The medal games are here and Canada is playing for gold for the first time since 2009; the second consecutive loss to the Russians in the game. The Canadians have brought a stacked team to the tournament, but will be in tough against a Russian side that features many skilled players.
Playing for the bronze will be the host Czech Republic against the . This match-up pits Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec against Winnipeg Jets prospect Connor Hellebuyck in goal. The two teams will be looking to medal, the Czech Republic's first since 2012 and the USA's first since 2013.
Gold Medal Game
Canada versus Russia
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Canada has gone undefeated throughout the tournament with their closet game coming against France in round-robin play. The Canadians have ridden a deep attack and a strong puck-possession orientated system to their record. Although goalie Mike Smith is prone to lapses in remembering that he is a goalie and go wondering, the Canadian skaters are a strong enough group to cover his mistakes. Crosby is in line to become a Triple Gold Club member if Team Canada wins as World Championship gold is all he is missing to achieve this honour.
Russia got a boost from Alex Ovechkin joining their ranks and he adds to the already potent Russian attack that will be the biggest challenge that Canada has faced at the World Championships. Aside from the forwards, Russia also has talented goalkeeper Sergei Bobrovsky in goal the Canadian forwards will have to work hard to score goals against them. The two teams should be fairly evenly matched, which should lead to a good Gold Medal Game for the May long weekend.
Canada and Russia are ranked one and two for shooting percentage and power play, but Canada is well ahead in penalty killing and goalkeeping. While Bobrovsky is a superior goalie to Smith, Smith can still win a stand alone game and that is all Canada needs to win gold.
Bronze Medal Game
Czech Republic versus United States of America
10:00 am EST
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Although they lost to the Canadians, Czech fans can take solice in the fact that Ondrej Pavelec looked like a goalie who was capable of winning them a game against a team when called upon. The Czechs boosted their attack by adding veteran Montreal Canadiens centre Tomas Plekanec to the team just prior to the semi-final. Plekanec played, but having just flown over from North America was probably not at his best. With another day of practice and time change adjustment under his belt, he will hopefully be able to help the Czechs win bronze on home ice.
The USA came over with an exceptionally young roster that lacked any star talent to be one of the final four teams. They are again met with a challenge in the form of 43 year old Jaromir Jagr and his band of merry Czechs. The Americans have played strong this tournament, but the defence pairing of Torey Krug and Justin Faulk has been a bit of a mess for them. Needing strong play from all the players to win a medal, the Americans are banking on the blue line and Hellebuyck to bounce back in a big way against the host nation.
The USA is a team that has a lower shooting percentage, but counteracts that with a strong goalie and penalty killing unit. On the other hand, the Czechs rely on a strong power play and a high shooting percentage to win games as their goaltending has been mediocre at best.