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WCH2016 Saturday: USA vs. Europe, Czech Republic vs. Canada, preview, game times, and chat

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Day 1 of the World Cup of Hockey kicks off with two games.

Hockey: World Cup of Hockey-Pre Tournament-Team USA vs Team Canada Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

It’s finally here. After months of debate over rosters, and a pre-tournament played globally, the World Cup of Hockey is about to start.

3:30PM ET. Team USA vs. Team Europe

Team Europe started poorly in the pre-tournament. Paired against Team North America, they were blown away by their speed, handily losing two in a row. The team looked like they were still feeling each other out, not quite sure what their style or game plan was supposed to be, though they pulled it together a bit in the third period of the second game.

Their play continued to turn around and improved even more in the third tune-up game vs. Sweden, which they won 6-2.

Both Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss had chances to start in net, but Halak got the win in against Sweden, so it is not surprising he will be starting.

Over on Team USA they have all of Jonathan Quick, Ben Bishop, and Cory Schneider available for the net. Quick is expected to start in goal today, but, with John Tortorella running the bench, you never know.

Team USA won two of their three tune-up games, including one very convincing defeat of Team Canada.

Look for the van Riemsdyk-Stepan-Kane line to take a lot of shots on goal. Also watch for the third line with Ryan Kesler, which has been sneaking in a lot of points while also drawing (and earning) penalties.

I have heard that a special anthem was made for Team Europe but that the players hated it and told them to trash it. We shall see at the start of the game.

8:00PM ET Czech Republic vs. Canada

I guess the Czech players didn’t like the whole "Czechia" thing either.

The Czech team won 2 of their 3 tune up games, with one victory in a shootout.

And then there’s Team Canada. The team everyone sort of supports by default but not really this time? This tournament may be a tipping point for fans who have kicked off a sort of rebellion to the endless and obnoxious corporate sponsorship drenched in faux-Canadiana that has never really been a part of or an aspiration for their life. I have seen a lot of Team North America gear out and about town, and they have certainly got a lot of support on Twitter. It’s actually cool to hate Team Canada now. Way to go, Scotiabank.

Anyway, Carey Price will of course start in net. He will be backed up by Corey Crawford. Who will be in net for Team Czechia Czech Republic is apparently some kind of state secret, but, if you have forgotten, and you probably have, the options are Michal Neuvirth and Pater Mrzaek. Ondrej Pavelec is there too but LOLNO.

Maple Leafs’ Roman Polak and Milan Michalek will be playing for Team Czech Republic, and Maple Leaf Steven Stamkos will be playing for Team Canada.

Grab some popcorn and chat about today’s games here!

Don’t forget!

The final round of our fan vote ends at midnight. This is your last chance to vote down Auston Matthews!