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World Championship Tournament Primer

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning

Just days before the 2012 IIHF World Championship kicks off on May 4 in Finland and Sweden, the two countries who met in last year's gold-medal game, the rosters for each team were officially released. As is the case every year, many of the NHL's biggest stars dot the national-team lineups.

While Belarus, Italy, Kazakhstan, and Norway will not feature a single player currently on an NHL roster, the remaining 12 countries have at least some NHL representation. Surprisingly, the defending champion and top-ranked Finns are not among the more star-studded teams. They will have Kari Lehtonen of the Dallas Stars in goal but won't feature a single NHL player on their blue line. Up front, they'll rely on team captain Mikko Koivu (Minnesota) and forward Jussi Jokinen (Carolina). Top prospect Mikael Granlund, who starred for the Finns last year, is also on the roster.

Sweden, last year's runner-up, will be Red Wings-heavy with Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, and Jonathan Ericsson on the roster. The Swedes also have some of the NHL's top young talent in Loui Eriksson (Stars), Gabriel Landeskog (Avalanche), Victor Hedman (Lightning) and Viktor Stalberg (Blackhawks). After being led last year by Swedish Elite League goaltender Viktor Fasth, the Swedes will rely on Buffalo's Jhonas Enroth this year.

Team USA and Canada will be made up almost entirely of NHL talent. Considering both teams bowed out in the quarterfinals last year, the key will be for Canadian coach Brent Sutter and American coach Scott Gordon to make that talent gel. The Americans will rely on goaltender Jimmy Howard (Red Wings) and veteran defensemen Jack Johnson (Blue Jackets) and Alex Goligoski (Stars), as well as youngsters Cam Fowler (Ducks) and Justin Faulk (Hurricanes). Up front, the United States will be led by 30-goal scorers Bobby Ryan (Ducks) and Max Pacioretty (Canadiens) as well as center Paul Stastny (Avalanche), who starred for the USA at the 2007 tournament.

Like year's past, Canada will feature a number of NHL All-Stars, including goaltender Cam Ward ('Canes), defenseman Duncan Keith (Blackhawks) and Dion Phaneuf (Maple Leafs), and forwards Jamie Benn (Stars), Jordan Eberle (Oilers), Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry (Ducks), Jeff Skinner (Hurricanes) and John Tavares (Islanders) -- who led Team Canada in scoring last year. The key for Canada could be Ward, who went 5-0 with a 2.20 goals against average in leading Canada to the 2007 championship. The following year, he went 4-1 as Canada finished second behind Russia.

In the highest-scoring bronze-medal game in tournament history, the Czechs topped Russia 7-4 last year. While a number of players from that game, including Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Alex Ovechkin, will not be participating, the Czechs and Russians still feature standout NHL talent. The Czechs will be led by David Krejci (Bruins), Michael Frolik (Blackhawks), Ales Hemsky (Oilers), Tomas Plekanec (Canadiens) and Jiri Tlusty (Hurricanes). The Russians, meanwhile, will be led by two of the world's best players in Evgeni Malkin (Penguins) and Pavel Datsyuk (Red Wings). With Semyon Varlamov (Avalanche) in net and NHLers Alexander Burmistrov (Jets) and Nikolai Kulemin (Maple Leafs) as well as top prospect Evgeni Kuznetsov up front, Russia will look to improve on last year's fourth-place finish.

Though it's the birthplace of some of the world's finest players, Slovakia will only feature two NHL players in Tomas Kopecky (Panthers) and Andrej Sekera (Sabres). Florida's Marcel Goc will play for Germany; Denmark will have Jannik Hansen (Canucks), Philip Larsen (Stars), Frans Nielsen (Islanders) and Lars Eller (Canadiens), while defensemen Luca Sbisa (Ducks) and Mark Streit (Islanders) will play for Switzerland.


The 16 teams are divided into two groups for the Preliminary Round:

Finland Russia
Canada Sweden
USA Czech Republic
Switzerland Germany
Slovakia Norway
Belarus Latvia
France Denmark
Kazakhstan Italy


Note: First time CET (Stockholm time), second EET (Helsinki time)

