From Forsberg’s goals to Raffl’s faceoffs
THE OLDER YOU GET, THE EASIER IT GETS
As a World Junior rookie in 2012, Filip Forsberg scored zero goals as Sweden ended its 31-year-gold medal drought in Calgary. Captaining the U20 national team in 2013 and 2014, Forsberg scored three and four goals respectively en route to silver medals.
But making his World Championship debut here in Prague against grown men, the 20-year-old Nashville Predators ace has already scored a whopping six goals in six games, vying for the tournament lead. Go figure.
SCRATCHING THE SEVEN-YEAR ITCH
After winning two straight Liiga championships with Karpat Oulu, Joonas Kemppainen should be a familiar face to fans in Finland. But if you focuses more strictly on IIHF competition, you could be forgiven for not recognizing the 27-year-old Kajaani-born forward’s name.
That’s because it’s been seven years – yes, seven – since Kemppainen last played for Finland in an IIHF tournament: the 2008 World Juniors in the Czech Republic, where the Finns came sixth. So far, he’s been tearing it up as a World Championship first-timer in Ostrava, potting five goals and three assists.
FANTASTIC FACEOFF MAN
It might be in Austria’s best interests to lobby to have the World Championship decided, not on wins and losses, but on faceoff percentage. Their only NHL forward here in Prague, Michael Raffl, is absolutely tearing it up in that department.
Coming off his second season with the Philadelphia Flyers, the Villach native has won 61 out of his 87 draws in five games for a tournament-leading percentage of 70.11. By way of comparison, Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins topped the NHL in faceoff percentage this past season at 60.2 percent.
SHOOTING FOR THE SHUTOUT STARS
With three shutouts so far in Ostrava, Finland’s Pekka Rinne is moving into some very exclusive company. And it’s not only about the length of his shutout streak, which is nearing the modern-day World Championship record (206:26, Slovakia’s Jan Lasak, 2004).
The Nashville Predators superstar is now tied for the third-highest number of career goose eggs (8) among goalies in modern IIHF World Championship history with Sweden’s Tommy Salo. If Rinne gets just one more, he’ll tie Russian legend Vladislav Tretiak for the second-highest number.
In first place is a name beloved by fans in the host Czech Republic: Jiri Holecek (12), a three-time World Champion who was both named Best Goalie and to the tournament all-star team five times.
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