10 playoff stories
10 playoff stories
What to look for in final days of WW
1.Will Hayley return?
Canada’s captain left midway through the team’s opening game against the U.S. and hasn’t returned. If her injury is more serious than the team is letting on, her absence would leave a big hole in the team’s offence heading into the medal round. She is the all-time points leader in head-to-head games with the U.S. (16 points in 20 career games).
2. Attendance Records
The Canada-Finland game on Friday night set a record with 18,014 fans in Scotiabank Place. The gold-medal game could well eclipse this mark. As well, 2013 Ottawa will surpass the tournament attendance record of 119,231 set in Winnipeg in 2007.
3. Can Raty rebound?
Finnish goalie Noora Raty had a rough outing last night against Canada. If the Finns hope to win a medal, she has to be at her best. She was the star goalie in NCAA play this year as University of Minnesota Golden Gophers compiled a 41-0 record and won the national championship. That is the Raty who must perform the rest of this WW, starting this afternoon against Germany.
4. Will Sweden avoid the ultimate ignominy?
Without Kim Martin because of injury, and without virtually all of the top stars who took Sweden to the Mirakel silver medal at the 2006 Olympics, the Swedes have struggled badly in Ottawa. Now they must rally to beat the Czechs in a best-of-three to avoid being relegated to Division I, something no Swedish team has ever experienced since entering IIHF competition in 1920.Continue reading
5. Russia enters the top half
Russia skated to an impressive 3-0-0-0 record in the preliminary round, accruing a goals differential of 11-1 along the way. But those wins came against the lower-ranked countries. Now, they must face “top-four” competition if their successful run is to continue.
With the exception of two Canadian blowouts most games have been competitive and scores respectable. But only two games have gone past 60 minutes of regulation: Canada beat the U.S. in a shootout, and the Swedes won their only game in OT against the Germans. With the added pressure of playoff elimination, there is cause to suggest we’ll see more late drama unfold.
7. MVP candidates
Several players on the North American teams have stood out this year, notably Brianna Decker (USA), Amanda Kessel (USA), Jennifer Wakefield (CAN), and Catherine Ward (CAN). Yet, if someone from either country is to be named MVP, she’ll have to do something special in the gold-medal game to separate herself from the pack. European contenders are highlighted by a pair of goalies—Nadezhda Alexandrova (RUS) and Florence Schelling (SUI).
8. Scoring title
Three players have four goals: Canadians Marie-Philip Poulin and Brianne Jenner, and U.S. forward Brianna Decker. Poulin got all her goals in a lop-sided win against Switzerland while Jenner had two against the Swiss and Finns. Decker has scored in every game. Jennifer Wakefield and Meghan Agosta-Marciano (both CAN) are right behind with three goals.
9. Bronze possibilities
Finland, Switzerland, Russia, and Germany are all in the mix for third place. The Finns appear to have the edge, but Switzerland has the goaltending, Russia has momentum and confidence, and Germany has nothing to lose. No matter which two countries qualify for the penultimate game, it promises to be exciting.
10. Can the U.S. win gold?
Canada won gold last year, but the Americans have been dominant since 2005, winning four of six gold. More important, they have won the last two Women’s World prior to an Olympics (2005, 2009). For now, common sense suggests their opponent will be Canada, so the question is, can the Americans wrest the title from the hosts in a raucous and noisy pro-Canada crowd?
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