Alex Ovechkin (Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Author: The Hockey News
Alex Ovechkin to KHL would be blessing in disguise for Capitals
By: Adam Proteau
May 29, 2014
At first blush, the idea of Alex Ovechkin leaving the NHL to go play in the Kontinental League seems screwy. Unfortunately, after nine NHL seasons, Ovechkin has failed to live up to expectations – if not as an individual, then certainly as the driver of a team. And to Adam Proteau, a Russian return seems like the best solution for the star and the Capitals.
At first blush, the idea of Alex Ovechkin leaving the NHL to go home to his native Russia and play in the Kontinental League seems screwy. Unfortunately, after nine NHL seasons, Ovechkin has failed to live up to expectations – if not as an individual, then certainly as the driver of a team.
His Washington Capitals are awash in mediocrity and have moved from being a bona fide Cup contender to a draft lottery candidate. He won his second consecutive Rocket Richard Trophy, but had the NHL’s third-worst plus-minus (minus-35). Where once he was the Hockey Elvis, he’s now the King in his unhappy later years, surviving on what he’s always been good at, but never growing as an artist.
So now when you wonder if Ovechkin could actually leave the NHL for the KHL, the question doesn’t seem far-fetched at all. Increasingly, it’s near-fetched. And to this writer, it seems like the best solution for the star and the Capitals.
Of course, should Ovechkin decide to change leagues, he’d need to be extremely careful lest he come off looking like an even bigger villain than Ilya Kovalchuk did when he abruptly abandoned the New Jersey Devils last summer. There would be a sizeable contingent of mortified Washington fans no matter what Ovechkin said to explain himself, but life is all about framing and this situation would be no different.
Here’s how he should frame it: by pointing to other teams that have parted ways with their franchise player and discovered the devil they knew wasn’t always better than the one they didn’t. Take the Blue Jackets, for example. There was no shortage of angst-ridden Columbus fans when management traded their franchise cornerstone, Rick Nash, to the Rangers in the summer of 2012. That transaction benefitted the Jackets as much as it did Nash (who no longer had the full weight of an organization sitting on his shoulders). It was a classic short-term-pain-for-long-term-gain scenario.
Ovechkin leaving for the KHL would free up some $9.5 million in salary cap space for the seven years remaining on his contract. As we should know by now, that space would allow Caps management to acquire two or three high-quality talents and add balance to a roster that desperately needs it. Ovechkin could paint himself as making a sacrifice for the long-term good of the franchise.
There is some question whether the NHL would provide cap relief to the Capitals if Ovechkin returned to Russia, but the league would have an extremely tough time justifying a rejection of cap relief for one team after providing it to the Devils. As well, KHL president Alexander Medvedev recently gave an interview with Russian publication championat.com in which he said, “there is a legal way for any player if he decides to play in another league (to do so) without breaking the mutual (KHL/NHL) agreement to respect each other’s contracts.” Clearly, it’s technically possible.
Most importantly, how would leaving the NHL be good for Ovechkin? For one thing, he’d be in his own element as the biggest star ever to skate in the KHL. He wouldn’t be reminded every day of his inability to claim Cups in Washington, and he’d also have the chance of returning to North America if and when the opportunity was right.
He’s still just 28. He’s got time.
A vision quest is a trip an individual takes back to nature to focus on his identity and solidify his future. In essence, that’s what Ovechkin would be doing by going back to Russia. If he wants to, the last thing the Caps should be doing is persuading him otherwise.
This article originally appeared in the May 26 edition of The Hockey News magazine. Get in-depth features like this one, and much more, by subscribing now.
The Avalanche have a new coach and some skilled young forwards, but they don't have the depth to compete in the extra tough Central Division.
THN is rolling out its 2016-17 Team Previews daily, in reverse order of 2015-16 overall finish, until the start of the season. Today, the Avalanche.
THN's Prediction: 7th in Central
Stanley Cup odds: 75-1
Key additions: Joe Colborne, F; Fedor Tyutin, D; Rocco Grimaldi, C; Patrick Wiercioch, D
Key departures: Mikkel Boedker, LW; Shawn Matthias, LW; Nick Holden, D; Reto Berra, G; Brad Stuart, D
-Is Mikko Rantanen ready to rock? The Avs drafted Rantanen 10th overall in 2015, and he was a consensus pick to go directly to the NHL. Even at 18, he was 6-foot-4, 211 pounds and had several years of pro experience in the Finnish League. But Rantanen’s nine-game trial flopped, and Colorado assigned him to AHL San Antonio to avoid burning a year of his entry-level deal.
