For the second consecutive year, the World Hockey Championships will be held in Stockholm Sweden and Helsinki, Finland as part of a joint bid. Russia went undefeated in the 2012 tournament to take home the gold medals and it is in search of its fourth gold in six years.
Repeating certainly won't be easy, though, as Canada brings a stacked team overseas in hopes of winning gold for the first time since 2007. Teams such as Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, USA and the defending silver medalist Slovakia are always in the hunt as well.
Although the World Championships don't receive as much hype in North America as the Olympics or the World Junior Championships, they are incredibly important around the world. Fans will go to Stockholm and Helsinki in droves to see their teams play in a high-level international competition.
Unfortunately, the best of the best won't be playing since the tournament coincides with the NHL playoffs, but many of the world's best players are involved and more will be added as teams get eliminated from the NHL's postseason.
Here is everything you need to know about the 2013 World Hockey Championships including when and where to watch every game as well as which teams you'll want to keep an eye on throughout the tourney.
Where: Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland
When: Friday, May 3 through Sunday, May 19
Watch: NBC Sports Network (will air all USA games live or on tape delay and all four quarterfinal games)
Groups (Top 4 From Each Group Advance to Medal Rounds)
Schedule (via IIHF.com)
|Friday, May 3||9:15 a.m.||France vs. Slovakia|
|Friday, May 3||10:15 a.m.||Czech Republic vs. Belarus|
|Friday, May 3||1:15 p.m.||Finland vs. Germany|
|Friday, May 3||2:15 p.m.||Sweden vs. Switzerland|
|Saturday, May 4||5:15 a.m.||USA vs. Austria|
|Saturday, May 4||6:15 a.m.||Norway vs. Slovenia|
|Saturday, May 4||9:15 a.m.||Russia vs. Latvia|
|Saturday, May 4||10:15 a.m.||Canada vs. Denmark|
|Saturday, May 4||1:15 p.m.||Finland vs. Slovakia|
|Saturday, May 4||2:15 p.m.||Czech Republic vs. Sweden|
|Sunday, May 5||5:15 a.m.||France vs. Austria|
|Sunday, May 5||6:15 a.m.||Belarus vs. Slovenia|
|Sunday, May 5||9:15 a.m.||Germany vs. Russia|
|Sunday, May 5||10:15 a.m.||Switzerland vs. Canada|
|Sunday, May 5||1:15 p.m.||Latvia vs. USA|
|Sunday, May 5||2:15 p.m.||Norway vs. Denmark|
|Monday, May 6||9:15 a.m.||Germany vs. Slovakia|
|Monday, May 6||10:15 a.m.||Switzerland vs. Czech Republic|
|Monday, May 6||1:15 p.m.||Finland vs. France|
|Monday, May 6||2:15 p.m.||Sweden vs. Belarus|
|Tuesday, May 7||9:15 a.m.||Austria vs. Latvia|
|Tuesday, May 7||10:15 a.m.||Slovenia vs. Denmark|
|Tuesday, May 7||1:15 p.m.||Russia vs. USA|
|Tuesday, May 7||2:15 p.m.||Canada vs. Norway|
|Wednesday, May 8||9:15 a.m.||Austria vs. Germany|
|Wednesday, May 8||10:15 a.m.||Slovenia vs. Switzerland|
|Wednesday, May 8||1:15 p.m.||USA vs. Finland|
|Wednesday, May 8||2:15 p.m.||Norway vs. Sweden|
|Thursday, May 9||9:15 a.m.||Russia vs. France|
|Thursday, May 9||10:15 a.m.||Czech Republic vs. Denmark|
|Thursday, May 9||1:15 p.m.||Slovakia vs. Latvia|
|Thursday, May 9||2:15 p.m.||Sweden vs. Canada|
|Friday, May 10||9:15 a.m.||Slovakia vs. Austria|
|Friday, May 10||10:15 a.m.||Slovenia vs. Czech Republic|
|Friday, May 10||1:15 p.m.||Russia vs. Finland|
|Friday, May 10||2:15 p.m.||Belarus vs. Canada|
|Saturday, May 11||5:15 a.m.||USA vs. France|
|Saturday, May 11||6:15 a.m.||Switzerland vs. Denmark|
|Saturday, May 11||9:15 a.m.||Finland vs. Austria|
|Saturday, May 11||10:15 a.m.||Sweden vs. Slovenia|
|Saturday, May 11||1:15 p.m.||Germany vs. Latvia|
|Saturday, May 11||2:15 p.m.||Norway vs. Belarus|
|Sunday, May 12||9:15 a.m.||USA vs. Germany|
|Sunday, May 12||10:15 a.m.||Canada vs. Czech Republic|
|Sunday, May 12||1:15 p.m.||Slovakia vs. Russia|
|Sunday, May 12||2:15 p.m.||Norway vs. Switzerland|
|Monday, May 13||9:15 a.m.||Latvia vs. France|
|Monday, May 13||10:15 a.m.||Denmark vs. Belarus|
|Monday, May 13||1:15 p.m.||Austria vs. Russia|
|Monday, May 13||2:15 p.m.||Canada vs. