As the host team for the 2014 World Junior Championship, Sweden has so far avoided the trap of being a highly-favored host that suffers an ignominious defeat at the hands of a weaker opponent. But the stakes get a little higher for the Swedes with the end of the preliminary round and the start of the playoff round, which sees them facing plucky Slovakia in their quarterfinal match.
Slovakia had a bit of a rollercoaster ride at the 2013 WJC in Ufa. After a near miss, 3-2 loss to host Russia in the opener, the Slovaks managed to drive Canada crazy with 2-0 and 3-1 leads heading towards the midway mark of the game before ultimately succumbing, 6-3. The team then had more trouble with Germany than it probably should have, tying the game late and winning 2-1 in overtime. This was followed by a 9-3 trouncing at the hands of the USA. The team then won a hard-fought victory over Latvia 5-3 to avoid relegation before getting blown away 11-4 by Finland in a game that had no bearing on the standings for either team.
The number of players drafted out of the KHL at the 2013 NHL Draft wasn’t large, but confirmations and surprises were there as always in each NHL Draft. The scarce number of players coming out of the top Russian league is due not only to the infamous “Russian Factor”, but also to the fact that many junior players are now playing in the CHL, something that wasn’t happening as often until recent years.
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