Rantanen racked up 24 goals and 60 points in 52 games and was the circuit’s co-rookie of the year. He has more than earned a full-season look in the NHL and will challenge for the Calder Trophy playing on a scoring line in Colorado.
-Has Colorado improved its 'D' enough? Per corsica.hockey, the Avs finished last in the NHL in score- and venue-adjusted Corsi against per 60 at a pitiful 63.42 percent. They’ve ranked between 24th and 30th four straight years. They allow far too many scoring chances.
The Avs acquired Patrick Wiercioch and Fedor Tyutin for veteran blueline help. They added Nolan Pratt from AHL champion Lake Erie to coach the D-corps. Will these changes be enough? Don’t bet on it. Wiercioch and Tyutin are bottom-pair types. Youngsters Chris Bigras and Nikita Zadorov haven’t shown they’re ready to contribute as impact NHLers yet. The blueline still looks thin after Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie and Francois Beauchemin.
-When does Joe Sakic blow it up? With Patrick Roy stepping down in August, this team has a new look on the coaching side. But what about player personnel? Should Colorado fall flat again, Nathan MacKinnon and his seven-year contract extension would be the only safe body in Denver. Matt Duchene has been the subject of trade rumors, as has captain Gabriel Landeskog.
Player projections are based off a three-year version of Game Score (which you can read about here) weighted by recency and repeatability and then translated to its approximate win value (Game Score Value Added or GSVA). Team strength was derived from the combined value of every player’s GSVA on a team. The season was then simulated 10,000 times factoring in team strength, opponent strength and rest.
The Colorado Avalanche are going to be one of the most interesting teams to watch this season, mostly because of the change behind the bench. After a surprising first season under Patrick Roy, the team hasn’t been able to find the same magic under a mostly similar roster. Many observers have felt Roy was holding the team, and its young stars, back and new blood could unleash their shackles.
At forward the Avalanche have the big three – Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene – who still have some room to grow. MacKinnon is still just 21 and this season has breakout campaign written all over it. The other two are solid first liners, but need to find another gear in order for this team to take the next step. That means spending more time in the other team’s zone which is hopefully something that improves under new coaching.
The issue with the Avalanche isn’t those three, it’s the guys below them. Carl Soderberg is solid, but after him the team is incredibly weak. Mikko Rantanen and Mikhail Grigorenko should be better than projected here though as they're still in the developing stages of their career.
Defence should be another place of interest as the team bolstered their bottom pairs with a slew of additions. At the top, the time-on-ice dynamic should change this season with a bigger focus on moving the puck up ice. That means more minutes going to Tyson Barrie and Erik Johnson as opposed to the older and less capable Francois Beauchemin.
Goaltending is the team’s strongest position as both Semyon Varlamov and Calvin Pickard rate extremely well. Varlamov had an off year last season and if he can’t bounce back, Pickard is ready to take over.
As has been the case over the last few seasons, the Avs are just not a very good team leaving them at the bottom of the pecking order in a very tough Central. Maybe they surprise with a new coach, but don’t bet on it as the roster still looks thin.
Corey Perry has rare chance to join Niedermayer in hockey history
By: Ken Campbell
Sep 23, 2016
Winning seems to follow Corey Perry around and if Canada can take home the World Cup championship, he'll join a very exclusive group.
In case you’re wondering, Corey Perry keeps all his championship rings and gold medals locked in a safety deposit box. It must be a really, really big one. “I don’t travel with them,” Perry deadpanned as Team Canada prepared for its semifinal game against Russia in the World Cup of Hockey. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with them. We’ll figure something out when I’m done playing.”
Perry has not only a chance to add another bauble to his collection, but he also has an opportunity to join a miniscule group of players when it comes to winning championships. Miniscule, as in one. In all of the history of the game, only Scott Niedermayer has won a Stanley Cup, Olympic gold medal, World Championship, World Junior Championship, Memorial Cup and Canada/World Cup title. Perry can join him if Team Canada can win three more games in the tournament. Perhaps he and Niedermayer, a former teammate with the Anaheim Ducks and a special assignment coach with the Ducks, can compare their hardware when he returns to Anaheim.
