The gang’s all here, in the semifinals of the World Cup of Hockey.
All four Islanders players have advanced to the tournament’s final four following Team Russia’s 3-0 win over Team Finland on Thursday. Nikolay Kulemin and his countrymen will now face John Tavares and Team Canada in the first semifinal on Saturday night.
In Sunday afternoon’s second semifinal, Team Europe - featuring starting goalie Jaroslav Halak and also Thomas Greiss - will play Team Sweden. The winners of each game will meet in the best-of-three final series which starts on Tuesday.
Sergei Bobrovski made 21 saves in Russia’s shutout. Kulemin didn’t figure in the scoring, despite playing on a line with Evgeni Malkin and Artemi Panarin, and led the team in PK time.
Finland ends the tournament 0-3-0 and were outscored by a count of 9-1. Guess you could say they couldn’t... [puts on shades] ... Finnish. [YEAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!]
Islanders training camp kicks off for real on Friday. With four players still in Toronto for a while (and with coach Jack Capuano arriving a day late following Team USA’s unceremonious defeat), the rest of the team is looking forward to getting some time in the spotlight normally reserved for The John Tavares Show.
“Honestly it’ll be a good opportunity for guys to step up,” [Ryan] Strome said. “So many times guys are kind of looking over their shoulders and see what Johnny’s doing. For the first couple weeks, maybe see guys take the initiative, step up and take charge a bit. Johnny’s our leader, no question, but maybe it’ll be good for some guys, myself included. He’ll come in here flying too, so we better be ready to go.”
Congrats to all the guys on making it this far in what’s been a fun tournament (for everyone but the U.S.). For the semifinalists, and for the guys back on Long Island, I bid you a hale and hearty: Don’t Get Hurt.