Friday, September 03, 2004

Kiprusoff perfect again, as is Finland

Finland continued on its roll at the World Cup of Hockey, as they handed the Germans a 3-0 loss, claiming home ice advantage for the quarter finals next week.

Miikaa Kiprusoff continued with his extraordinary play in the nets, collecting his second shutout in as many games. In front of him the Finnish forwards kept the pressure on the Germans breaking down their 1-4 approach to hockey, putting the puck into the German end and getting their fair share of opportunities to score. Olaf Kolzig once again held his own, but with a team still getting its feet wet in International hockey the skill level of the Finns eventually dictated the flow of the play.

Scoring for Finland were Kimmo Timonen, Teemu Selanne and Jere Lehtinen, Finland made up primarily of NHL caliber players should be considered a favourite with the Swedes to make the trip across the ocean to North America for the playoff phase of the Tournament. The two arch rivals will meet in Helsinki on Saturday in a much anticipated match up by long time foes. When the tournament began earlier this week the Swedes and Finns were expected to be the most likely candidates to be traveling to the finals in North America. Their play thus far shouldn’t change anybody’s mind too quickly.

Germany will take on the Czech Republic, both teams have yet to win a game in the tournament and while on paper it should be a walk over for the Czechs, what happens on the ice may dictate otherwise. The Czech Republic has not looked very good or even very interested in this tournament thus far, if the Germans can continue to give the effort they have of late they may steal one from the Czechs. Very much still a work in progress, the German team is making more use of its homegrown players from the German league, adding the one or two NHLers who represent German Hockey in the big leagues.

The key for Germany will be goaltending, if Olaf Kolzig can hold the tide back, his forwards may sneak in a goal past some suspect goaltending. The Czechs who so far have disappointed most everyone at this tournament have a chance to regain some pride and show that they aren’t quite finished yet.

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