikolaj Ehlers last year, owned the rights to both Eichel and Hayden. Of course the American stud prospects elected to go the college route, but just imagine if those two had reported. The Mooseheads would have been absolutely unstoppable.
Sweden vs. Russia
These two teams were battling for top spot in Group B, and this game's intensity reflected that. The Swedes came out on top 3-2, thanks to a third period goal by Alex Holmstrom. William Nylander was terrific again for Sweden. Russia closes out the preliminary round against the Czechs, looking to send them to the relegation round. Sweden has all but locked up top spot in Group B, and finishes the opening round against the Swiss.
Canada vs. Finland
Though the Canadian players and coaches may have downplayed it, this was a redemption game after Finland eliminated Canada at last year's tournament. This game was closer than the final score indicates, as for a bulk of the game the Finns held Canada to two goals, and scored one themselves- the first goal against for Canada. Sam Reinhart was a beast for Canada, potting a pair of goals. Buffalo was right to send him back to junior this year, as he is a budding star. CBJ pick Dillon Heatherington was solid again, seeing some powerplay time. What I'm seeing from him so far is a penchant for making the smart play, both with and without the puck. He'll never put up serious points, but he's steady as they get on the blueline. The Finns have disappointed this year, looking like no threat to repeat as champs. The close out the preliminary round against Germany, which should be a victory, giving them momentum heading into the quarters. Canada takes on the US on New Year's Eve, in a game which will decide the Group A winner. This game is always a classic.