Looking to break through
Looking to break through
Top division survival is crucial for Danes
After finishing in eighth place at the 2010 World Championship, Denmark has lingered in 11th, 12th and 13th place in the years since. Danish hockey is growing and producing more talented players who are drawing the attention of the NHL (Nikolaj Ehlers comes to mind) but the national team is still searching for another breakout tournament that shows how far they’ve come since returning to the highest international level of the sport in 2003. This team might find itself struggling to stay up top in the highest competitive division of World Championship tournaments but must remain hopeful that its core of veterans can get the job done.
Patrick Galbraith has represented Denmark since 2006 at the World Championships. He’s alternated between starting goaltender and backup for the national team. For the last two years, Galbraith has played for Karlskrona in the Allsvenskan league. Galbraith’s father George was a Canadian netminder who moved to Denmark and was a member of the Danish national team in 1986 and 1994. Simon Nielsen has seen action in nine games in the World Championships for the national team since 2013. Nielsen is the younger brother of Danish star and current New York Islanders forward Frans Nielsen. Nielsen registered Denmark’s lone win at the World Championships in Minsk, beating Italy 4-1 at Chizovka Arena. Sebastian Dahm is the third option should one be needed.
Denmark needs to improve defensively. In Belarus, Denmark allowed 27 goals against - second most in the tournament behind Kazakhstan. Denmark will have to make do without Philip Larsen, who has opted not to participate. A free agent, Larsen cannot risk injury while hoping to sign with a new team. The Lauridsen brothers are available and will add a physical dimension to the Danish defence. Oliver played for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms after appearing in one game with the Philadelphia Flyers this season. Markus appeared in 62 games for the Lake Erie Monsters. Jesper B. Jensen has appeared in 27 World Championship games since 2011. In 2014, Jensen led all Danish skaters in time on ice with 153:21 and only one of three plus players in the lineup. He led his team with a +4. 27-year old Mads Bodker has been a reliable member of the national team as well.Continue reading
Denmark will have options among its forward units. 37-year-old Kim Staal has always been a player that Denmark has counted on. The Herlev native played won the Asia League with the Tohoku Free Blades. Staal scored 37 goals in 46 games. Captain Morten Green has represented Denmark in every World Championship tournament since 2003 when his country joined the top division. Head coach Karlsson will hope that Nichlas Hardt can regain his 2011 World Championship form when he scored four goals in the tournament. Morten Madsen must now step up and become an important and timely contributor for this team. As a junior player, Madsen played for the Victoriaville Tigres in the QMJHL in 2006/07 and scored 100 points in leading the team. He’s shown the ability to provide offence at every level and league he’s played and needs to assume that role on the national team. Jesper Jensen, who led in goal scoring in Minsk, averaged nearly a point per game for Rogle BK in the Allsvenskan. There is still hope that Frans Nielsen might be able to play now that the New York Islanders have been eliminated from the NHL playoffs.
Janne Karlsson is entering his third season behind the bench. So far Karlsson has only been able to achieve lower table status for his team with 12th and 13th place finishes respectively. Karlsson was an assistant coach of both the 2006 Swedish men’s Olympic team and World Championship team that won gold medals that year. Sweden is the only country to earn the distinction of winning gold in both major hockey tournaments in the same year. Karlsson has known domestic success in Sweden, winning three titles - two with Frolunda and one with HV71. Karlsson is hoping to bring that same level of international success to Denmark, at least through measurable and realistic goals.
The principal plan is to avoid relegation. Time and again, Denmark has been able to stay up, placing among the bottom third of the World Championship standings. Denmark’s fortunes in Group B will become clearer in games against Belarus, Norway and Slovenia. Still, it will be a tough road. Since the new tournament format in 2012, Denmark has lost all three games it has played against Norway but has beaten Belarus and Slovenia in the games they’ve faced them over the same period. The relative inexperience of the US entry might also be a factor that not only helps the Danes avoid relegation but perhaps hope to advance to the playoff round with an upset of the Americans. It happened in 2003. For the Danes hope springs eternal.
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