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World Championship preview: Canada back-to-back?

2022 IIHF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: WILL CANADA GO BACK-TO-BACK?

MAY 12, 2022  (14H01)      COOPER GODIN
The 2022 IIHF World Hockey Championship will get underway tomorrow with four games. Slovakia/France and United States/Latvia are set for 9:20 a.m. ET, while Germany/Canada and Finland/Norway will begin at 1:20 a.m. ET.

Today, we're gonna take a look at the tournament as a whole, with some information about this year's World Championship as well as seeing who has the best chance of winning the gold medal on May 29th.

Before we get into the groups, it should be noted that Belarus and Russia were banned from participating by the International Ice Hockey Federation for Russian's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. With Belarus and Russia being banned, the IIHF replaced them with Austria and France.

Here are the groups for the tournament:

Group A: Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Slovakia, Denmark, Kazakhstan, France, Italy.
Group B: Finland, United States, Czechia, Sweden, Latvia, Norway, Great Britain, Austria.

Each team will play seven games in the preliminary round, with the top four in each group advancing to the quarter-finals. The last place team in each group will be relegated to the 2023 IIHF World Hockey Championship Division 1A tournament, while Slovenia and Hungary have been promoted to the top division for next year.

It's hard to pinpoint who is the favourite for this year's tournament. After looking at each team's roster, it's fairly wide open, but for the sake of having a favourite and because they won last year, it would likely be Canada.

Canada has a young, skilled forward group with some gritty players mixed in their as well. Their defensive group is also fairly young, with the exception of Nick Holden (34). In goal, Canada will likely go with Chris Driedger of the Seattle Kraken, but it wouldn't be too shocking if Matt Tomkins of the SHL's Frolunda HC wins the crease early in the preliminary round.

As for other gold medal favourites, Finland is up there. Hosting the tournament and having their fans behind them should propel the Finns deep into the tournament. Finland is coming off their first-ever Olympic gold medal and with several of those players on this roster, they're hungry for more.

Sweden and the United States would likely round out the gold medal favourites, but if I had to choose a dark horse, it would be Germany. Tim Stutzle, Moritz Seider, Philipp Grubauer among others could push this team towards a spot in the semi-finals, which would guarantee a place in either the gold or bronze medal game.

Slovakia is another dark horse with Juraj Slafkovsky, Simon Nemec, Tomas Tatar among others looking to build off their bronze medal performance at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

When looking at the relegation battle, I see four teams, two in each group. In Group A, it's going to come down to Italy and Kazakhstan, while in Group B it will be between Austria and Great Britain. Italy and Kazakhstan will face-off against each other on May 23rd, with it being the last game of the preliminary round for both teams. Austria and Great Britain will also face each other on May 23rd in their last games of the preliminary round.

This year's tournament also features four top prospects for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Juraj Slafkovsky and Simon Nemec of Slovakia, David Jiricek of Czechia and Marco Kasper of Austria. All four of those players will be looking to impress the scouts in their final games before the draft in July.

Here are my predictions for the tournament.

1st - Canada (gold)
2nd - Sweden (silver)
3rd - Germany (bronze)
4th - Finland
5th - United States
6th - Slovakia
7th - Czechia
8th - Switzerland
9th - Denmark
10th - Latvia
11th - Norway
12th - France
13th - Kazakhstan
14th - Great Britain
15th - Italy (relegated)
16th - Austria (relegated)

The tournament will get underway tomorrow, as mentioned, and will run until Sunday, May 29th. Enjoy the tournament and stay tuned for more coverage on Markerzone.com!