clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

World Cup of Hockey: Team Europe vs Team USA Recap

Team USA and Team Europe clashed on day one of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Hockey: World Cup of Hockey-Team Europe vs Team USA Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 World Cup of Hockey kicked off today with a meeting of Team USA, lead by Max Pacioretty, Patrick Kane, Dustin Byfuglien and Jonathan Quick; and Team Rest of Europe, lead by Anze Kopitar, Zdeno Chara and Frans Nielsen.

Team USA was looking to prove John Tortorella’s scratching of Dustin Byfuglien wasn’t a massive mistake. Nobody knows why Torts kept Byfuglien out of the lineup, but to do so without a good reason is a major gaffe. Meanwhile, Team Europe hoped to show the world their inclusion at the World Cup is every bit as cool as Team North America. (Hint: It’s not, but they’re still a likable team unlike the Americans).

First Period

This game got off to a bit of a back-and-forth start. Team USA came out and finished their checks while Team Europe got a little too fancy with the puck at times. The game started pretty chippy but eventually Team Europe started to break through Team USA’s forecheck and managed to get behind the Americans. This all came to a head when the Americans got caught in the neutral zone 4:30 in. Ryan McDonagh turned the puck over, Frans Nielsen picked the puck up, brought it into the offensive zone on the right wing, slid a slick pass over to Marian Gaborik for an easy tap-in goal to kick off the tournament.

Check out the entire play below.

After the goal, Team Europe really started to take advantage of the momentum shift. Team USA kept finishing their checks whenever possible but a lot of their hits seemed to be away from the puck. Team Europe managed to create some traffic in front of Quick, force some turnovers and turn their good play into a few scoring chances. When Team USA did bring the puck into the offensive zone, Jaroslav Halak stood tall time and again; Halak even robbed Kane on a scoring chance from the slot.

Tomas Tatar got into the game with a nice scoring chance about 9 minutes in that just went wide. He was all alone in front of the net and couldn’t fit the puck in-between Quick and the post. Tatar also had a pretty good look in the neutral zone which helped draw a penalty a few minutes later. He scooped the puck up, skated into the offensive zone on the right side and dished the puck to Anze Kopitar in front of the net which forced Ryan Kesler to take a penalty in order to negate the scoring chance.

All in all, Team Europe didn’t really “dominate” this period but they looked very, very good. Team USA spent way too much time chasing the play and it cost them. They gave up far too many odd-man rushes and weren’t able to work the puck down low with any success.

Good period: Frans Nielsen, Jaroslav Halak

Tough period: Everyone on Team USA except Jonathan Quick

Second Period

Team USA came out and played well in the first 2 minutes of the period but gradually started to get back to their old ways. 5 minutes in and Team Europe nearly scored on a 3-on-2 that was set up entirely by none other than Frans Nielsen.

The Europeans scored on a ridiculous 2-on-0 just 4 minutes into the period. Patrick Kane turned the puck over at the Team Europe blueline and Leon Draisaitl buried the puck on a pass from Nino Niederreiter.

Kane and Kesler finally started to get things going about 11 minutes in when they nearly scored on a 2-on-1 but Halak shut the door on Kesler at the last second. Soon after Team USA was awarded a powerplay that started well but soon fizzled out until... controversy!

The Americans kept fighting and scored a goal, or so they thought, in front of the net with 5:50 left. A Ryan Suter shot from the point got through to the net, Halak stopped the initial shot but James van Riemsdyk seemed to knock the puck off his arm and into the net. The goal went to review. It seemed like the puck hit JVR’s arm, then went off Derek Stepan’s helmet and then into the net. The refs got together, ruled it an intentional hit by JVR and waived the goal off. Oh well, easy come, easy go.

Here’s the “goal.” You be the ref.

Team USA nearly scored soon after on an Abdelkader redirect. The Americans started to pick up the pace and even secured another powerplay with 4 minutes left. But the Europeans kept the Americans off the scoreboard once again.

Immediately after the powerplay a turnover deep in the US end resulted in a Pierre-Edouard Bellemare goal. The Europeans shoveled the puck back to the point, threw it towards the net and Bellemare redirected it into the net.

