The world championships begin today, with Team USA taking on Germany. In lieu of watching your team in the playoffs, the world championships are the only place to see your favorites play, and the Buffalo Sabres have four players participating, with one hopefully-future player participating as well.
Jack Eichel and Cal Petersen are playing for Team USA, Ryan O’Reilly is wearing an A (or is it an “eh”?) for Team Canada, and Zemgus Girgensons is reprising his role as the hero of Team Latvia. All three forwards have prominent, top-line roles for their respective teams (though O’Reilly is playing on the wing) but Petersen is serving as third goalie on Team USA and likely won’t see too much action.
Sabres fans will also want to keep an eye on Viktor Antipin, who is playing on the blue line for Team Russia. Most people in the know expect Antipin to sign with Buffalo after the tournament concludes.
You can read a full list of all team’s rosters on the IIHF website.
What’s the format?
There are 16 teams participating, split in to two groups of eight. Group A (which has Team USA) will play in Cologne, Germany, and Group B in Paris, France, so if you live in the US, hopefully you like waking up early to get your hockey fix.
Group A consists of: Team USA, Russia, Sweden, Slovakia, Germany, Latvia, Denmark, and Italy
Group B consists of: Team Canada, Finland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Belarus, Norway, France, and Slovenia
The two groups will play a round robin with the other seven teams in their group, with the top four teams advancing to the playoffs, where they will face teams from the opposite group in a single elimination format. For example, the #1 seed in Group A will face the #4 seed in Group B, and so on.
Team USA isn’t quite as strong this year as previous years, with Eichel and Johnny Gaudreau as the only real scoring threats. Should the US get out of the group stage in the top 4, they’ll want to avoid finishing fourth at all costs, as it’d be a huge shocker if Canada didn’t finish first in the opposite group, thus setting up a lopsided first round playoff matchup.
How can I watch?
Here’s the TV schedule of the US games, all of which will be broadcast on either NHL Network or NBCSN (all times EST). If you get TSN, you can watch all of team Canada’s games there.
USA vs. Germany - Today, 2:15pm, NHL Network
USA vs. Denmark - Sunday 5/7, 10:15am, NHL Network
USA vs. Sweden - Monday 5/8, 2:15pm, NHL Network
USA vs. Italy - Wednesday 5/10, 10:15am, NBCSN
USA vs. Latvia - Saturday 5/13, 6:15am, NHL Network
USA vs. Slovakia - Sunday 5/14, 10:15am, NHL Network
USA vs. Russia - Tuesday 5/16, 10:15am, NBCSN
The playoffs will begin on Thursday May 18, round two will take place on Saturday May 20, and the championship and third place matches will happen on Sunday the 21st.
Happy hockey, everyone!