Editor's Note: Front-paging a report from the World Championships from BenHasna.
Originally a comment, now a FanPost. For those who don't know, I live in Switzerland and attended today's upset of Denmark against USA at the Worlds. And wow, that Denmark team is fun to watch
Going in, as you’d expect, I was neutral. But looking at how Denmark played the game, I had to be happy for them at the end. And pretty much the whole crowd was. There anyway were more Danish people than I expected and most of the German and Finnish fans supported Denmark, too. As the ranking presents itself now, not sure, if that was smart, though. However, I think everyone could feel how much this game meant to Denmark and how well they played it with their young, fascinating group.
Actually, this Danish team is more talented than any Swiss team I’ve seen. They obviously still have a tough road ahead in this tournament and could perhaps just about miss the top 8. And in the years to come, they might lack a bit of depth, as they don’t have a very good league in their country, but sooner or later I see them playing the role Switzerland played at this year’s Olympics.
Besides the talent, I loved the effort and the spirit of this team. And Frans Nielsen kind of led the way there, too. You could see the pride in his face first when he returned to the bench to hug the coaches after the overtime winner and then when he skated off at Peter Regin’s side. That was pretty special.
And Nielsen had another very good game. To me, he was the best player out there, but I might be biased a bit. But really, he showed everything he’s got. His playmaking was sensational and he of course played smart defensively as usual, playing against the top line (Foligno-Dubinsky-Okposo) all night. As discussed here, it would be awesome if he scored just a bit more goals. That was true also for this particular game, he should have scored once at least, had three pretty good chances. But it was more bad luck than anything today and I liked his offensive play a lot, too. So, I could definitely imagine him to improve there. I was a bit concerned about one thing, though, he looked a little tired towards the end. From the 2nd period on he tried to make sure to not get caught on an extended shift, even was off the ice first quite often. Lots of tough minutes to come for him and the whole team and I just hope everything will go well until the end.
Two of Nielsen’s line mates were pretty impressive, too. First of all, Lars Eller who scored the first goal and created some very good chances in combination with Nielsen. He should have a pretty good NHL career, I think. And I’d say the same about Philip Larsen. To be honest, I had no idea he had played the two last regular season games with Dallas, but I’m quite convinced we’ll see a lot of him in the NHL. He’s not a very big guy, but I actually liked defensive work quite a bit, too.
Gordon not active enough?
The US team obviously was disappointing. They played with some nice urgency in the 2nd period, had great netfront presence and were unlucky not to win that period. But in the rest of the game, they just weren’t good enough. Obviously, the roster isn’t very good and the game is a whole lot different on the bigger rink. So, I understand they can struggle a bit, but two goals in 6+ periods against Germany and Denmark, umm, well. I didn’t pay too much attention to the coaching, but in my opinion Gordon should have matched the lines better. He had the last change, but only once or twice maybe tried to get the top line away from Nielsen and the 2nd line (Moss-Galiardi-Oshie) away from the Regin line. The other two Danish lines are a lot worse obviously and they sometimes struggled indeed, were hardly ever in the offensive zone, but the 3rd and 4th lines of the US team were not good enough to create good scoring chances. Ryan Carter or also Nystrom were quite bad. As for Gordon, I thought a few times he could have been more active also behind the Islanders' bench. He might sometimes have lacked the personnel to match the lines effectively, but well, it doesn't seem to be his strength or his priority.
Okposo and Hillen good
The two Islanders belonged to their best players, though. Okposo was together with maybe Oshie the best forward. His assist was a beautiful play, a brilliant pass through the box despite having Nielsen checking on him. And Hillen was skating really well. I hope he’ll get a bit more time with the top two lines in the next game. With the way Foligno or also Dubinsky have been playing, they’ll need help from their defensemen.