That made it 3-0 Team Frankeneurope and that score would stand until the horn sounded. Surprised? You weren’t the only one.

Good period: All of Team Europe

Tough period: All of Team USA, especially the defense

Third Period

Jonathan Quick started the 3rd in net for Team USA, which was expected. Sure the Americans are down by 3 goals but none of those are Quick’s fault. Can you really point to him as the issue for broken plays in the neutral zone and turnovers at the offensive blueline? No. And the start of the period? More of the same. More chasing Americans and superb European counterattacks.

Nielsen remained dangerous, nearly scoring on a great chance halfway through a Team Europe powerplay. Tatar also had a great chance from the right post on the same powerplay but Quick somehow got a piece of the shot.

I have no idea how Tatar didn’t score here.

More of the same followed. Team Europe kept the Americans off the scoresheet with some stifling defense. Around the 10 minute mark, however, Team USA started to really take control of the game as the Europeans stopped their counterattacks.

A powerplay with 6:45 to go nearly got the Americans somewhat back into the game but Halak wasn’t giving up anything to Team USA. On the same powerplay, Halak speared Patrick Kane with his stick, Zach Parise took exception and everyone got mad at each other. No penalty, but it sure did frustrate the Americans even more.

Team Europe gave up a ton of shots on goal over the last 10 minutes in the 3rd period but Jaroslav Halak was there every time. He made some spectacular saves to bail out his defense and to negate the powerplays that Team USA kept receiving. He got away with a spear on Kane that might have been called a penalty and might have put them in a 5-on-3 PK, but other than that he was fantastic.

Nothing Team USA did could break through the brick wall Team Europe had in net. The 3-0 score would stand until the final horn. This was a well-deserved win by Team Europe. They were very impressive through two periods and that was good enough to win the game against an overly-aggressive Team USA that seemed just as shocked as everyone watching the game at home.

Good period: Jaroslav Halak

Tough period: Team USA’s powerplay, Team Europe’s defense

How’d The Wings Do?

Justin Abdelkader

I didn’t see a whole lot of Abdelkader, he was listed as the fourth line left wing before the game. He did have a few good chances down low, nearly redirecting the puck into the net for Team USA, but I didn’t see him out there a whole lot. When I did see him play, he seemed to be doing something positive. I don’t think we’ll see a whole lot of him in this tournament but who knows with Torts running the show? He scratched Byfuglien today, so Abdelkader might find himself getting first line time opposite David Backes and Brandon Dubinsky next game. Crazier things have happened.

Frans Nielsen

Frans Nielsen is a beast. This guy was flying out there. He was great defensively, great in transition and set up so many scoring chances for Team Europe. Nielsen was easily the best player on the ice this afternoon, nobody even comes close. He was extremely impressive when he was out there and I’m so excited to see what he can do for the Wings this year.

Nielsen reminds me a little bit of Pavel Datsyuk, he does everything well and he controls the game and plays at his own pace. He doesn’t chase the play, doesn’t find himself out of position very often and always seems to make the right play. He was fantastic this afternoon.

Tomas Tatar

Tomas Tatar is certainly picking up where he left off last year: snakebit. He had three really good chances in this game but wasn’t able to score on any of them. He had a few opportunities where he should have shot the puck instead of looked for a pass or tried to dangle through a few defenders. He played a solid game, but I was hoping that he would find his way onto the scoresheet.

It’s just the first game of the tournament, but hopefully Tatar can take his solid play and turn that into points sooner rather than later.

Thomas Vanek

I didn’t get a chance to see a whole lot of Vanek either but like Abdelkader; I liked what I saw. He made some good passes out there and even though he gave up a turnover or two throughout the course of the game, I thought he was a net-positive for the Europeans. I like what he brings to the table for the Red Wings, I just hope that he’s a little more visible as the tournament wears on. Perhaps I’m just guilty of comparing him to Nielsen, which is a bit unfair. But I would have liked to see more of Vanek for Team Europe, particularly on the powerplay.