Zdeno Chara and David Krejci continue to be part of winning teams at the IIHF Hockey World Championship and, as the preliminary round starts to end, the chances of both teams competing in the semifinals look good.
Slovakia had a day off after beating Kazakhstan, and uniting a disparate band of players who normally earn their living playing on various different teams can be a challenge at any level, so what’s a national team to do? Team fun day at the go-kart track (site is in Slovak)! That is, for everyone except Chara, who is apparently too tall to ride the go-karts. Instead, he sat on the sidelines, still wearing a jumpsuit like his fellow countrymen. But it looks like the team fun day helped because Slovakia followed it up by defeating Belarus 5-1.
The Belorussian team had been rattled by their 5-3 loss to America on May 10: two goals in the first chased goalie Andrei Mezin from the net–and from the tournament. After that game, it was announced that he was leaving Helsinki because he wasn’t happy being the backup. The arrival of the Kostitsyn brothers from the Nashville Predators was supposed to really recharge the team and provide more offense, but it didn’t, at least not in this game. The Kostitsyns did each put up an assist, though.
But Slovakia got the goal-scoring started and then a sudden deluge of offense in the second period resulted in four goals in under four minutes, or about a goal a minute. Belarus was done for. Chara’s contributions included a shot on goal and a team-leading 24 minutes on ice, plus the satisfaction of turning around a team record that began with two losses and didn’t look so great at first.
A day earlier, the Czech Republic took out Italy 6-0. Krejci assisted on the first goal of the game, a tally by Petr Nedved that went to video review but was deemed a good goal. He also won 70 percent of his faceoffs, though he’s taking fewer draws than guys like Jiri Novotny and Tomas Plekanec. Another Nashville Predator made his debut in this game, Martin Erat, and he scored plus he got an assist. Petr Caslava got two goals as well. Even though Czech got the shutout, Plekanec said that his team can still give more. But with a third place berth in Group S, sitting behind two teams that were both undefeated until they faced one another (Russia won the battle of the undefeated teams versus Sweden), it seems like they’re doing alright.
Other games of note on May 12: Canada absolutely demolished Kazakhstan 8-0 and qualifies for the quarterfinals as first place holders in Group S. Norway also earned a shutout, 3-0 against Latvia, and Sweden shut Italy out 4-0.