September 03, 2016

World Cup of Hockey Preview: Europe

The 2016 World Cup of Hockey features two gimmicky teams - the Under-23 North American squad, and Team Europe, featuring players from all over the continent outside of Sweden, Finland, Russia and the Czech Republic.

Unlike the young guns from North America, the mish-mash European team has little chance of success in Toronto.

This European conglomerate features players from Slovakia, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Slovenia and France.

Chemistry is a huge issue, as most of these players did not grow up playing together, or playing the same systems as their new teammates. They will somehow have to gel together quickly if they have any hope to compete.

The team does not have a lot of offense to begin with, with Anze Kopitar and Marian Hossa leading the way. But they, like all the forwards, will be expected to play down-low supporting an aging blueline. On average the rearguards are 30 years old, with Mark Streit and Zdeno Chara pushing 40. They will need to be sheltered by responsible forwards.

One of the goaltenders -  Frederik Anderson, Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak - will have to establish themselves as surprise right away.

This team will likely go as far as Anze Kopitar and Marian Hossa can take them. Given that they will have to be playing deep in their own zone much of the tournament, that is probably not far.

The team will have to hope for a hot goaltender and the simplest of game plans - which is actually never a bad idea at such short tournaments. Stay out of the penalty box, get the puck on net, get traffic to the net....all the basics that every hockey coach teaches from an early age, regardless if what country they are from.

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