The IIHF World Hockey Championships head into their final weekend….and the United States is done. Hanifin and Co. were knocked out with an invisible offensive performance in a 2-0 loss to Finland. Still Hanifin was the best defenseman on the US team (more on that below) and six Hurricanes are still active going into the final four games. Better still, is that East Coast hockey fans get quality morning hockey this weekend. On the whole, this week was less prolific as last week for our worldly Hurricanes, but most of them, especially Sebastian Aho, still played very well. Without any more blabbering, here is the 2nd Canes and Coffee International Caniac Power Rankings
1. Jeff Skinner
4 Goals – 5 Assists – 9 Points in 8 Games
Skinner slowed down a bit on the scoring surge, but he still sits third on Team Canada in scoring, and contributed a goal to Canada’s 3-1 win over Germany in the quarterfinals. Here’s the really funny part. Skinner actually does lead all IIHF skaters in one category….penalty minutes. That’s not normal. We all know Skinner is a masterful smack talker but they don’t typically give you 5 minute majors for that. No Skinner got a game misconduct for this light little poke at the puck…that was tucked into the chest of French goalie Florian Hardy. Was it worth a game misconduct or was it some rather biased referees? See for yourself.
— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) May 18, 2017
2. Sebastian Aho
2 Goals – 7 Assists – 9 Points in 8 Games
Aho continues to lead the Finnish team in scoring, and he centered a line, with Mikko Rantanen and Jesse Puljiarvi, which relentlessly attacked a punchless USA team in the quarterfinals, en route to a 2-0 win. Aho assisted Rantanen on the first goal, well into the second period of the game, breaking what had been a very good goalie duel between Jimmy Howard and Harri Sateri. It might be the wider international ice, but Aho’s exquisite passing skills are on full display right now. He has been facilitating some outstanding puck movement for a Finnish team that was projected to be far weaker than years past, and leads all Finnish forwards averaging 19:10 of ice time a game. He has clearly been Finland’s best player in the tournament.
The only good thing about this USA v Finland game is the announcers constant praise for Sebastian Aho.
— Micah Hirshman (@MHirsh21) May 18, 2017
3. Elias Lindholm
5 Goals – 2 Assists- 7 Points in 8 Games
The Sweden Hurricanes are no more. To clarify, Sweden won their quarterfinal match vs. Switzerland, and are still a favorite to take on Canada for the gold medal, but the 3 Hurricanes forwards skating for Sweden had a much quieter week. Much of that had to do with the arrival of Nicklas Backstrom following the Caps playoff exit, as well as the emergence of Sweden’s star William Nylander. Of the Swedish Canes, Lindholm had the best week. He scored 2 goals and 2 assists over the last week but has been silent over the last three games. They take on rival Finland on Saturday, so we’ll see if the Swedish coach decides to let Lindholm show off his exceptional two way skills on his Hurricanes teammate Sebastian Aho.
4. Noah Hanifin
0 Goals – 2 Assist – 2 Point in 8 Games
The United States should probably re-evaluate their international hockey strategy. Much like their World Cup entry last year, the US couldn’t score goals, and got shut out by Finland in the quarterfinals. None of this was Noah Hanifin’s fault. Playing on the first pairing with Connor Murphy, Hanifin led all US skaters, averaging 20:35 of ice time for the tournament. Hanifin’s 2 assists were modest, but the defensive impact he had on the game was not. Hanifin made several noteworthy plays against Finland and was not on the ice for either of the Finnish goals. While the rest of the US team played sloppy and undisciplined hockey, Hanifin (along with Connor Murphy) were a definite bright spot for the team. And Hanifin’s phone calls from France were definitely a bright spot for the Hurricanes media department too.
— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) May 15, 2017
5. Victor Rask
2 Goal – 5 Assists – 7 Points in 8 Games
Rask lost the most ice time, with the Backstrom arrival. After playing well over 17 minutes a game early in the tournament, Rask logged just 14 in the quarterfinal against Switzerland. He, Lindholm and Landeskog still are tabbed as Sweden’s official ‘1st line’ but at this point the Lindberg-Backstrom-Nylander line has taken over the mantle both in ice time and production. There are no more Italy’s on the schedule for Rask and Lindholm to pile up points on. Rask and Lindholm each had invisible stretches during the NHL regular season, but they must pick up the play if they want to see gold on Sunday
6. Joakim Nordstrom
0 Goals – 2 Assist- 2 Point in 7 Games
Same old, same old for Nordstrom. He picked up an assist. He’s still in his normal 4th line role, and I didn’t notice him once in the Sweden games I saw last week. Good for him getting consistent ice time with the national team. Guys like Nordstrom don’t always get their chance to represent international hockey powerhouses like Sweden in the World Championships and I hope he’s enjoying every second of his well-deserved opportunity.
7. Eddie Lack
1-0, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 Sv Pct
Hey! Eddie Lack got to play a game! Sweden was so grateful after Lack pitched a 19-save shutout against Latvia, that they went out and threw a welcoming party for Henrik Lundqvist after the Rangers got bounced. Okay, so Lundqvist is obviously better than Lack, and honestly that’s okay. In his first ever international opportunity, Lack has an unblemished goaltending record. If he never plays another game, he can technically say he was the best international goaltender in Swedish history.
Dream come true wearing Sweden’s colours. Thank you for the support!! pic.twitter.com/zL7n7Eju03
— Eddie Lack?? (@eddielack) May 11, 2017
— Jimmy Wixtrom (@jimmywixtrom) May 11, 2017
IIHF World Championships Medal Round Schedule (In Eastern Time)
So as we mentioned, we’re down to two days and four games left in the tournament. Since the games are in France, Hurricanes fans rejoice! We have important hockey to watch on a Saturday morning! For your records:
Canada plays Russia in the first semifinal at 9:15AM ET on Saturday. (if I have my time conversion right)
Sweden plays Finland in the second semi at 1:15PM ET on Saturday.
The Bronze Medal Game and Gold Medal Game will both take place on Sunday at 10:15 AM and 2:45 PM respectively
All games will be available for streaming on NBCSports.com, so pour yourself some cereal, crank that AC all you Raleigh-ites, and enjoy your last time to watch Skinner, Aho, Lindholm, Rask and Nordstrom this summer. Sorry, Hanifin fans, your countdown to October has already begun.