There is eight teams left in the tournament and I expect four thrilling quarter-finals with Canada-Russia as the big one during the next hours. While I am at it I have taken out my own All Star team so far in the tournament: Goalkeepers: Ryan Miller, USA/Henrik Lundqvist, Sweden: I can not pick just one. Lundqvist has a clean sheet so far, and Miller has been brilliant. Defenders: Brian Rafalski, USA, Niclas Lidstöm, Sweden: two great defenders with allround capacity. Forwards: Jarome Iginla, Canada: five goals so far and really hot. Nicklas Bäckström, Sweden: great hands and clever in every move. Mats Zuccarello-Aasen, Norway: yes, I think he has been just amazing to watch in his team. Coach: Ralph Kruger, Switzerland: without doubt the coach that has maximized his team most – and Switzerland has been the most entertaining side to watch in the tournament.
Here are my tips in the quarter-finals:
Switzerland is the most entertaining side to watch in the tournament so far and I am very impressed by the coaching from Ralph Krueger. USA beat the Swiss 3-1 in the group phase and I expect something similar in this match. USA has some great match-winners in Kessler, Malone and Parize and that will be decisive together with Miller in goal.
This will be a proper thriller, and I am not so convinced about the status of Canada so far. Their collective team work is not on top; it is like building a house without a proper foundation. Their box-play is so and so, and Nidermayer and Pronger do not look good at all in defense. Also, the San José line with Joe Thornton is not producing as expected. I foresee a draw at full-time and a Canada wins after penalties. The backing of the home crowd will lead Canada to the semi-final, but it will be extremely tight.
Finland has high hopes to reach the semis, but I think that the Czechs will win this match. I have a feeling that Finland’s older players will not have the edge against the shrewd players from Czech Republic where both Jagr and Elias looks really solid. And I don’t buy that Finland let Sweden win in their last group phase match. Finland simply weren’t up for it and I think that they would have preferred Slovakia instead of Czech Republic if they could choose.
Slovakia has an interesting side with some forwards of the highest class, but I can not see them beat Sweden. I think that the Swedish machine, disciplined and organized, will overcome the artistic flair that we see in Slovakia. Under 5.5 goals is probably the best bet of them all in the quarter-finals.