From 10 to 26 May Slovakia will host one of the main sporting events of the year - the World Ice Hockey Championship.
Despite the height of the NHL playoffs, the tournament in Kosice and Bratislava attracts much more attention from the global hockey community. Let's understand all the intricacies of the World Championship. If you are new to the ice and haven’t already, make sure and check our complete ice-hockey betting guide too.
How does the Ice-Hockey World Championship work?
Traditionally, 16 national teams will compete for the victory, divided into two groups:
Group A: Canada, USA, Finland, Germany, Slovakia, Denmark, France, United Kingdom.
Group B: Sweden, Russia, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Norway, Latvia, Austria, Italy.
In the group stage, from 10 to 21 May, each team will play seven games, after which the four best teams from each group will enter the playoffs. Quarter-finals (May 23), semi-finals (May 25) and finals (May 26) consist of one game.
Ice-Hockey World Championship Favourites
Experts and fans expect the main fight for gold between the following four teams:
Have you ever doubted that the maple leaves will be on this list? After an unsuccessful World Cup 2018, where Canadians sensationally lost to Switzerland in the semifinals, and then completely left without medals, losing to the USA (1: 4), the team will do everything possible to rehabilitate.
Yes, Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid will not come to Slovakia, but even without them, there are enough stars in the 26-time world champions squad. Take at least the top three Sean Couturier, Mark Stone and John Tavares. Plus goalkeeper Matt Murray, who will add reliability in the defense.
The current champions brought the most powerful lineup, which clearly indicates their desire to take the third title in a row. Yes, there will be no representatives of Anaheim and only one Matthias Ekholm from Nashville, but this is not a problem for the Scandinavians.
As part of Sweden, the most experienced Henrik Lundqvist (goalkeeper) and striker Patrick Hörnquist, defenders Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Adam Larsson, Toronto striker William Nylander and, of course, child prodigy Elias Pettersson stand out.
With such a selection of performers, we can safely bet that Sweden is more likely to be in the final again.
The Red Machine managed to collect one of the strongest compositions in recent years. Malkin, Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and even Kovalchuk are back in the ranks. The Russians have high hopes for the duo of Tampa Bay, goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy (best goalkeeper of the regular season) and forwards Nikita Kucherov (best scorer of the regular season).
In 2018, Russia in the quarter-finals flew out of Canada and, of course, Ilya Vorobyovs team will try to perform much better. Otherwise, it will be the fifth World Cup, where the Red Machine will not be able to win gold medals.
Americans have long shown nothing outstanding at the World Championships. The national team won the tournament only twice, and the last time in the distant 1960 year. Over the past 10 years, the United States was content with only three bronzes. So the hockey leadership of the country is not satisfied with such results and they decided to change it.
It is safe to say that the Americans brought the strongest part to the 21st century to Slovakia. This is not a team of students, representatives of the AHL and goal unnamers. For example, 11 out of 17 players were selected in the first rounds of the NHL draft pick.
Also at the disposal of Jeff Blashill experienced Corey Schneider (goalkeeper) and Ryan Suter (defender), as well as NHL stars James van Riemsdyk, Johnny Gaudreau, Jack Eichel and Detroit captain - Dylan Larkin.
To lead all behind him is destined to Patrick Kane. The MVP of the last World Championship will surely become one of the main newsmakers of the upcoming tournament and will help their team to make a step forward.
The traditional favourite of any world hockey championship. However, this time it is not necessary to expect a bright performance from the Suomi. In connection with the passage of Carolina and Dallas in the quarterfinals of the NHL, the Finns lost seven important players. Probably, this time the team will not be able to compete for medals.
The tournament’s dark horses
Now is the time to figure out who can become the main sensation of the ice grounds of Bratislava and Košice.
In 2018, Switzerland repeated its success in 2013, winning silver medals, losing to the Swedish in the final only in the shootout. In the game, the Swiss were not an inch inferior to the top teams, and the victories over Finland and Canada at last year’s tournament are a clear confirmation of this.
There is almost no doubt that Switzerland will make the playoffs, but it's hard to say what will happen next. Perhaps this time the team will again be able to create a miracle.
Before the national fans, the national team will throw and toss, which means going to the playoffs is a matter of course. Slovaks called on almost all of the strongest of those who are available at the moment and are able to fight for a place in the top four in their country.
You should not count on a miracle from the German team, but you can get to see them in the playoffs. Last year, Germany failed the World Cup, to get only two wins and becoming only the sixth in the group. But in 2016 and 2017, the Germans invariably reached the quarter-finals.
Of course, much will depend on the NHL trio: Korbinian Holzer (Anaheim), Dominik Kahun (Chicago) and the main star - Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton), who became the most productive German in the history of the NHL.
Bitcoin World Cup Hockey betting
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