Can Swiss bound back?
Can Swiss bound back?
Silver in 2013 is a distant memory
The Swiss have had a Canadian coach since 1998 (previously Ralph Krueger and Sean Simpson), and Hanlon might well be the most interesting man in hockey. He is now on his third European team (after Belarus and Slovakia), the former NHL goalie obviously enjoying life overseas.
This will be the fifth straight senior competition for Reto Berra. He was an important part of the team’s silver medal in 2013, and he has an 8-0-6 record in 14 previous World Championship games. He was a backup with the Colorado Avalanche this year and will be joined by two Swiss-league goalies – Leonardo Genoni (HC Davos) and Daniel Manzato (HC Lugano). Genoni was sensational in the playoffs leading Davos to its 31st championship.
There is good news and bad news for the Swiss defence. To the good, veteran Mark Streit will be back for a 13th time. The 37-year-old has also played in the last four Olympics and has 654 NHL games to his credit. Roman Josi – the MVP of the 2013 Worlds – will join him, but two other top NHLers won’t. Luca Sbisa and Yannick Weber, both of the Vancouver Canucks, declined invitations to play. As well, Mattias Seger, four-time WM captain, will not be able to make it 17 World Championships because of injury.
There is a lot of new blood on the team as the next generation of players begins to replace names like Goran Bezina, Julien Vauclair, and Ivo Ruthemann. Kevin Fiala, still only 18 and fresh off making his NHL debut with Nasvhille, can hopefully add some speed and offence to the lineup. Cody Almond, a 25-year-old Canadian, has met the criteria to play for Switzerland and will be making his debut, and 23-year-old Tristan Scherwey will also make his debut at the senior level. He previously played at the U18 and U20 events. Returning veterans include Andres Ambuhl and Kevin Romy. The biggest worry will be scoring goals. The team can play disciplined hockey and can play as a team, but, plain and simple, it needs to put more pucks in the net.Continue reading
Glen Hanlon brings plenty of experience to the job, but he’s still starting with a new team and adjustments have to be made by both him and the players. Things take time, but with the current round-robin format Hanlon will have seven games to get the team on the same page.
It’s not feasible to think the team can win nine games in a row en route to the gold-medal game as it did in 2013. But certainly demotion isn’t in the cards, either. Canada, Czech Republic, and Sweden are a virtual lock for three of the four playoff spots, meaning the Swiss will be fighting Austria, France, Germany, and Latvia for the fourth spot. This is feasible. But perhaps the ambitions of the team can start and end there.
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