Like Niedermayer, winning follows Perry around. And like Niedermayer, Perry has been a huge part of the championship teams on which he’s played. When asked if there are any similarities between the two, Perry’s Anaheim teammate Ryan Getzlaf cracked, “Yeah, they skate the same.”
He was joking. Niedermayer is one of the smoothest, most effortless and efficient skaters the game has ever seen. Perry, on the other hand, skates as though he’s on a personal mission to do as much damage to the ice as possible. But the results are undeniable. It all started for Perry in 2005 when he barely made Canada’s WJC team during the NHL lockout and scored seven points to help Canada win the title. Later that season, after scoring 130 points for the London Knights, he added another 38 in 18 playoff games to lead the Knights to the Memorial Cup. Two years later he contributed to the only Stanley Cup he has won in his career. He then won gold medals with Canada both in Vancouver in 2010 and in Sochi in 2014 before becoming the 27th member of the Triple Gold Club (Stanley Cup, Olympic gold and World Championship) when Canada won the world title last spring.
Perry is well aware that he’s on the cusp of history. Not surprisingly, he hasn’t given it a lot of thought. “Obviously, I’ve heard about it and I kind of know what’s at stake,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s just a matter of going out and playing hockey. I don’t worry about it. You don’t know if it could ever happen again, but I just go out and let the chips fall. It would be a tremendous honor for sure and it speaks volumes of the teams that I played for and guys I played with.”
It also speaks volumes of his contribution to those teams. Playing on what is essentially the third line on the left side of Jonathan Toews and Logan Couture, Perry has a goal in the tournament, mostly because he hasn’t been getting many looks. He has just six shots in the tournament, while Toews has 10 and leads Canada in scoring with three goals and an assist. The best thing about this for Perry is that he was not initially part of the group that was named to play in the World Cup and was added to the team when Jeff Carter had to pull out with an injury. But Hockey Canada knows what Perry is all about and appreciates how he has always answered the call for his country, so it was a pretty easy decision for both sides.
“The times I went (to the World Championship in 2010, 2012 and 2016), the season kind of ended abruptly and I wasn’t planning on sitting back and relaxing for another month or so,” Perry said. “It’s a great time and anytime you get a call, if you can go, I go and I want to be a part of that team.”
What Perry is on the cusp of accomplishing is something rather special. Sidney Crosby, who has won everything but a Memorial Cup, lost to Perry’s Knights in the final in 2005. Wayne Gretzky hasn’t done it. Nor has Mario Lemieux, nor Team Canada teammates Toews or Patrice Bergeron. They've all come close, but none of them has a safety deposit box with quite as much variety as Perry.
“It’s important to have winners, period,” said Team Canada coach Mike Babcock. “If you look at our group, we have a lot of determined people that have been in a lot of good situations and have learned how to win and expect to win. And in the big moments in your life, the best of the best deliver and they think they’re going to deliver. They don’t know why, but in their heart and in their mind they know they’re going to do it.”
Author: (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
The 10 most overvalued fantasy players for 2016-17
By Matt Larkin
Sep 13, 2016
Which players will cost a pretty penny at the draft table and burn you with subpar production relative to expectations? Matt Larkin identifies 10 to avoid.
Picking sleepers is one of the most exciting aspects of fantasy hockey drafts. It makes us look smart. That's why I've offered up my favorite 10 for 2016-17 here. But as much as we like to think finding those late-round gems puts us over the top to win championships, something else matters much more: avoiding mistakes in the early to mid rounds.
And a "mistake" doesn't always mean picking a bust player who has a terrible season or gets injured. It can also mean taking a perfectly decent player way too early when many more effective guys are still available. I define overvalued fantasy picks as some combination of:
Players whose production won't match their average draft positions
Players being drafted ahead of players who will outperform them
Players with falsely inflated value because of real-life success, playing in popular markets or other emotional attachments
So here are my top 10 players to avoid in 2016-17 based on Yahoo average draft position (ADP) compared to my top 200 rankings, listed alphabetically. And remember, I'm not saying these players are bad…only that they are being drafted too early.
We have a bunch of Dean Lombardis at the fantasy draft table, apparently. It's no disrespect to Abdelkader, a scrappy and useful winger who can play on any line, but he's not a high-end scorer. He's 29, and his career highs in goals and points are 23 and 44, respectively. He's not getting any better than this. Even though he gets a boost in penalty minutes leagues, it's laughable to see him being drafted ahead of William Nylander, Sam Reinhart and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in typical leagues.
