Someone from the Detroit Red Wings is certain to leave the World Championship with a medal.
Thursday’s quarterfinals, split between arenas in Tampere, Finland and Riga, Latvia, the two hosts of the 2023 tournament, feature the usual hockey powerhouses and multiple high achievers. The U.S. takes on Czechia and Canada battles Finland in action in Nokia Arena, while Germany faces Switzerland and Sweden plays Latvia at Riga Arena.
The winners advance to Saturday’s semifinals. The semifinal winners will meet to settle the gold and silver medals on Sunday, the same day as the semifinal losers will meet for the bronze medal.
Spread across the national teams are several members of the Wings organization: Prospect Carter Mazur and head coach Derek Lalonde with the U.S.; forwards Lucas Raymond and Jonatan Berggren with Sweden; defenseman Moritz Seider with Germany; forward Dominik Kubalik with Czechia, and defenseman Olli Määttä with Finland. General manager Steve Yzerman is an assistant GM with Canada, which is without forward Joe Veleno because he was handed a tournament-ending five-game suspension on May 21 for kicking a player during the previous day’s game.
Let’s take a look at the matchups:
The U.S. began the tournament on May 12 with a convincing 4-1 victory over host Finland, scoring four straight goals, one of which Mazur had a hand in setting up. Next came a rout over Hungary and a well-played 3-2 victory over Germany. The U.S. cruised past Austria, Denmark and France, outscoring them by a combined 16-1. The toughest preliminary round match was the last one, but Mazur set up the clinching goal in a 4-3 overtime victory over Sweden. All said and done, the U.S. finished with seven wins in as many attempts in the preliminary round.
Get Carter: Detroit Red Wings’ Carter Mazur assists on OT goal as U.S. downs Sweden at Worlds
The Czechs played in the weaker Group B (Russia has been banned from the tournament over the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, leaving Czechia and Canada as the only traditional powerhouses in the group) but only managed to finish in fourth place, losing to Canada, Latvia and Switzerland.
Prediction: Mazur will be playing on the weekend.
The Swiss have been the talk of the tournament, starting 6-0 before falling to Latvia in overtime in the last game of the preliminary round. The winning streak included victories over Canada (3-2) and Czechia (4-2) on consecutive days. The Germans were beaten by the Swedes, Finns, and Americans to start the tournament, but rose from the bottom of Group A standings after beating four straight underdogs in Denmark, Austria, Hungary and France.
Prediction: Seider’s tournament ends when Switzerland neutralizes Germany.
More: Detroit Red Wings’ Moritz Seider scores for Germany
The defending champions Finns haven’t had a dominant tournament, but they are playing at home and roll into the quarters with four straight victories. “It’s going be a different kind of beast with the Canadians coming in,” Määttä told the IIHF website. “It’s going to be a great match up and everybody’s going to be excited for it. Canada’s a big physical team and they can score. I think they’ve been really good defensively too. We have to match that, but it’s all about us. We’ve shown that when we play our best game we can beat anyone.”
Prediction: Leijonat keeps the dream alive of being repeat champions and Määttä helps sends Canada home.
Sweden finished the preliminary round with five wins, one shootout win and one loss in overtime, which left them only two points behind the U.S. The Swedes are powered by NHL players and high-end prospects. The Latvians’ confidence comes from having defeated Czechia and Switzerland (both in overtime) and from playing in front of what undoubtedly will be a highly energetic home crowd.
Prediction: The Swedes are too talented not to advance.
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.
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Her latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.
Feeling a draft
What: 2023 NHL draft.
When/where: June 28-29; Nashville, Tennessee.
The Red Wings’ picks (with overall picks in parentheses): Round 1 — No. 9 (9), No. 17 (17); Round 2 — No. 8 (41), No. 9 (42), No. 10 (43); Round 3 — No. 9 (73); Round 4 — No. 22 (118); Round 5 — No. 9 (137); Round 6 — No. 9 (169); Round 7 — No. 9 (201).