What was supposed to be one of the biggest hockey games in quite sometime for the city of Edmonton, in actuality has no meaning whatsoever at all. When Team Canada faces Team United States at Rexall Place tonight (TSN, 6pm) the Canadians know they will be going directly to the semi-finals of the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship, while the Americans are going to the relegation round.
Still, there are a couple of important factors that will come into play. First, it is important that Canada doesn’t get into any bad habits. Team Canada has been a little bit undisciplined at times through their first three games and it is important the team carries their momentum they have now into Tuesday by playing a complete sixty minutes after deciding to take parts of the third period off against Denmark Thursday night.
Here are the other events I’ll be watching this weekend:
Saturday–NHL–Edmonton Oilers @ New York Islanders–11am–Sportsnet–When the Edmonton Oilers take to the ice this morning in Uniondale, they will be nine points back of the Los Angeles Kings for a playoff spot. Just to let you know YIKES is spelled Y-I-K-E-S. Anyway you look at it, today’s game is an absolute must win. The Oilers are playing the third worst team in the NHL (only Anaheim and Columbus have fewer points) and it is necessary that the team gets back into the playoff picture in a hurry if they hope to salvage their season. Oilers General Manager Steve Tambellini said before Christmas he wasn’t looking at making any major deals to improve his hockey club, but according to the Edmonton Journal, they are actively shopping unrestricted free agent Ales Hemsky.
Saturday–World Junior Hockey Championship–Finland vs. Czech Republic–2pm–TSN–In a battle for second place in Pool B, a lot is at stake in this one in Edmonton. The bottom line is that Finland or the Czech Republic would rather face Switzerland or Slovakia on Monday than Sweden or Russia. It will be interesting to see how the Czechs respond after such an emotional win yesterday against the United States. It was interesting watching the emotional joy and exuberance from goaltender Peter Mrazek, who make 52 saves in a 5-2 upset win yesterday afternoon. Finland meanwhile is coming off a five point performance from Teemu Pulkkinen (four goals,one assist, 13 shots) in a 10-1 win over Denmark that officially eliminated the United States.
Saturday–World Junior Hockey Championship–Sweden vs. Russia–8pm–TSN2–First place is on the line for Group A in Calgary. Both Sweden and Russia have been very dominant so far, outscoring their opponents by a combined 42-9 margin. Russian goaltender Andrei Vasilevski has been perfect in between the Russian pipes so far in making 70 saves, and recording shutouts against Switzerland and Latvia. Russia also has the top two leading scorers in the tournament–Nikita Gusev and Yevgeni Kuznetsov, who each have three goals and six assists. All of Kuznetsov’s nine points came in Russia’s 14-0 romp over Latvia on Thursday.
Saturday–NHL–Vancouver Canucks @ Los Angeles Kings–8pm–CBC–Edmonton Oiler fans will be Canuck fans tonight as Vancouver plays in southern California. After a three game winning streak, Vancouver is back in first place in the Northwest Division, only two points back of the Western Conference leading Chicago Blackhawks. Henrik Sedin may not score a lot of goals (10), but leads the NHL with 35 assists.
Sunday–NFL–New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins–11am–CBS–For the Jets at 8-7 to make the playoffs, they need a win and lots of help–losses to Cincinnati, Oakland AND Tennessee. This week Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson hinted the possibility of retirement. In Miami, running back Reggie Bush is having the best season of his career. He has had a career high in rushing yards (1,086) and is ninth in the NFL in that category.
Sunday–NFL–Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos–2pm–CBS–The Broncos playoff fate is quite simple–a win and they’re in and the AFC West Champions, a loss and they’re out with no chance of a wildcard spot. The Broncos beat the Chiefs 17-10 at Arrowhead on November 13, capped off by a 56 yard touchdown pass from Tim Tebow to Eric Decker with just under 7 minutes remaining.
Sunday–NFL–San Diego Chargers @ Oakland Raiders–2pm–Sportsnet–As simple as the Jets, and Broncos playoff fate, the Raiders are a lot more complicated. They need one of three scenarios–a) a win and a Denver loss, b) a win, a Jets win against Miami and a Baltimore win over Cincinnati OR c) a win, a Baltimore win against Cincinnati and a Houston win against Tennessee.
Sunday–NFL–Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants–6pm–NBC–First place is on the line at the Meadowlands in this intriguing first place matchup for the NFC East. Both the Giants and Cowboys are 8-7, with the winner hosting a playoff game, and the loser out. The big question heading into this one is the health of Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo, who severely bruised his throwing hand on the Cowboys’ opening drive last week against Philadelphia.
Tags: 2012 world junior hockey championships, ales hemsky, andrei vasilevski, dallas cowboys, denver broncos, Edmonton Oilers, eric decker, henrik sedin, kansas city chiefs, ladainian tomlinson, los angeles kings, miami dolphins, new york giants, new york islanders, new york jets, nikita usev, oakland raiders, petr mrazek, reggie bush, san diego chargers, Steve Tambellini, teemu pulkkinen, tim tebow, tony romo, Vancouver Canucks, yevgeni kuznetsov