OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC -- The second day of competition at the 2015 IIHF World Championship featured six close games, including two shootouts and a noteworthy upset. Here's what you need to know:
- Andrej Meszaros and Slovakia went back and forth with Denmark and needed six rounds in the shootout before winning 4-3 thanks to Marko Dano's game winning shot.
- What's most interesting about Denmark - besides the fact that they have two players named Jesper Jensen, one a defenseman and the other a forward - is that there's been a change of attitude in the Danish program and it came to a head at the 2012 World Junior Championship in Alberta.
One day late in the preliminary round, the Danish players were waiting to board the team bus near the media area and decided to have a little fun staging their own press conference and interviewing each other about their experiences at the tournament. The boys were laughing and having fun talking about going up against the best players and that they were happy to be there and have the opportunity to be on the same ice as those players, etc. From the media perspective, we ate it up. The opportunity to see these guys showing their personalities without inhibition and how much love they had for the game was outstanding, but their coach was not happy and benched all players involved in their final game against Finland, dressing only 15 skaters. They'd later lose in the relegation round and were sent down to Division I, but the message was received loud and clear. You saw that at this year's WJC - the first that Denmark's been back since being sent down - when the players had it on repeat that they were not here to just have fun, but that they wanted to win. To their credit, they made it to the quarterfinals where they ended up losing to the eventual champions, Canada. And, you're seeing it now at the Men's World Championship with this Danish team that features three players from that 2012 WJC team.
In this opening game, they gave Slovakia everything they had. They opened the scoring with a power play goal, Slovakia took the 2-1 lead, Denmark fought back to tie the game, Slovakia took the lead again, Denmark fought back again. This time, with 2:14 left in regulation and seconds after a power play expired to force overtime. Ranked 15th out of 16 teams here, they might not win a game at this tournament, but they're going to make it as hard as possible for any other team to get those points.
- In another game filled with huge momentum swings, Michael Raffl scored for Austria with 50 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at three and force overtime against Switzerland. This one would also go to a shootout, with Austria grabbing the extra point and a 4-3 win.
- After the game, Raffl said their goal, as the 16th team to qualify for this tournament, is to stay at this level and not be sent down to Division I. Austria has been riding that elevator for years and they're tired of it and want to earn a spot to stay in the Top Division. This win could go a long way to accomplishing that goal.
- Belarus defeated Slovenia, 4-2, in another close game in Ostrava that came down to the wire with Slovenia attacking on a power play in the final minute of the game before Belarus tacked on a shorthanded empty-net goal.
- In Prague, France and Germany battled it out in what looked like another game that was headed for bonus hockey until a hooking penalty gave Germany a power play with 1:12 left in regulation. They capitalized 12 seconds later and took all three points and the 2-1 win.
- USA defeated Norway 2-1 in a game that was much closer than anticipated, but after a 6-2 beating by the Russians, you knew the Nords would come out strong and that's exactly what they did. USA might not have been prepared for it in the first period, but thanks to another strong performance by Connor Hellebuyck in net, they managed to weather the storm, get back to their game and earn the win.
- Midway through the third period, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen hit Steve Moses high and sent him flying into the boards. There was no penalty on the play, but Moses would leave the game and not return. He is being evaluated by team doctors.
- USA head coach Todd Richards felt this was a much better game for the younger guys on the team, especially Jack Eichel. He thought he looked much more comfortable with the puck and generated a lot more scoring chances than in their first game against Finland.
- After seven days in a row either practicing or playing, USA has a complete day off the ice Sunday, but will still have team meetings and video sessions as they prepare for their game on Monday against Russia.
- Czech Republic took advantage of special teams opportunities scoring three power play goals to defeat Latvia 4-2 in front of another sold-out crowd at O2 Arena in Prague. Jaromir Jagr scored the go ahead goal in the second period for the Czech's first lead of the game and I'm pretty sure we heard the cheers all the way in Ostrava…or maybe that was just the hundreds of fans watching on the big screen in the Fan Zone outside CZE Arena. Either way, a good win for the home team.
- For Canada, it is was Team Picture Day. Afterward, they worked on controlling the puck better in traffic through the neutral zone and on their power play - two things head coach Todd McLellan has not been thrilled with.
- With the level of talent on this team, the players are committed to bringing home a medal - something they haven't done since 2009 when they earned silver. In fact, they haven't even played for a medal since then, failing to make it past the quarterfinals. In talking with the players, seemingly everyone mentions it saying the Canadian fans deserve better than that. They all know this team is capable of winning gold and feel that anything less would be a disappointment.
- Fresh off their 6-5 shootout win over Czech Republic, Sweden also used their practice day to work on the basics. They know they have an effective power play, but they don't want to have to rely on needing that opportunity. They want to be better 5-on-5 and worked on keeping their feet moving and using their speed through the neutral zone to make the oppositions' heads spin.
On Sunday, we've got another six-pack of games: In Prague, Austria will take on Sweden at 6:15 a.m. ET. Tyler Ennis and Canada will take on Germany at 10:15 a.m. ET. France and Switzerland, both coming off tough losses, will face-off in the late game at 2:15 p.m. ET.
In Ostrava, the day starts with Russia and Slovenia at 6:15 a.m. ET, followed by Belarus taking on Andrej Meszaros and Slovakia at 10:15 a.m. ET. Denmark and Finland close the day at 2:15 p.m. ET.