Slovakia is trying to win one for their late captain.
The NHL playoffs continue this afternoon with the Kings and Coyotes getting together for perhaps the last time in Game 4 at 3 p.m. EDT. [More praise for the Kings centers here, which I tend to agree with.]
It's likely to be a low-rated game (TV-wise) on a Sunday afternoon with the series so far out of reach, but there's plenty more for the hockey-starved fan:
Memorial Cup: Islanders prospect Kirill Kabanov is back in action (along with many other NHL and 2012 Draft prospects) for Shawinigan against London, who pulled off an upset in the opener by dumping tournament favorite and defending champion Saint John.
IIHF World Championship: Already completed, the Czechs defeated co-hosts Finland for the bronze medal at the IIHF World Championship, despite being outshot by the Finns 14-1 in the third period. The Czechs' brotherly rivals Slovakia, who beat them in the semifinal, take on the undefeated Russians for the gold at 1:30 p.m. EDT (though NBC Sports televises it on delay at 9 p.m. EDT).
It would be a very emotional win if Slovakia can pull off the upset, as they're playing with thoughts focused on the late Pavol Demitra, the Slovakian star who died in the Lokomotiv tragedy. That sets up an interesting contrast though:
[the] Russian team knows the pain of the Yaroslavl disaster more than anyone. There isn't a player here who didn't lose friends that day.
However, while the Russian players are reluctant to talk publicly about their grief, the Slovaks are bursting with energy. They can think of no better way to pay tribute to Demitra.
It's probably easier to talk and think about it in uplifting terms when you have one central person on whom to focus your "win it for X" thoughts.
No doubt thoughts are heavy and scattered for Team Russia, as they lost so many compatriots in that disaster.
Tangential Memorial Cup news: The anthem singer from Friday night has been let go for flashing a political message at the end of the rendition.
As for that other series going on, obviously Devils followers feel their team dominated the Rangers only to have Henrik Lundqvist save the day, enabling a third-period burst on the way to a 3-0 Rangers win. Alas.