With the World Cup of Hockey set to kick off tomorrow, it’s time to preview what to expect from those Islanders who will be participating in the event. John Tavares is a part of a star-studded Canadian squad, Nikolay Kulemin is suiting up for his native Russia, and Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss will share the same net for Team Europe. It should be a fun few to watch as these four Isles will battle each other and the best hockey players in the world.
It was clear in the exhibition games, that John Tavares is determined to win the gold for his home country of Canada after getting injured in Sochi back in 2014.
He has gotten playing time with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf and on the first power play which tells you that he has good chemistry with the two and could be relied on heavily by head coach Mike Babcock. Playing in a group with Czech Republic, the USA, and Team Europe, Tavares I’m sure with have something special in store, especially when he goes up against his teammates from the European team. It should be a strong tournament for the Isles captain which could end with a World Cup trophy.
Just like Tavares, Nikolay Kulemin will be getting his money’s worth as a part of the Russia’s offensive juggernaut.
As seen in the exhibition contests and practices, Kulemin was on a line with superstars Evgeni Malkin and Vladimir Tarasenko, which should be very exciting to watch. Kulemin will be the defensive anchor of that line, but he should be able to get in the offense with how skilled Malkin and Tarasenko are. Kulemin is a “sleeper” for a Russian team that will look to spoil the party in Toronto.
Now we come to the biggest storyline, Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss as the 1-2 punch for Team Europe. Coincidentally, they are the number one and number two or vice versa for the blue and orange.
Both played the best they could during warm up matches, but struggled because of the maligned defense in front of them. With Halak given the starting job by head coach Ralph Kruger, he will have his hands full in the group stage if Europe wants to advance. The same goes for Greiss. One thing is for sure, if either goaltender does play well, their play could win them number one spot for the Islanders net come the beginning of the season.
It should be very exciting tournaments seeing these four players represent their countries and continents. There should be some great highlights and hopefully some questions answered. And remember, it’s not often Isles fans will get to see their guys play with the best of the best, which is why these next few weeks will be something special.