Sergei Bobrovsky (THN rank: 200; Yahoo ADP: 139.2)
Some poolies cling to the idea of 'Bob' as a Vezina Trophy-winning world beater. He's a talented goaltender…when he plays. The soft-tissue injuries have become a yearly headache. Instead of taking on the Bobrovsky problem, why not grab the dirt-cheap and durable Cam Talbot, who goes 17 picks later on average?
Matt Murray (THN rank: 144; Yahoo ADP: 69.7)
This one stings, as I'm a huge Matt Murray backer. Have been for years, so much that I'm teased for my man-crush in the THN office. Listing Murray here has nothing to do with his talent, which is immense. It has everything to do with Marc-Andre Fleury. Murray is likely locked in a timeshare at best until Penguins GM Jim Rutherford trades Fleury, and no deal is imminent. Murray's Stanley Cup heroics have inflated his ranking to the point he's being drafted ahead of actual starters like Brian Elliott and Semyon Varlamov. That shouldn't be happening. It's a different story in keeper leagues, of course.
James Neal (THN rank: 116; Yahoo ADP: 37.7)
James Neal, top-40 fantasy player? Sheesh, that's steep. He's currently valued as if he's still ripping off 40-goal seasons like he did in his Pittsburgh days. Neal's fresh off a highly useful effort of 31 goals, 58 points and 65 penalty minutes. But it's just plain strange to see him picked in the fourth round on average, ahead of Blake Wheeler, the league's No. 6 scorer, and Jack Eichel, whose floor might be Neal's ceiling. Get a grip, drafters.
Jonathan Quick (THN rank: 53: Yahoo ADP: 18.6)
Quick's legendary playoff prowess puffs up his fantasy value every season. I concede he's valuable in pools weighting wins heavily, but he's finished 34th, 22nd, 17th and 19th in save percentage over his past four seasons. His rate stats are merely average. It's thus odd to see Quick the fourth goalie off the board, before Cory Schneider, Corey Crawford and Henrik Lundqvist.
Pekka Rinne (THN rank: 122; Yahoo ADP: 34.6)
Rinne is one of the most athletic goaltenders in the NHL, blessed with a lightning-quick glove hand, honed by playing a form of Finnish baseball. He's a fun guy to interview. Other goaltenders I've spoken to consider Rinne one of the best in the business. But it's harder every year to justify that status. The numbers just don't support it. Rinne has posted a save percentage of .910 or lower three times in his past four seasons, he turns 34 in November, and he's become the analytics crowd's whipping boy. Apparently, the stats get ugly if you look under the hood, as our guru Dom Luszczyszyn did last season. Like Quick, however, Rinne will still get enough starts to carry substantial worth in leagues that focus on volume stats like wins and shutouts. He's quite overvalued in rate-stat leagues, though.
Patrick Sharp (THN rank: 173: Yahoo ADP: 79.5)
Sharp going in the middle of the sixth round? Huh? He scored 34 goals in 82 games with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013-14. Since then he has 36 goals in 144 games. There's no shame in it, as Sharp is simply in decline at 34, but he's now just a safe depth guy you grab in the late middle rounds to fill out your roster. He's still being drafted as a core player, ahead of Brandon Saad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Andrew Ladd, Tyler Toffoli, Jordan Eberle and Jakub Voracek. I don't know who the poolies are making these shameful picks, but I want in their leagues and I want to play them for money.
Andrew Shaw (THN rank: none; Yahoo ADP: 147.6)
Shaw, like Abdelkader, is admired in real life for his versatility and tenacity. But just because you're a fun player to own doesn't mean you're a good player to own in all but the deepest of leagues. Shaw will top out at 15 to 20 goals and 35 to 40 points. He should be on waiver wires in most pools.
Alexander Steen (THN rank: 110: Yahoo ADP: 77.9)
Steen is a productive player, one of the more underappreciated of his generation. He's typically been a great sneaky add around pick 100, but things have reversed. Now he's overvalued at 77.9 because he never gets through a full season. He's missed 12.3 games on average over his past three years. Major shoulder surgery in June knocked him out of the World Cup, and while he's optimistic about suiting up for the Blues next month, it's concerning that his health is already in question again.
