Things keep going well for Zdeno Chara and David Krejci at the IIHF 2012 Hockey World Championship. Both of their teams won earlier this week and both teams put together another win to improve their places in the standings.
Slovakia beat Kazakhstan 4-2 on May 9 to get fourth place in the Group H standings. Dominik Granak got scoring started for Slovakia just over a minute into the game, assisted by Miroslav Satan and Libor Hudacek. It took Kazakhstan about ten minutes to put one past Jan Laco, but the tie held until nearly the end of the second period. Hudacek broke through with a goal assisted by Granak and Chara while on the power play. Konstantin Pushkaryov tied it up yet again for Kazakhstan in the beginning of the third, but five minutes later Tomas Kopecky (Florida Panthers) pushed Slovakia ahead yet again. Later that period, with Kazakhstan down a man because of a too many men penalty, Kopecky struck again and secured the win. Kopecky had taken a slashing penalty in the second period, so maybe those two goals were his way of apologizing for the mistake.
Considering that Slovakia lost their first two games of the tournament, bouncing back like this is a good sign for them if they’d like to earn a guaranteed spot in the 2014 Olympics. Meanwhile, Kazakhstan has lost all four of its games so far–and next they take on America, a team with a wide variety of goal scorers that is good on both the power play and penalty kill.
The Czech Republic, which was also in fourth place but in Group S before this game, beat Latvia 3-1 and jumped into third. Latvia struck first in the second period, but they tend to draw first blood in all of their games regardless of outcome. Milan Michalek (Ottawa Senators) tied the game about five minutes later, though the Czechs weren’t able to snag a lead until the next period and spent much of the second taking penalties along with the Latvians. But finally, 40-year-old Petr Nedved snapped the tie and brought his team some momentum. They didn’t take any more penalties and captain Tomas Plekanec (Montreal Canadiens) added a power play goal to strengthen the lead. In this game, Krejci won 58 percent of his faceoffs and took four shots on goal, at least one per period.
Next up for Slovakia is Belarus on May 12. Next up for the Czech Republic is Italy on May 11. Both Belarus and Italy are in seventh place in their respective groups and lost their most recent games.
Speaking of standings, there are three teams that have yet to lose a game–Finland, Russia and Sweden. Considering that two of them are host countries, and one is the defending champion team (Finland), maybe there’s something to be said about home ice advantage in this tournament.