With one day left for many countries to prepare for the upcoming IIHF World Championships, we have no doubt this event could see the lamp lit the most times in history. Usually World Championships teams either balance their rosters or make sure their defense is on point to fit the size of the European ice. This year it looks to be different, as lots of talented forwards will hit the ice with few exceptions, and teams have geared up to pass, shoot and score loads. Let’s take a look at a few possible line combinations that should lift the fans up from their seats as often as possible. I’ve often seen that the World Championships consists of weak hockey, but this time it may be close to the well-fought Olympic level.
A look at the Fire Power in the 2015 IIHF World Championships – Group B
Russia has the right assets to blow things up with not just one super line, but TWO. The first is the Russian version of shaking some NHL and KHL talent in a cup: Sergei Mozyakin, Evgeni Malkin and Nikolai Kulemin. During the lockout all of three played together for Metallurg Magnitagorsk and were one of the most outstanding lines in KHL history. Yes, it only existed for a short time (Malkin and Kulemin only played 37 and 36 games, respectively, before returning to the NHL), but 179 combined points is impressive even for three forwards of the professional level. This is a line that should be feared.
You want another great line for the Russians? Well then you take Ilya Kovalchuk, Artem Anisimov and Vladimir Tarasenko, the captain and two NHL regulars who can trash the scoreboard and turn the opposing goalie into a pile of ashes.
This team looks as good as ever, and based on the Belarusians that play in the KHL, it’s not too hard to find top shooters to carry their team. Sergei Kostitsyn and Andrei Kostitsyn are obviously top candidates to play big minutes for Belarus alongside Alexei Kaluzhny.
Team Denmark breeds the underdogs that know how to play the game, but they don’t have a really skilled offense. Patrick Bjorkstrand, Thomas Spelling, and Morten Green are the guys that could carry the team on their shoulders offensively.
The Finns are without a doubt one of the favorites to win Gold with the elite goaltending that netminder Pekka Rinne will bring and a talented defense core that will help the cause in their own zone. Up front, Aleksander Barkov, Leo Komarov and Tuomo Ruutu are the candidates to steal the offensive show for their national team.
Not having Mats Zuccarello is a big loss, but the underdog factor in their group gives them a chance to steal games they have no business stealing. Therefore, getting some offense is really needed. Expect Patrick Thoresen, Mathias Olimb and Anders Bastiansen to be the guys to score often.
An elite team that should be considered a contender for Gold, the Slovakian offense (as well as defense) is a huge factor that hasn’t been there for quite a while. But now they have all the pieces to say that this team finally has their faith on their own sticks. Marian Gaborik, Richard Panik and Tomas Kopecky are the guys that will take care of the offensive side of things, and no doubt they will have a ton of support from other forwards.
While they don’t have to worry about not having a top center thanks to Anze Kopitar, they have multiple options to fill out the top-six, so this is where a wild guess has to be taken. Kopitar could center Jan Mursak and Rok Ticar from the KHL.
The Americans keep being Americans, mixing up NHL players with college students, juniors, and minor league players. While their defensive core is mostly from the NHL, their offense is a huge mix. It’s a good thing they are focusing on defense but teams have to be worried as Jack Eichel will be playing his first ever World Championships and would be an asset to their top line alongside Mark Acrobello and Matt Hendricks.