USA Hockey does an excellent job of covering their World Championship team, and ahead of Friday’s Worlds opener vs. Canada (10 AM EDT on the NHL Network), Team USA posted a video in which Dylan Larkin and Jeff Blashill (among others) discuss the Americans’ tasks at hand…
“I think we proved to ourselves last year we were good enough to win this tournament,” said Blashill, who just completed his third season as head coach of the Detroit Red Wings. “We were in a great position and unfortunately we lost the wrong game.”
Four players return from last year’s National Team, including forwards Johnny Gaudreau (Salem, N.J./Calgary Flames), Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich./Detroit Red Wings) and Anders Lee (Edina, Minn./New York Islanders) and defenseman Connor Murphy (Dublin, Ohio/Chicago Blackhawks). Murphy captained Team USA while the three forwards combined for 13 goals and 29 points to fuel the U.S. effort.
With that core in place, along with a barrage of newcomers led by 2018 U.S. captain Patrick Kane (Buffalo, N.Y./Chicago Blackhawks), Blashill believes this group has the talent to compete for gold.
“We were a talented group last year and we’re equally as talented this year,” said Blashill. “We need to believe in ourselves and build as a hockey team throughout the tournament.”
And the Free Press’s Helene St. James posted a “Red Wings at the World Championship” primer:
Detroit Red Wings at the tournament
Forward Dylan Larkin is back for a second straight year, this time as an alternate captain for the U.S. Coach Jeff Blashill will be behind the bench, also for a second straight year. Defenseman Nick Jensen was named to the U.S. squad on the strength of his skating ability.
Gustav Nyquist is on Sweden’s squad. Former Wings great Nicklas Lidstrom is expected to be part of the color commentary for the Swedish games.
Frans Nielsen headlines the Danish team.
Defense prospects Filip Hronek and Libor Sulak were both named to the Czech roster.
Sizing up the competition
Each group has three hockey power houses – A has the Czechs, the Russians and the Swedes, and B has the Canadians, the Finns and the Americans. All six teams made it to the quarterfinals of the 2017 tournament, and are expected to do so again this year. Sweden ended up winning last year, defeating Canada in everybody’s least favorite way to end a major tournament: a shootout. Russia took bronze by beating Finland (which beat the U.S. in a quarterfinal).