2019 Men’s World Championship: Wrapping Up the Preliminary Round
With the preliminary round concluding yesterday afternoon, we finally move onto the playoff round of the tournament. All of the Rangers representing their countries have moved through to the next round with the United States picking up fourth place in Group A, while Russia, the Czech Republic and Sweden all took home the top three spots in Group B.
The playoff round will commence on Thursday, followed by the Semifinals on Saturday, May 25. The full schedule for the playoff round can be found down below, and all of the games will be streamed on the IIHF’s YouTube page.
After picking up just one goal throughout the first three games of the tournament, Chris Kreider finally found his scoring touch to close out the schedule for the Americans. Kreider picked up his second goal of the tournament off of a beautiful centering feed from Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres, as Team USA defeated Great Britain 6-3 on May 15.
He also notched a similar goal in front of the net on Saturday against Denmark (gif below) to bring his total up to three goals in seven games.
After being acquired by the Rangers and signing his entry-level contract, Adam Fox hopped on board with the United States over in Slovakia. With Fox expected to compete and lock down one of the six spots on defense next season, the Rangers had a perfect opportunity to see what’s in store.
With plenty of other NHL veterans on the squad, though, Fox didn’t see a whole lot of action and was primarily paired with Vancouver Canucks youngster, Quinn Hughes. Fox picked up his lone assist on a great feed over to Dylan Larkin against France, and Patrick Kane tapped home the rebound in front of the net.
Throughout the preliminary round, Brady Skjei spent a majority of his time on a pair with Noah Hanifin of the Calgary Flames. In seven games played, Skjei picked up his only point with the opening goal against Finland on May 13. In addition to his goal, Skjei played 21:48 and was named the player of the game as the United States went on to defeat Finland 3-2 in overtime.
Jack Hughes had a quiet opening round in terms of overall production, but it’s no surprise given this is his first time up with the senior national team. Hughes picked up his first point of the tournament on a crisp cross-ice feed to Chris Kreider, who tapped home the puck against Denmark.
Even with just one point to his name, Hughes has still impressed given the amount of hockey he has played this year. After claiming bronze at the U18 World Championship, Hughes immediately jumped on a plane to join the United States at the Men’s World Championship in Slovakia nearly a week later. He averaged just over 11 minutes per game in the preliminary round, with his highest time on ice of the tournament coming in at 14:28 against France.
With the difficult season in New York behind Henrik Lundqvist, he’s already looking ahead and preparing for next season. When he joined Sweden for the World Championship, Lundqvist stated that it would be a perfect opportunity to fine-tune his game for the 2019-2020 season with the Rangers.
“The last time I went, it helped me prepare for the next season,” Lundqvist wrote. “I’d been planning to start skating in May to work on things, no matter what. This will be a more fun way for me to work on my game.”
Huge sequence of stops by Henrik Lundqvist. #NYR pic.twitter.com/MsEHmq3v3U— Alex Nunn (@aj_ranger) May 10, 2019
Thus far, Lundqvist has collected a total of four wins along with a 89.92 save percentage, and 2.42 goals-against average. With Sweden already clinching their spot in the playoff round, Lundqvist was designated to the backup role for Sweden’s final game against Russia.
Much like Jack Hughes, Filip Chytil hasn’t been soaking up a ton of minutes for the Czech Republic, and thus, only collected a lone point through seven games. That being said, Chytil is the youngest player on the Czech roster at the moment, and their veteran-heavy roster doesn’t necessarily bode well for his time on ice.
Despite the limited role, Chytil still found a way to impress with a great individual effort against Italy, and setup Dmitrij Jaskin to put the Czech’s up 5-0 in the second period.
Alexandar Georgiev wasn’t expected to see a lot of time in this tournament with Andrei Vasilevskiy carrying a majority of the workload. Throughout Russia’s seven games, Georgiev appeared in two games against Austria and Switzerland, and has yet to allow a goal on 46 shots against.
Aleksandar Georgiev gets over in a flash to stop Nico Hischier. pic.twitter.com/4xJGtGbnhw— Alex Nunn (@aj_ranger) May 19, 2019
The story of the tournament thus far has been the spectacular play of Kaapo Kakko, the projected second overall pick in this upcoming draft. If his recent dominance is a sign of things to come, the New York Rangers will have no problem with the New Jersey Devils taking Jack Hughes first overall. We’ve heard all about Kakko’s knack for driving the net, and that has been on display all throughout the preliminary round.
Kakko’s most memorable highlight of the Worlds came against Denmark, where he danced around around a defender, and tapped the puck past goaltender Sebastian Dahm. It was an unreal showcase of Kakko’s raw skill, and hopefully he’ll be able to add to his highlight reel in a darker shade of blue come next season.
Cheeky play from Kaapo Kakko. Not the first time he's tried this. pic.twitter.com/nSbE8VvIvw— Alex Nunn (@aj_ranger) May 17, 2019
- Canada vs Switzerland - Thur, May 23 at 10:00 AM
- Russia vs United States - Thur, May 23 at 10:00 AM
- Finland vs Sweden - Thur, May 23 at 2:00 PM
- Czech Republic vs Germany - Thur, May 23 at 2:00 PM/
- TBA vs TBA - Sat, May 25 at 9:00 AM - NHL Network
- TBA vs TBA - Sat, May 25 at 1:00 PM - NHL Network/
- Bronze Medal Game - TBA vs TBA - Sun, May 26 at 9:30 AM - NHL Network
- Gold Medal Game - TBA vs TBA - Sun, May 26 at 2:00 PM - NHL Network/
** All times listed above are in Eastern Standard Time (EDT)