Russia vs. Sweden


Sunday, Sept. 18, 3:00 p.m. ET, Air Canada Centre
TV Broadcast: ESPN, SN, TVA Sports
Live Stream: WatchESPN, NHL Live

Exhibition record:

Sweden: L-W-L
Russia: W-L-L


Sweden draws Russia as their first foe in the tournament. Sporting the same record in the exhibition games, there is no clear favorite, although pre-tournament predictions say that Sweden will be the stronger team. The game will be fascinating to watch, in part because Russia will ice some of the best forwards in the NHL, and they'll be matched against some of the world's best defensemen, including Sweden's top pair of Victor Hedman and Erik Karlsson.

Sweden was waxed in their last exhibition game vs. Team Europe, with Henrik Lundqvist allowing six goals to Sweden's two, but the players don't seem very concerned, saying that they've made adjustments to their game since. The top line of Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Loui Eriksson have provided most of Team Sweden's offense (4G/4A between them), while the top two Russian lines look so fierce that it's easy to forget that the third line of Artemi Panarin-Vadim Shipachyov-Evgeny Dadonov has already garnered 2G/2A in the exhibition games. If Russia can figure out a way for its aging defense to shut down Sweden's top line, the game will be much more balanced.

Potential Sweden lines:

D Sedin - H Sedin - Eriksson
Forsberg - Backstrom - Hornqvist
Silfverberg - Kruger - Hagelin
Landeskog - Soderberg - Rakell
Hedman - Karlsson
Hjalmarsson - Stralman
OEL - Ekholm


Potential Russia lines:

Kucherov - Kuznetsov - Ovechkin
Tarasenko - Malkin - Datsyuk
Dadonov - Shipachyov - Panarin
Namestnikov - Anisimov - Telegin
Zaitsev - Orlov
Emelin - Markov
Marchenko - Kulikov

North America vs. Finland


Sunday, Sept. 18, 8:00 p.m. ET, Air Canada Centre
TV Broadcast: ESPN, SN, TVA Sports
Live Stream: WatchESPN, NHL Live

Exhibition record:

North America: W-W-L
Finland: W-L-L

Potential lines and preview:

There are no potential lines out for Finland or North America yet, although Coach Lauri Marjamäki has mentioned that he will likely start Pekka Rinne tonight against Stanley Cup winning youngster Matt Murray. We do know one line, announced yesterday at the Fan Festival. Team North America has decided to go with a certain Toronto-bound kid, Auston Matthews, in a line with Connor McDavid and Mark Scheifele. There was so much praise for Matthews that I think it's worth putting here:

"We're still looking for combinations that will give us the best chance to win," McLellan said. "Connor, I think, has been getting better. I thought Auston's been one of our top forwards. Those two complement each other, Auston with his size (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) and his ability to hold onto the puck, and Connor with his speed."Matthews was the 13th forward at the start of Team North America camp. Though he has not played an NHL game, he earned his promotion, McLellan said.

"Every time he goes on the ice he seems to be able to adapt to people that are around him and complement them," McLellan said. "Auston has the ability to play the game fast, also to slow it down with his size and protect pucks and make plays. He's been one of our most responsible forwards.

"Those high-end guys have such good hockey sense and such a good mind that they have the ability to play on both sides of the puck, if they choose to do it. A lot of times, it's not choosing to do it. Auston's choosing to do it right now and doing a good job of it."

Patrick Laine, Aleksander Barkov, and Sebastian Aho are the speculated top line against Matthews, McDavid, and Scheifele, matching youth for youth and speed for speed. How will Laine match up against Matthews? Excellent question.

Who wins tonight?

North America and Russia109
North America and Sweden213
Finland and Russia17
Finland and Sweden40
Auston Matthews101