The preliminary round of the 2014 IIHF U18 World Championship is over and the playoff match-ups are set. Despite the odd surprise performances to start off the tournament, the teams have finished off group play in a manner conducive with most expectations coming in. Take a look at who’s up against whom in the playoffs and who you should expect to move on to the next round.
In the 2013-14 season regular season, the WHL featured a talented variety of wingers that are currently NHL prospects. The focus of this article is on the those WHL wingers that are currently property of a National Hockey League team, six of whom have signed NHL contracts. Our ranking consists of seven Canadians and three imports. Seven toiled in the WHL’s Western Conference, and our ranking contains a couple sets of teammates.
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.