While the Stanley Cup is still ongoing, the European club hockey season is over and waiting for the last bit of the season.
The coming week all the participating countries go through the final preparations before the start of the World Championship. Some are in hurry and need to sharpen their skills, while some others have all the pieces in their places.
What can we all expect from these games that take place in Paris and Cologne this time?
First of all, if I may mention some of the last year’s hype around Finland:
I think Finland, the lions, can consider themselves to be happy if they end up with a semi-final as I wouldn’t give them more this time.
Since Lauri Marjamäki took the place as the head coach for the Finnish it has been worrisome. No real structure in the game that could give at least the feeling “Maybe, maybe” except a few highlights.
Moreso now that a lot of the NHL-players have declined the invitations for the championships in France and Germany.
Some experts say that it is because they, the NHLers, are not getting along with Marjamäki since the World Cup debacle, as the reason why they are not turning up.
Therefore, Marjamäki has to perform some magic tricks with the team if they wish something more than just a semi and trust his hardest on the goalkeepers.
So, no hype this year around Finland and for that reason no bigger expectations for their performance.
Otherwise, we can expect pretty much a wide-open story, at least among the top nations such as Russia, Sweden, Canada, Czech Republic, and Switzerland, including Finland even if I don’t give them much this time.
Denmark as a hockey nation has improved a lot the latest years; they are of course able to shake a lot of teams if they wake up on the right side.
Hopefully, the home nations, France and Germany, are able to present their absolute best hockey and can give the home fans a memorable tournament. Something to look back on and be proud of.
Teams such as Italy and Slovenia are primarily those teams who will battle for staying in the highest division or dropping down to the second division. My bet goes to Slovenia in that case.
Next Friday, the 5th of May, it will all start and I am getting year-by-year more convinced that it is always the first 1-2 games that set the tone for the rest of the tournament.
Which of the teams will be awake from the beginning or not we will see then, but prepare for some thrilling games.
I’m leaving the game of hockey with nothing but great memories.