The preliminary games have started for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, and many Chicago Blackhawks players have been making a statement.
This past Thursday marked the beginning of the eight teams competing in the 2016 World Cup taking to the ice for their practice games. There were three games Thursday, one matchup Friday, three more tilts Saturday, and another contest on Sunday. Ten Chicago Blackhawks players were involved in these matchups, and many of them have made some notable contributions. Let’s see what’s been happening with the members of our favorite team.
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Patrick Kane. Kaner represented Team USA on Friday and Saturday, both nights against Team Canada. As these two teams are predicted to go far in the tournament, there is definitely some healthy competition going on, even during preliminary games. Kane scored a goal in the first period Friday, because what else would you expect from the NHL’s leading scorer last season? He also assisted on a Joe Pavelski goal in the second frame, helping to lead his team to a 4-2 victory.
Unfortunately for Kane and the Americans, things didn’t go as well the following night. Although Kane notched another helper on a power play goal from John Carlson, the team was defeated 5-2 by the Canadians.
Jonathan Toews. Kane and Toews have been teammates with the Chicago Blackhawks since they both were drafted, but in this tournament they are on opposite ends of the ice. Toews played for Team Canada, and contributed an assist in Saturday’s game.
He also can’t seem to let go of his propensity for gooning. On Friday, there was a bit of an incident that involved Ryan Kesler. There is no love lost between these two players, and Toews took exception when Kesler boarded Shea Weber. He proceeded to tackle him to the ice. Kesler ended up with a boarding penalty and was ejected from the game, and Toews and Weber were both charged with roughing.
Well, that’s what Captains do isn’t it? Stick up for their teammates. In this case, Toews is serving as an alternate captain, but you get the idea. I’m sure he takes it no less seriously than serving in the captain role. (It’s worth noting that Kane is also serving as an alternate captain for Team USA.)
Corey Crawford. Speaking of Team Canada, Corey Crawford was the netminder for the last half of the Saturday matchup against the United States. Canada has plenty of talent in net; Carey Price played the entire game Friday, and Braden Holtby participated in the first half of Saturday’s tilt. But it was Crow that stole the show. The game took place in Ottawa, which is Crawford’s home town. The fans couldn’t get enough of him, as he stopped 10 out of 10 shots faced.
Niklas Hjalmarsson. While Chicago Blackhawk’s defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson hasn’t necessarily stood out while competing with Team Sweden, he pulled a sweet move on fellow Swedish teammate Erik Karlsson during practice. That’s right, Norris Trophy winning Erik Karlsson. Feel free to remember how you did that when you come back to the Chicago Blackhawks, Hjammer!
Michal Kempny. Speaking of Blackhawks defensemen, the newest of these is Michal Kempny, who is suiting up for the Czech Republic in this World Cup. He potted a nifty goal on Thursday against Team Russia. The video below shows highlights of this matchup, including Kempny’s goal as well as a goal by Artem Panarin that is discussed below.
Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov. In the same game that Kempny scored, our very own Artemi Panarin also managed a goal and an assist for Russia, which helped lead them to a 4-3 victory. Interestingly, fellow Blackhawk Artem Anisimov did not play in this game. But he did suit up for the Saturday matchup. He had no points, but clocked 13:36 minutes of ice time. It will be interesting to see how both players are utilized as the tournament progresses.
In the meantime, there has been some reason for concern in regards to a few Chicago Blackhawks’ players.
Marian Hossa. Big Hoss did not participate for Team Europe in the third period Thursday’s tilt against Team North America. Instead, he was taken to the hospital, and every Chicago Blackhawk’s fan was in full panic mode. Well, it turned out that Hossa simply had a bruised foot from being hit with a puck. We can all breathe a sigh of relief, because he played 17:46 minutes in Sunday’s 7-4 loss to North America.
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Marcus Kruger. Things aren’t looking as good for Marcus Kruger of Team Sweden. He also was held out of the third period of his team’s Thursday preliminary game. His affliction is being called an “upper body injury”, and many fear it may be a concussion. He did not make an appearance in the matchup on Saturday, but according to Dan Rosen of NHL.com, Sweden’s coach Rikard Gronborg said Kruger is making progress toward returning to the lineup.
Villa Pokke. The final Chicago Blackhawks player to mention is Villa Pokke, who is representing Team Finland. The youngster has appeared in both warm-up games against Team Sweden, but he hasn’t made much of a splash. Considering Pokke is not very likely to play much for the Hawks this season, I’m not too concerned.
Stay tuned, my friends! Team USA and Team Finland suit up tonight. And on Wednesday, the other six teams in the World Cup will compete in their last practice game. The tournament begins in earnest this coming Saturday, September 17th. All games will air on either ESPN or ESPN2. What kind of waves will our Chicago Blackhawks players make?