Two Leafs players saw action on the opening day.
In Copenhagen, Nikita Zaitsev had two assists as Russia beat France 7-0. Notable in this opening game was his stated usage on a pairing with Nikita Nesterov behind the second line of younger and fast players Mikhail Grigorenko, Artyom Anisimov and Pavel Bushnevich. In fact, he assisted on two goals by top-line forward Kirill Kaprizov, including the opening goal of the game.
In the other game in Copenhagen, Sweden beat Belarus 5-0.
Over in Herning, the day started with a wild game between Canada and the USA that pitted Darcy Kuemper against Keith Kinkaid and went to a shootout, won by the USA. Canada’s going to really suffer in net this tournament, and the USA looked little better.
The marquee game was the host team Denmark taking on the Olympic silver medalists in Germany. Germany was missing their goalie for the Olympics and a few forwards, but Leon Draisaitl was there to give Frederik Andersen a rough time. At least in theory. Draisaitl had several breakaways, but missed the net every time.
Andersen let in the first goal while flat on the ice after his own player knocked him over, the second was an odd two-on-one play where he seemed to have it, but the pass was deflected and then he missed on the shot. (Sound familiar?) He followed that up with a stellar save on a similar play, and withstood heavy pressure in the third period to preserve the tie.
Denmark won in a shootout in front of the crowd in Herning on a goal by Frans Nielsen, the man who used to take shots on Andersen in the road in that very town when they were kids. The crowd was, to say the least, ecstatic.
Today’s games include Kasperi Kapanen’s first game as a member of the men’s team for Finland, and a repeat performance by Denmark in a much tougher match up in the late game.
In Copenhagen, Switzerland faces Austria, France plays Belarus and the Czechs (featuring Tomas Plekanec) play their archest of arch rivals Slovakia.
In Herning, Norway plays Latvia, Finland faces Korea at 10:15 a.m. and Denmark plays the USA at 2:15 p.m.
All times are Eastern Time, and for more details see the official schedule. Check TSN to see which games will be broadcast or streamed if you have those services. Some games are aired on NHL Network in the USA.
Finland starts the tournament easy and finishes with the USA on the last day, so they need to win their easy ones clean to get a decent seeding for the medal rounds. They can’t be lazy against Korea.
We don’t know yet if Denmark plans to ride Andersen in every game, but it would be a surprise to see him not face the Americans, back-to-back or no. And speaking of backups, Canada plays Korea on Sunday, and the choice of goalie there might be very interesting. As of now, only Kuemper and Curtis McElhinney are on the official roster, even though Michael DiPietro is on hand. Canada might be waiting to see if someone else becomes available, but for now, it seems like Sunday’s game is likely McE’s.
The other game at Worlds, beyond the hockey, is watching for unsigned European free agents. So far the standout has been Germany’s Dominik Kahun who already has been signed by Chicago. But a very interesting one to watch is Dennis Everberg. He tried to crack the Colorado Avalanche, but it never worked out, and he played one year in Sweden, one in the KHL, and has become a Swedish national team regular. He’s only 26. He can carry the puck, and he almost has a good enough shot for the NHL while playing a gritty game. Someone might look to try him out again.