• Submit a Question for Chris Kreider
• Staal Responds to Fans' Questions
• Chad Johnson's Exclusive Journal
• Matt Gilroy's Exclusive Journal
Prior to Wednesday's game against Switzerland at the IIHF World Championship tournament in Mannheim, Germany, members of Team Canada already knew they had clinched a berth in the tournament's Qualification Round.
Since the Canadians had only 19 skaters available due to an injury to team captain Ryan Smyth, it was a good thing they didn't need a win against the Swiss, who skated off with a 4-1 victory to finish first overall in Group B.
Team Canada, whose General Manager is Rangers legend Mark Messier, now a Special Assistant to Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather, placed second in Group B and moved on to the next round, where they open play on Friday.
The big hero for Switzerland was goaltender Tobias Stephan, who stopped 31 shots on a night when Canada outshot his nation by a 32-18 margin. Chris Mason of the St. Louis Blues took the loss in goal for Canada. His backup for the game was Rangers prospect Chad Johnson
, who played five games for the Blueshirts in 2009-10.
Two Rangers defensemen skated for the Canadians on Wednesday. Marc Staal
saw 10:57 of ice time and had two shots on goal with a minus-1 rating. Michael Del Zotto
skated 10:39 with no shots on goal and was even for the game.
Prior to Thursday, no Swiss team had ever beaten Canada at the World Championship. Canadians had won 22 of 24 games, tying the other two. Switzerland had never scored more than three goals in a game against Canada, but the remarkable line of Ivo Ruthemann, Martin Pluss and Thomas Deruns accounted for three goals by itself.
Andres Ambuhl, who signed a Rangers contract last summer and played for the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack in 2009-10, had the other goal for Switzerland.
John Tavares of the Islanders notched Canada's only goal at 14:29 of the second period, just 26 seconds after Pluss, a 33-year-old veteran winger with SC Bern of the Swiss league, had given Switzerland a 2-0 lead with the eventual game-winning goal.
Switzerland scored the game's first goal at 11:47 of the first period when Ruthemann, who also plays for SC Bern, scored off assists from Deruns and Pluss.
The Swiss came right back to make it 2-0 just over two minutes later at 14:03 on the Pluss goal, with the assists going to Deruns and Ruthemann. Canada responded almost immediately, however, as Tavares notched his third goal of the tournament off assists from Matt Duchene and Ray Whitney.
The first period ended with the Swiss up 2-1, even though Canada had outshot them 14-6. Switzerland made it 3-1 at 1:38 of the first period when Ambuhl scored his first goal of the tournament.
Canada had outshot the Swiss 23-11 through two periods, but managed to put only one shot past the remarkable Stephan, a former Dallas prospect who spent the past season in Switzerland after a 10-game stint with the Stars in 2008-09.
The Swiss continued to run away from Canada in the third period, as Deruns scored from Pluss at 5:29 to make it 4-1.