2020 WJC Recap: Preliminary Round, Group B

by Jokke Nevalainen on January 1, 2020

 

The preliminary round is now over, so let’s go through the performance of each team and their top performers. In this article, I’ll go through Group B which includes Canada, USA, Russia, Czech Republic and Germany.

 

There are no games in the tournament today. All four quarterfinal games will be played tomorrow, one after another, so it will be a great day of hockey-watching.

 

Canada

 

Canada finished at the top of Group B despite their devastating 6-0 loss to Russia. But they managed to win all other games which was good enough for nine points in the standings, and they’ll face Slovakia in the quarterfinals.

 

Canada’s leading scorers were Barrett Hayton (ARZ) and Dylan Cozens (BUF) who both had six points. Hayton is the Captain and he’s been playing a top-six center role in each game. He had that unfortunate incident where he didn’t remove his helmet during Russia’s national anthem but he apologized and hasn’t allowed it to affect his play. Cozens is a natural center but has been used at wing in this tournament, and his game is a good fit there as well.

 

Behind them, you have a few players with four points; Alexis Lafrenière (2020), Joe Veleno (DET), Nolan Foote (TBL) and Jared McIsaac (DET). Veleno got his points in just three games while Lafrenière got his in just two.

 

And after them, you have another few names with three points; Ty Smith (NJD), Calen Addison (PIT), Liam Foudy (CBJ) and Ty Dellandrea (DAL). Addison plays on the top power play unit whereas Smith has been used on the second unit. Foudy and Dellandrea have been used in more of a defensive role but that hasn’t stopped them from putting up some points as well.

 

Foote leads the team with 18 shots on goal, followed by Cozens with 11, and then Hayton and Foudy with 10 each. Foote and Hayton lead the team with three goals each. All three of Hayton’s goals are scored on the power play whereas two of Foote’s goals are scored on the power play.

 

Bowen Byram (COL) leads the team in average ice time with 19:12 per game. Despite the big minutes, including time on the power play, Byram has just one point (an assist) and one shot on goal. Byram is followed by Veleno and Jacob Bernard-Docker (OTT) who are both close to 19 minutes as well. JBD has no points so far. Smith is the only other player above 17 minutes. Canada has been spreading their ice time pretty evenly when possible.

 

One might be wondering where is Quinton Byfield (2020) in all of this – he has no points but he’s also only played 11:14 per game. And he’s been used at wing which is not his usual position. Jamie Drysdale (2020) will also be a high draft pick next summer but he also hasn’t been given much of a chance in this tournament – no points and just 9:54 of ice time per game. Lowest average ice time on the team belongs to Dawson Mercer (2020) with 7:12, so the youngest players on the team haven’t been allowed to play much.

 

Joel Hofer (STL) has a 0.917 save percentage and appears to be Canada’s number one goalie going forward.

 

USA

 

USA lost to Canada and needed overtime to get past the Czechs but that was good enough for second spot in this group which means they’ll face Finland in the quarterfinals. Team USA scored 17 goals and allowed 13, and those numbers are exactly the same as Canada’s.

 

Trevor Zegras (ANA) leads the team and the entire tournament with nine points. Last year, the leading scorer at the end of the tournament had nine points. All nine of Zegras’ points have been assists but they’ve all been primary assists, and many of them have been incredible passes. Zegras has averaged less than 13 minutes of ice time.

 

Shane Pinto (OTT) comes after Zegras with seven points, and Arthur Kaliyev (LAK) has six points. They both have four goals which leads the team. Pinto has played almost 18 minutes per game but Kaliyev is down to just 11:08.

 

Next up, Nicholas Robertson (TOR) and Oliver Wahlstrom (NYI) have five points. These two have spent the entire tournament at Pinto’s wings which is why they’ve also played about 18 minutes each. No one else on the team has more than two points.

 

Wahlstrom leads the team with 18 shots on goal. He is followed by Kaliyev, Robertson and Zac Jones (NYR) who all have 11 shots. Jones has been used as the only defenseman on the top power play unit.

 

Team Captain Mattias Samuelsson (BUF) leads the team with 19:11 of ice time per game. He is followed by K’Andre Miller (NYR) who is close to 19 minutes as well. At the other end, Cam York (PHI) has only played 6:10 per game, and most of that has come on the power play.

 

Spencer Knight (FLA) has a 0.895 save percentage, and even though that doesn’t look very promising, I doubt they would go with anyone else in goal.

 

Russia

 

Russia had a surprising loss against the Czechs and they lost to USA as well but their wins against Canada and Germany were enough for the third place in the group. That means they get to play against Switzerland in their quarterfinal match-up.

 

Russia’s leading scorer is Kirill Marchenko (CBJ) with six points. Marchenko exploded offensively in the game against Germany where he had two goals and three primary assists. He’s played a top-nine role with power play time.

 

Next up is Nikita Alexandrov (STL) who has five points. He’s been used at wing in this tournament and hasn’t really been as good as the numbers suggest but has showed some great flashes at times, so it’s just a matter of finding that consistency.