Jimmy Vesey (THN rank: none; Yahoo ADP: 124.6)
Jimmy Vesey is being drafted ahead of Auston Matthews right now. There are no words. Matthews lit up a pro league in Switzerland, then flourished against NHLers at the worlds, and now he looks poised to make a statement with Team North America at the World Cup. Vesey won the Hobey Baker as college hockey's best player but has never played pro hockey. He should have a learning curve and is nowhere near a lock to make the Rangers. The hype train has veered off the rails and tumbled into a ditch.
THE BLACKHAWKS/KINGS PROBLEM
Chicago's and Los Angeles' "mini dynasty years" have inflated the ADPs of everything they touch, from current players to former players. They're all great real-life contributors, but they're presumed to be top-notch fantasy assets, which they aren't. I mentioned Quick, Sharp and Shaw already, but here are some more overpriced current and former Hawks and Kings:
Down Goes Brown: Five times a team avenged a round robin loss at the World Cup
By: Sean McIndoe
Sep 21, 2016
The history of the World and Canada Cup tournament is filled with surprising round robin results that ended up getting flipped, so don't worry just yet. Unless you're Team USA.
We're two games into the round robin portion of the World Cup, and we've already seen a handful of upsets, with favorites like Russia and the United States already tasting defeat, and in the case of the Americans, already being eliminated. With one game to go and some of the four playoff spots still up for grabs, fans around the world are no doubt panicking over the games their teams let get away.
But while the round robin is obviously important – you have to make the playoffs to win the whole thing – it's worth remembering that the results of individual games don't necessarily tell us much as much as we might think about what will happen in the playoff rounds.
In fact, the history of the World and Canada Cup tournament is filled with surprising round robin results that ended up getting flipped down the line. So in an effort to calm some nerves, here are five times that overreacting to a round robin result would have steered you wrong once the eliminations games began.
1976: Czechoslovakia 1 – Canada 0
In the first ever round robin game in Canada Cup history, Canada made a statement by crushing Finland 11-2. They went on the beat Sweden and the U.S., and they closed out the round with a win over their arch-rivals from the Soviet Union, winning those three games by a combined score of 11-3.
But in between, they dropped a surprising decision to Czechoslovakia. Vladimir Dzurilla outduelled Rogie Vachon at the Montreal Forum, turning aside all 29 shots he faced in a 1-0 win. The game was an instant classic, described at the time as one of the best ever played.
The two teams finished at the top of round robin standings, setting up a best-of-three final. But there was no repeat of Dzurilla's heroics – Team Canada blitzed him for four goals in the first period of the opening game, sending him to the bench and paving the way for a lopsided 6-0 win. Game 2 was more entertaining, with Canada jumping out to a 2-0 lead just three minutes in before a Czechoslovakian comeback set the stage for Darryl Sittler's tournament winner in overtime.
1981: Canada 7 – Soviet Union 3
By 1981, the Soviet Union was coming off a relatively rough stretch of international play. They'd won their usual Olympic gold in 1972 and 1976, but been upset by Team USA's Miracle on Ice squad in 1980, lost the 1972 Summit Series, and failed to even make the final of the 1976 Canada Cup.
When they met Canada in 1981 in the final game of the round robin, both teams were undefeated and battling for first place. The game was tied at 2-2 heading into the third, but Canada erupted for five straight goals in what ended up being a 7-3 laugher. Even with star goaltender Vladislav Tretiak sitting out due to illness, the result was an embarrassing one for the Soviets.
Both teams won their semifinal game to advance to a one-game winner-take-all final in Montreal. With Tretiak back in goal, most fans expected a closer game. Instead, they got an even bigger blowout. But this time, it was the Soviets who ran up the score, earning an 8-1 win and handing Canada what still stands to this day as its most embarrassing international loss.
1984: Soviet Union 6 – Canada 3
Three years after their impressive win, the Soviets looked even more dominant through the round robin portion of the 1984 tournament. Heading into a final game showdown against a struggling Team Canada, they were sporting a 4-0-0 record and looking to wrap up the tournament's top seed. They went on to smother their rivals in an impressive 6-3 win, finishing the round robin with a perfect record and dropping Canada down to fourth place.
