PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC – There are four Maple Leafs are currently taking part in this year’s World Hockey Championship. They’ve all made a contribution in some form or fashion. A fifth joins his team on Wednesday.
Leo Komarov, Finland
Gardiner didn’t get to go up against his teammate in his opening game, due to the fact that Komarov was not in the lineup for undisclosed reasons. Leo has since dressed for Finland’s last two games against Denmark and Norway. In the game against the Norwegians, Komarov registered his first point of the tournament, an assist. Aside from the points, Komarov was up to his usual pesky ways of getting under the skin of the opposition. It’s been the kind of play that shows why he’s among one of the more popular forwards among Leafs Nation.
Richard Panik, Slovakia
Panik’s involvement at the Worlds has gone a little under the radar, but he’s been producing well at this tournament. Slovakia is in Group ‘B’ which plays in Ostrava, a border town in the Czech Republic. The close proximity was done intentionally to make Slovakia feel like a cohosting nation of this tournament. Panik has one assist and his team hasn’t lost a game yet, winning one game in regulation (three points) and two games in overtime/shootout (two points).
Joakim Lindstrom, Sweden
Acquired in a trade at the deadline, Lindstrom has the most amount of points among any Leaf at this year’s tournament (one goal, one assist). Lindstrom’s role has been a big one, averaging over 16 minutes per game and playing with top flight talent. Sweden is also undefeated for the tournament and sits just one point back of Canada who have won all three of their games in regulation time.
Petter Granberg, Sweden
The Leafs prospect was added to Sweden’s roster following the Toronto Marlies’ playoff campaign, which ended on Sunday. He will make his debut for the Swedes on Wednesday when they take on Canada.
Jake Gardiner, USA
The Maple Leafs defenceman was in the lineup for the opening games in which the United States defeated Finland and Norway. Gardiner was subbed out of the lineup for the American’s last game against Russia, but Gardiner’s contributions have helped the Americans to first in Group ‘B’ over in Ostrava.
Pride on the line
This year’s World Hockey Championships are a little different than some others. This tournament is actually the first round of qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. The eight teams that make it to the quarterfinal round will be given an automatic berth into the Olympics. While NHL involvement for those games have yet to be determined, there is still a pride that comes with the Worlds, which is why you saw some surprise names choose to take part when maybe you expected they would take the time off.
This tournament is a big deal here in Czech Republic. The pace of the action is fast and the crowds are very loud and boisterous.
The tournament has only begun, lots of hockey left to play.