The IIHF World Championships preliminary round wrapped up today and the St. Louis Blues represented their countries well. Here is a quick recap of the Blues players progress as well as how their teams have fared.
Blues starting goalie Jaroslav Halak has faced a lot of pressure playing in his hometown during this tournament and it has shown. Halak is 1-2-0 and has allowed 9 goals in those three games. Even with a 1-2-0 record, Team Slovakia will still compete in the Qualification Round and have the chance to medal in their home country.
Vladimir Tarasenko has not fared much better than Halak in the tournament either. Tarasenko has recorded only 5 shots and a -3 rating after dominating the World Juniors last year and winning the gold medal. Konstantin Barulin has only played in one game and that was in relief but he did record the win. Barulin was sent in against Slovakia with Russia down a goal and stopped all 12 shots he faced as Russia scored 2 unanswered to take the win.
Russia was upset by Germany to open the tournament but won their next two to finish at 2-1-0 after the preliminary round. Russia will play Denmark, the Czech Republic and Finland in the Qualifying round.
Team Canada swept through the prelims with perfect 3-0 record and CHris Stewart and Alex Pietrangelo had big parts in those games. Stewart has 2 goals and a +5 rating with his second goal tying the game up late against Switzerland in the final prelim game.
Pietrangelo has 2 goals. an assist and a +6 rating. Pietrangelo sealed Canada’s 3-0 record with the overtime winning goal against the Swiss on May 2nd. Carlo Colaiacovo was a late addition to the team and only played in the Swiss game but was still productive. Colaiacovo had 2 shots on goal and a +1 rating and started the play that led to Pietrangelo’s game winning goal.
Canada will start the Qualifying round May 6th with a pivotal matchup with the USA followed by games against Norway and Sweden. This will be the first time Canada and the US will have met since the Olympic gold medal game, but it will have a decidedly diffrerent lok and feel as a lot of players from that game are either in the playoffs or resting injuries.
Team USA started off strong with 2 decisive victories over Austria and Norway but fell flat against Sweden in the final game of the round. The US still advanced to the Qualification round but will face a tough road to the playoff round. Canada will be the toughest test but France and Switzerland can surprise an unprepared team and the US could be eliminated quickly.
As far as the Blues players on the US squad, Ty Conklin has yet to see any action in three games and will continue to serve as the backup until Al Montoya blows up, if that happens. Chris Porter has appeared in all three games but has no points to show for it. Porter also is a -3 like Tarasenko and has only 4 shots in 3 games.
Kevin Shattenkirk has continued his stellar rookie season with a strong showing in this tournament. Shattenkirk has a goal and an assist but was also exposed in the Sweden game. The US team needs to pick up the physical play as the Swedes bumped this team around more than Austria and Norway did.
FInally we hit on what could be the underrated team of the tournament. Team Sweden went 2-1 in the prelimanry round but were sparked by their surprise loss to Norway and outscored their next two opponents 9-2. Blues forward Patrik Berglund leads the team and the tournament with 4 goals in 3 games.
Team Sweden will look to advance to the playoff round but will need to defeat a strong French team, a determined Swiss team and the favorite Canadians.
Stay tuned to bluemenonice.com for updates on the Blues players progress as well as Team USA’s results. We will preview the playoff round as soon as the teams are set.