Some of the writers here on allislanders.com (David, Scott, Chris, and All Islanders) did a preview for seven of the eight teams (Team Finland was unintentionally not included) participating in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey and now we take a look back on how accurate our previews were.
I was assigned to write about the two teams in the tournament that weren’t actual countries, Team Europe and Team North America. We’ll start off with how I did on my Team Europe preview.
Strengths: I said that Team Europe’s strength was their goaltending and this was written even after Fredrick Andersen went down with injury. Was I correct? I’d say so. Jaroslav Halak did a fantastic job in net and helped Team Europe to the finals.
Weaknesses: I said that Team Europe’s weakness was their defense. Was I correct? No, not really. Something things that originally made me feel this way were that two of their defensemen (Seidenberg and Ehrhoff) were free agents and that their defense was just too old in general. Well now that it’s all over Dennis Seidenberg is a New York Islander, his strong play in the World Cup of Hockey had to do with it. In addition, Ehrhoff earned himself a PTO with the Boston Bruins. So what were their weakness? Their weakness didn’t come from within the team, it was another team, Team Canada. Aside from losing badly to Team North America twice in the pre-tournament, they won two of their three preliminary round games, only losing to Team Canada. They would then beat Team Sweden in the semi-final and then move onto the finals to once again face Team Canada who beat them 2-0 in a best of three series.
X-Factor: I said that Team Europe’s X-Factor would be former Islander Frans Nielsen for his play with and without the puck and his ability to play in any situation. Was I wrong? No, he was a big part to Team Europe’s success but I do believe there are better candidates. Tomas Tatar for one scored the overtime winner in the semi-finals and had three goals in six games throughout the tournament.
Team North America:
Strengths: I said that Team North America’s strength was their forward group. Was I correct? Yes, their forwards were very entertaining to watch and produced a lot of goals and scoring chances that couldn’t have been created by other teams.
Weaknesses: I said that Team North America’s weakness was their inexperience. Was I correct? No, as I kind of originally said, it didn’t really hold them back. Their weakness was probably that they tried to be too fancy. At times they would make an extra pass that wouldn’t need to be made and the play would be broken up.
X-Factor: I said that the defense had the ability to be the X-Factor. Was I correct? Not really. Their defense played but with the exception of Morgan Reilly, Colton Parayko, and Shayne Gostisbehere, none of them had any points. Also, it didn’t help that they lost Aaron Ekblad after their first game. So what was their X-Factor? It’s not what, it’s who, and it’s Auston Matthews. The 2016 first overall pick was the only player on the team to have never played in an NHL game but he finished the tournament tied for third in scoring for his team. Two goals and one assist in three games is impressive.
I wrote about Team Czech Republic, and I wasn’t positive about how they’d do in the tournament. Let’s take a look at how I did.
Team Czech Republic:
The Czechs didn’t do as well as they would’ve liked, but considering their injuries, they didn’t do too terrible. The defense held up, the forwards put some points on the board and the goaltending wasn’t terrible. However, when you’re going against the world’s best, average won’t cut it. I said the Czech’s strength was their centers, and I wasn’t necessarily wrong. The Czechs didn’t really have a strength; they survived with average play in all zones. The centers weren’t bad, but they weren’t great. The Czechs weakness was their defense, which is predicted. This wasn’t a hard prediction, as the unit was so weak on paper that no one really expected them to succeed. Here’s an excerpt from my original article:
Michal Kempny, Roman Polak, and Andrej Sustr headline the weakest d-unit in the tournament. Nothing against those three players, but none of them should be mentioned as a top defenseman when you’re going against the world’s best. The defensemen of this team just can’t be counted on to go against the plethora of forwards most teams have.
I predicted that the Czechs would be ousted in the first stage, which they were. The Czechs weren’t really a hard team to write about due to their injuries and weaknesses on paper; when you have so many problems you can write off a team when you’re facing the best in the world.
I was assigned to write about Team Russia and team USA. We’ll start off with how I did on my Team Russia preview.
Strengths: I said that Team Russia’s strength was their menacing offence. Was I right? Sort of. Their offense scored seven goals in three games, leading them to a 2-1-0 record, and scored three in the semis in their loss to Canada. I expected more goals from their dangerous offense, but what they did is good enough.
Weaknesses: I said that Team Russia’s weakness was their defense. Was I correct? Again, not really. They did allow ten goals over all four games, but I expected them to allow more.
X-Factor: I said that Team Europe’s X-Factor would be Artem Anisimov. Anisimov was subpar during the WCoH, and he didn’t look like his normal self.
Strengths: I said that Team USA’s strength was their goaltending. Was I right? No. They allowed 11 goals as they went 0-3-0. Disappointing.
Weaknesses: I said that Team USA’s weakness was lack of experience. Was I right? Yes. They lacked a real leader on the ice aside from their captain, Joe Pavelski.
X-Factor: I said that Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader was the x-factor of this team. Was I right? Partially. He was one of the brighter spots of Team USA, if you can even call it that.
I wrote about what Team Sweden and the eventual champions of the tournament, Team Canada would do. So let’s check that out.
Strengths: I originally said that their amazingly strong looking defense was their strength. And for the most part I was correct. They allowed 5 goals through 3 games, giving up 4 of those in a OT loss to North America. (Shut out Sweden, and won 2-1 against Russia). That was good enough for them to move onto the semi’s where they lost 3-2 to Team Europe in OT.
Weaknesses: I said for their weakness it was going to be their goalies that weren’t named Henrik Lundqvist. But I was totally wrong. Considering they only used Henrik Lundqvist.
X-Factor: I said their X-Factor was replacements. They had to replace key parts on their team. This part was weird. They had to replace a replacement in Rickard Rakell due to illness. And Hampus Lindholm didn’t even play. So you can say I was wrong.
Strengths: I said their strength was goaltending. They only gave up 3 goals through three round robin games with a 6-0 shutout against the Czechs. Then 5 through the semi’s and the 2 final games.
Weaknesses: I said their weakness was defense. I know their defense is the best in the world next to Sweden. In the end I was totally wrong as they only gave up 8 goals through 6 games.
X-Factor: I talked about how the other guys were the X-Factor. Guys like Tavares, Seguin, Marchand. I was right. Marchand totaled 8 points, Duchene got 4, so did Tavares and Couture, and Seguin didn’t play due to injury.