That set up another meeting between the two nations in the tournament semi-final, held just three days later in Calgary. After being held to just 17 shots in the round robin, Canada exploded for 41 in the rematch. But Soviet goaltender Vladimir Myshkin stood on his head, and had his team in position to win with a 2-1 lead late in regulation. It took a late goal by Doug Wilson to set up overtime, where Paul Coffey's lunging breakup of a Soviet 2-on-1 set the stage of Mike Bossy's sudden death winner.
Canada went on to sweep Sweden in the final to claim the tournament. It marked the third straight time that the eventual Canada Cup champion had avenged a round robin loss on the way to their title.
1987: Czechoslovakia 4 – Canada 4; Sweden 5 – Soviet Union 3
The 1987 Canada Cup marked the first time that the eventual champion went undefeated through the round robin. That would be Canada, who beat the Soviets in a three-game classic punctuated by Mario Lemieux's historic winner.
But while Canada didn't have any losses to avenge on their way to the title, they weren't perfect in the round robin. And the first blemish came in their opening game, when a rusty Canadian squad blew a third period lead on their way to a 4-4 tie with Czechoslovakia. That was a disappointing result against a team that had gone 0-4-1 in the previous tournament, and raised questions as to whether Canada could defend their crown. Meanwhile, the tournament's other favorite had a disappointing opening of their own, as the Soviets gave up three goals in the first eight minutes while dropping a 5-3 decisions to Sweden.
Both powerhouses recovered well, with each winning three straight before facing each other in the round robin finale and skating to a 3-3 draw. That set up a pair of semifinal rematches, with Canada facing Czechoslovakia and the Soviets drawing Sweden.
This time, the favorites took care of business. Canada started slowly but pumped home four straight goals to take a 5-3 final, while the Soviets jumped out to an early 3-0 lead before eliminating Sweden by a 4-2 score. That set the stage for a final that still stands as perhaps the best international hockey series ever played.
As a side note, the Czechoslovakian goaltender for both of those games against Canada was a 22-year-old kid that most North Americans had never heard of. He eventually made it to the NHL three years later, and turned out to be pretty good. He even got some revenge against Canada at an international tournament over a decade later.
2004: Russia 3 – USA 1; Sweden 4 – Czech Republic 3
Canada didn't have to avenge any round robin losses on their way to the 1991 title, and the United States likewise was a perfect 3-0-0 under the new World Cup format before winning it all in 1996. Canada repeated that feat in 2004, making it four straight Canada/World Cups that have been won by a team that didn't suffer a loss during the round robin. Yes, that's right – it's now been 32 years and counting since a team lost a round robin game and still managed to win this tournament. Wait, this is supposed to be about giving teams that lost in the round robin hope. Forget everything I just mentioned.
But we can still find a couple of revenge games in the 2004 round robin, thanks to that year's, um, interesting format. The tournament featured eight teams, and the playoff round featured… eight teams. Yes, everyone made the playoffs in 2004, with the round robin settling the seeding and nothing else.
That format actually gave us a few interesting moments, like top-seeded Finland needing a goal in the dying minutes to edge winless Germany 2-1. And it also set up a pair of interesting rematches. In the round robin, the defending champion Team USA had dropped its first two games, to Canada and Russia. In the latter game, they fell 3-1 while being outshot 45-21. The 0-2 start didn't hurt their playoff hopes, because of the whole "everyone makes it" thing, but it certainly put a dent in their confidence.
Meanwhile, the Czechs dropped their opener 4-0 to Finland, then fell behind by the same score to Sweden. They came back to at least make that game a respectable 4-3 final, but other than running up the score on Germany in the finale, they didn't come out of the round robin with much room for optimism.
But in the opening round, both teams got a chance at payback, and both took it. The Czechs looked like a different team, shelling Mikael Tellqvist and Team Sweden in a 6-1 win. The Russia/Team USA rematch was a closer affair, with both teams going back and forth, but the Americans held on for a 5-3 win.
Both teams went on to lose in the semifinal, although the U.S. blew a late lead against Finland and the Czechs took Canada to overtime. Canada beat Finland in the one-game final, the year-long NHL lockout began the next day, and the World Cup hasn't been seen since. Twelve years later, we're finally getting another look at the tournament, and another chance to see a tough round robin loss avenged in the playoffs.
At least, that's what teams like Russia, Finland and North America are hoping.
Sean McIndoe has been writing about the NHL since 2008, most recently for ESPN and Grantland. He spends most of his time making jokes on twitter, where you may know him as @downgoesbrown. He appears weekly on TheHockeyNews.com.