2016 IIHF World Championship Playoff Preview

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The 2016 IIHF World Championship is currently taking place in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. The preliminary round of the tournament ended yesterday and the top four teams of Group A and Group B advanced to the playoff round, which will begin tomorrow. The teams that will participate in the playoff round are Czech Republic, Russia, Sweden, and Denmark from Group A, and Finland, Canada, Germany, and the United States from Group B.

The quarterfinals of the playoff round consist of the top team in one Group playing against the fourth best team in in the other group, and the second best team in one group playing against the third best team of the other group. The quarterfinal matches that will take place tomorrow will be:

2016 IIHF World Championship Playoff Preview

A1 Czech Republic vs. B4 United States

Thursday at 9 AM ET

The United States has had a very underwhelming performance at this year’s tournament. The bronze medal winners from last year lost four of their seven preliminary games, including losses to Germany and Slovakia. In their overtime loss to Slovakia on Tuesday, the United States was able to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals by earning one standings point. The young American team features young NHL players such as defenseman Noah Hanifin, forwards Frank Vatrano, Dylan Larkin, and Vincent Hinostroza. The United States will need a big game out goaltender Keith Kinkaid to compete with a talented Czech Republic team that finished at the top of Group A. The United States will have to figure out a way to beat Czech Republic goaltender Dominik Furch, who has a goals against average of 0.65 and a save percentage of .972 in seven tournament games played.

B1 Finland vs. A4 Denmark

Thursday at 9 AM ET

Currently the second-ranked team in the world, Finland defeated Canada, the top-ranked and gold medal-winning team from last year, by a score of 4-0 on Tuesday. Finland is led by NHL Draft prospect Patrik Laine, who has scored 10 points in seven games. The high powered Finland team will have a tough test ahead against Denmark goaltender Sebastian Dahm, who has a goals against average of 1.92 and a save percentage of 94.55% in seven tournament games played. The player to watch on Denmark is forward Niklas Jensen, who is tied for fourth in goals scored by a single player in the tournament with five.

A2 Russia vs. B3 Germany

Thursday at 1 PM ET

The Russians have three of the top four point scorers in the tournament in forwards Vadim Shipachyov (13 points), Artemi Panarin (12 points), and Evgeni Dadonov (9 points). The host country will play against the Germans, who have been the surprise of the tournament. The German team features goaltender Thomas Greiss, who joined the team after his NHL team, the New York Islanders, were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

B2 Canada vs. A3 Sweden

Thursday at 1 PM ET

The Canadians were on a roll before their last preliminary game against Finland. The defending gold medal winners are led by Derrick Brassard (9 points) and Taylor Hall, Matt Duchene, and Corey Perry (8 points each). Sweden is led by Gustav Nyquist, who has scored more goals than any other player in the tournament (7 goals in 7 games). Sweden goaltender Jacob Markstrom and company will have their hands full trying to contain the loaded Canadian roster.

The winner of the Czech Republic/USA game will play the winner of the Canada/Sweden game in one semifinal, and the winner of the Russia/Germany game will play the winner of the Finland/Denmark game in the other semifinal. The two semifinal games will take place on Saturday. The winner of each semifinal game will play each other for the gold on Sunday.

(All statistics courtesy of www.iihfworlds2016.com)

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