 

Grigori Denisenko (FLA), Alexander Khovanov (MIN), Alexander Romanov (MTL) and Dmitri Voronkov (CBJ) all have four points. Expectations were high for the Denisenko-Khovanov duo, and even though they have shown some great flashes, they just haven’t been as good as they should be. Voronkov has been a pleasant surprise in this tournament. He’s been used at center and he’s done a pretty good job at that. He’s a big power forward who can dominate with his size and strength but he also has some skill.

 

Vasili Podkolzin (VAN), Pavel Dorofeyev (VGK) and Yegor Zamula (PHI) have three points each. All three of Dorofeyev’s points are goals, and he leads the team with that. Podkolzin may only have three points but he’s really been the engine that’s been driving this team, and he’s created a bunch of great scoring chances but his linemates just haven’t been finishing from them. When Russia was at danger of being eliminated in the final game, Podkolzin took the team to his shoulders and refused to stop until Russia had a comfortable lead in the game.

 

Marchenko also leads the team with 18 shots on goal, followed by Romanov with 13, Khovanov with 12, and Podkolzin with 11.

 

Zamula leads the team in average ice time with 21:28, followed by Romanov with 20:54. Ivan Morozov (VGK) and Podkolzin are the only other players who are (barely) above 18 minutes per game.

 

Amir Miftakhov has a sparkling 0.941 save percentage but he was pulled in the USA game and the Russians went back to Yaroslav Askarov (2020) in their final game of the preliminary round. Askarov was very shaky in his first start of the tournament in game one but looked much calmer in his second start. He had a very good game against the Germans, so it’s expected that Askarov will start in the quarterfinals despite his 0.891 save percentage.

 

Czech Republic

 

The Czechs got their big win against Russia and they also took USA to overtime for another point which is why they got the fourth spot instead of going to the relegation round.

 

The big story for the Czechs has been injuries. Top forwards Jakub Lauko (BOS) and Jan Jenik (ARZ) are out for the tournament. Big center Jan Sir is an important player as well, and he’s missed a couple of games already. Number one goalie Lukas Dostal (ANA) has missed a couple of games, and number two goalie Lukas Parik (LAK) was injured in their final preliminary round game.

 

Michal Teplý (CHI) is the leading scorer for the Czechs with five points. He has played over 20 minutes per game which is a lot for a winger.

 

Team Captain Libor Zabransky has four points, all of them being goals. He leads the team in goals and shots on goal with 15. That is pretty surprising considering he’s a defenseman. Teplý is the only other player with more than 10 shots on goal, and he has 12.

 

Jenik, Simon Kubicek (2020) and Martin Hugo Has (WSH) have three points each. Jenik is now injured and the other two are defensemen, so the Czechs need to find offensive contributions from somewhere quickly.

 

17-year-old forward Jan Mysak (2020) has earned the Player of the Game honors twice in four games but he only has two points and he’s played just 15 minutes per game, so perhaps that would be one place where they could find some additional offense.

 

Kubicek leads the team in average ice time with 24:00, and that number is the second-highest in the entire tournament. He is followed by Teplý (20:20) and Zabransky (20:15) who are the only other players above 20 minutes. Kubicek is clearly the top defenseman for the Czechs which is quite impressive considering he’s a first-time draft-eligible player next summer. Jenik, Karel Klikorka (2020), Has and Sir have averaged a little more than 19 minutes per game.

 

The hope is that Dostal is ready to return for the quarterfinals. His 0.885 save percentage may not look great but he has been very good in the two games he’s played. If both Dostal and Parik are unable to go, then it’s up to the 17-year-old Nick Malik (2020) to keep the home team’s dream alive in their quarterfinal match-up against Sweden.

 

Germany

 

Germany was very unlucky to end up in this Group of Death. They managed to get a win against the Czechs but it wasn’t enough to avoid the relegation round where they will face Kazakhstan. The good news is that Germany goes into that series as the favorite, so they should be able to maintain their spot at the top level for next year.

 

Dominik Bokk (CAR) leads the Germans with five points. He was expected to be an offensive leader for Germany, and he hasn’t disappointed. Moritz Seider (DET) is second on the team with four points, and he leads the team with 15 shots on goal. Bokk is second with 13 shots.

 

Seider’s average ice time of 25:56 leads the entire tournament by a wide margin. He has been a beast for the Germans but there’s only so much one player can do.

 

The three 17-year-old wunderkinds have not disappointed either. Tim Stützle (2020) has been driving the offense and creating multiple chances, and he has three points. He’s also played over 19 minutes per game which is a lot for someone so young.

 

John-Jason Peterka (2020) has scored three goals, two of which came on the power play. And Lukas Reichel (2020) has a goal and an assist as well. Peterka has played 15:05 whereas Reichel has played just 13:28 per game.

 

Justin Schütz (FLA) is also a player worth mentioning. He’s played an average of 19:37 per game and put up two points. He started the tournament at center which is not his usual position but was moved to wing for the final preliminary round game. Schütz has been an important piece on both special teams as well.

 

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And that’s all for now, thanks for reading. Feel free to add comments below. Remember to follow me on Twitter @JokkeNevalainen.

 

 

Main picture courtesy of NHL.com