Preliminary Round

Date Game Time City Home Team Away Team
Fri, May 4 1 11:15/12:15 Helsinki USA vs. France
Fri, May 4 2 12:15/13:15 Stockholm German vs. Italy
Fri, May 4 3 15:15/16:15 Helsinki Canada vs. Slovakia
Fri, May 4 4 16:15/17:15 Stockholm Czech Rep. vs. Denmark
Fri, May 4 5 19:15/20:15 Helsinki Belarus vs. Finland
Fri, May 4 6 20:15/21:15 Stockholm Sweden vs. Norway
Sat, May 5 7 14:00/15:00 Helsinki Switzerland vs. Kazakhstan
Sat, May 5 8 16:15/17:15 Stockholm Latvia vs. Russia
Sat, May 5 9 18:00/19:00 Helsinki Canada vs. USA
Sat, May 5 10 20:15/21:15 Stockholm Sweden vs. Czech Rep.
Sun, May 6 11 11:15/12:15 Helsinki France vs. Kazakhstan
Sun, May 6 12 12:15/13:15 Stockholm Denmark vs. Italy
Sun, May 6 13 15:15/16:15 Helsinki Finland vs. Slovakia
Sun, May 6 14 16:15/17:15 Stockholm Russia vs. Norway
Sun, May 6 15 19:15/20:15 Helsinki Switzerland vs. Belarus
Sun, May 6 16 20:15/21:15 Stockholm Germany vs. Latvia
Mon, May 7 17 15:15/16:15 Helsinki France vs. Canada
Mon, May 7 18 16:15/17:15 Stockholm Czech Rep. vs. Norway
Mon, May 7 19 19:15/20:15 Helsinki USA vs. Slovakia
Mon, May 7 20 20:15/21:15 Stockholm Denmark vs. Sweden
Tue, May 8 21 15:15/16:15 Helsinki Belarus vs. Kazakhstan
Tue, May 8 22 16:15/17:15 Stockholm Latvia vs. Italy
Tue, May 8 23 19:15/20:15 Helsinki Finland vs. Switzerland
Tue, May 8 24 20:15/21:15 Stockholm Russia vs. Germany
Wed, May 9 25 15:15/16:15 Helsinki Slovakia vs. Kazakhstan
Wed, May 9 26 16:15/17:15 Stockholm Norway vs. Italy
Wed, May 9 27 19:15/20:15 Helsinki Canada vs. Switzerland
Wed, May 9 28 20:15/21:15 Stockholm Sweden vs. Germany
Thu, May 10 29 15:15/16:15 Helsinki USA vs. Belarus
Thu, May 10 30 16:15/17:15 Stockholm Denmark vs. Russia
Thu, May 10 31 19:15/20:15 Helsinki France vs. Finland
Thu, May 10 32 20:15/21:15 Stockholm Czech Rep. vs. Latvia
Fri, May 11 33 15:15/16:15 Helsinki Kazakhstan vs. USA
Fri, May 11 34 16:15/17:15 Stockholm Italy vs. Czech Rep.
Fri, May 11 35 19:15/20:15 Helsinki Finland vs. Canada
Fri, May 11 36 20:15/21:15 Stockholm Russia vs. Sweden
Sat, May 12 37 11:15/12:15 Helsinki Slovakia vs. Belarus
Sat, May 12 38 12:15/13:15 Stockholm Norway vs. Latvia
Sat, May 12 39 15:15/16:15 Helsinki Switzerland vs. France
Sat, May 12 40 16:15/17:15 Stockholm Germany vs. Denmark
Sat, May 12 41 19:15/20:15 Helsinki Kazakhstan vs. Canada
Sat, May 12 42 20:15/21:15 Stockholm Italy vs. Sweden
Sun, May 13 43 15:15/16:15 Helsinki Finland vs. USA
Sun, May 13 44 16:15/17:15 Stockholm Russia vs. Czech Rep.
Sun, May 13 45 19:15/20:15 Helsinki Sitzerland vs. Slovakia
Sun, May 13 46 20:15/21:15 Stockholm Germany vs. Norway
Mon, May 14 47 15:15/16:15 Helsinki Belarus vs. France
Mon, May 14 48 16:15/17:15 Stockholm Latvia vs. Denmark
Mon, May 14 49 19:15/20:15 Helsinki Kazakhstan vs. Finland
Mon, May 14 50 20:15/21:15 Stockholm Italy vs. Russia
Tue, May 15 51 11:15/12:15 Helsinki Canada vs. Belarus
Tue, May 15 52 12:15/13:15 Stockholm Norway vs. Denmark
Tue, May 15 53 15:15/16:15 Helsinki Slovakia vs. France
Tue, May 15 54 16:15/17:15 Stockholm Czech Rep. vs. Germany
Tue, May 15 55 19:15/20:15 Helsinki USA vs. Switzerland
Tue, May 15 56 20:15/21:15 Stockholm Sweden vs. Latvia


Date Game Time City
Thu, May 17 57 12:00/13:00 Helsinki
Thu, May 17 58 14:45/15:45 Stockholm
Thu, May 17 59 17:30/18:30 Helsinki
Thu, May 17 60 20:15/21:15 Stockholm
Quarter-finals: Helsinki: (1H-4H) & (2H-3H); Stockholm: (1S-4S) & (2S-3S).
If qualified for the quarter-finals, Finland will play the evening game (59) in Helsinki.
If qualified for the quarter-finals, Sweden will play the evening game (60) in Stockholm.


Date Game Time City
SAT, May 19 61 13:30/14:30 Helsinki
SAT, May 19 62 17:30/18:30 Helsinki
Semi-Finals: Helsinki: W(1H-4H) - W(2S-3S) & W(1S-4S) - W(2H-3H).
If qualified for the semi-finals, Finland will play the early game.
If Finland is not qualified for the semi-finals but Sweden is, then Sweden will play the early game.
Should Finland and Sweden play each other in the semi-finals, then the teams would play the early game.


Date Game Time City
SUN, May 20 63 15:00/16:00 Helsinki


Date Game Time City
SUN, May 20 64 19:30/20:30 Helsinki

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