With not too much going on right now, let’s check in on the 2019 IIHF World Championship over in Slovakia.
Penguins players of note:
Matt Murray - CAN
Canada and Murray won 8-1 Saturday against Germany. Murray allowed the one goal on 16 shots, and shots in the second period were 19-1 in favor of Canada so Murray didn’t get a lot of work but had to be sharp when called upon and did what he had to do. Murray has played three games in the WC, posting a 2-1 record allowing eight goals (2.68 GAA) and a .890 save%. That last number isn’t impressive but considering how Canada has been playing (not allowing much, but what does come the goalie’s way is pretty dangerous) that’s about as to be expected. Germany obviously isn’t on Canada’s level for hockey, and overall the next five games for Murray and his countrymen will be a lot more important and telling than the first five were.
Patric Hornqvist - SWE
It’s just Worlds, but with 5 goals and 3 assists in five games, Hornqvist has been playing some excellent hockey on Sweden’s top line with the super-skilled William Nylander (himself leading the tournament currently with 13 points 4g+9a).
Just look at this write up from IIHF.com with some encouraging and very unsurprising words about Hornqvist’s play in the Swedes’ 4-3 win Saturday over Switzerland.
Nylander got the goal, but Patric Hornqvist played a huge part. He jockeyed for position with Romain Loeffel in front of the net, creating the space to get a shot away. Berra blocked that one, but Hornqvist slipped the rebound wide for Nylander to shoot home the 2-1 goal.
Nylander’s three-point haul on the night lifted him to the top of the scoring charts and his line-mate Hornqvist spoke like a man enjoying his hockey after the game. “I think our line is playing really well right now,” he said. “We let William have the puck a lot, I try to go to the net and Alexander tries to make things happen with William. We’re creating some offence, some scoring chances. We have to keep building and getting better every day.”
Hornqvist had a prolonged dry streak from scoring in the NHL season over the last half of the year and got demoted away from Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin onto a more grinding third line with Nick Bjugstad. Seeing all this production with skilled players like Nylander (and remembering Hornqvist’s 2018 NHL playoff where he scored 11 points in ten games, mainly with Crosby).
Mike Sullivan doesn’t need internet pointers on telling him his business, but we’re all here so let’s give a tip anyways. Hornqvist is best utilized as a supporting player with star centers. Play him there, he’ll create mayhem and the net gets filled.
Dominik Simon - CZE
If Hornqvist’s impressive WC is born out of a slump, Simon has flashed as well perhaps somewhat unexpectedly. Simon is the Czech’s third leading scorer with 7 points (2g+5a) in five games so far. Simon also had a very good 2015 WC which helped him get drafted by Pittsburgh, so performing well in this tournament is nothing new for him.
Evgeni Malkin - RUS
Geno has gone quiet after recording two assists in the first game of the tournament, he only has one point (another helper) in the last four games. The powerful Russian team has been on cruise control so far this tourny, so we’ll see if Malkin kicks it into a higher gear when the games count more.
Teodors Bluegers - LAT
Better known as Teddy Bleuger in the Americanized version of the spelling of his Latvian name, the forward has three points (1g+2a) in five games as the Latvians valiantly fight their uphill battle against the bigger hockey nations that have more talent.
Jared McCann - CAN
McCann only has two assists in five games, which is a bit surprising and probably not indicative of his overall play. McCann has been on arguably Canada’s most exciting and best line so far, notably with Detroit’s Anthony Mantha racking up the points on it (7g+4a to rank him among the highest scorers in the tourny).
Marcus Pettersson - SWE
The defenseman has no points in five games, but he does have four penalty minutes. And how about the 23-year old playing the rare 84 game NHL regular season (due to the timing of when the Pens and Anaheim made their trade), four playoff games and now possibly double digit WC games. If anyone on the team has earned a summer off eventually, it’ll be Pettersson for sure. Great for development to get so much game time in though.