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World Cup Diary: Blake Wheeler

by Blake Wheeler - Special to NHL.com / Winnipeg Jets



In this installment, Wheeler talks about relaxing on his day off, Team USA's next challenge in facing Team Finland at Verizon Center on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, SN1, TVA Sports).

WASHINGTON -- We landed in Washington, D.C., late Sunday afternoon and had the rest of the day off. I was able to relax and watch some of the football games that were on. It was nice to get some rest after two tough pretournament games, but I think me and the rest of the guys are excited to ramp things up and get to the real thing.

For now, we are doing our best to get ready for the start of the World Cup.

Playing Team Canada was tough but Team Finland will be a totally different challenge. They play really hard and they always have great goaltending. They also are a very tough defensive team. I think it will be a good challenge to really help us get ready for the tournament. It's the last game before the World Cup starts Saturday, so it should be tough. Guys want to get ready for the real thing and it's going to be here in just a couple days.

Being in the nation's capital and representing the United States here is a really cool experience. It makes wearing red, white and blue that much more special. It gives it something extra.

There are a lot of cool things about D.C. that I haven't gotten to see yet. Hopefully I get a chance to explore a little bit. One of the things we get to do as a team is visit the Quantico Marine Base in Quantico, Virginia. We'll get to meet some of the men and women who defend our freedom and see how hard they have to work every day.

Training for hockey is hard, but it's probably not close to what members of the military have to do every day. It's going to be cool to learn about that.

I haven't been able to watch many pretournament games, but I've seen highlights of a lot of them. It's not just Team USA vs. Team Canada games that are intense. All of the games are really competitive, even though most of us haven't played real hockey for a couple of months.

The guys who get to play in the World Cup will probably have a bit of a leg up when the NHL season starts. These games are fast and intense. We should be in pretty good shape by the time the tournament is over. And that's a good thing because most of us will completely miss our NHL teams' training camp and preseason.

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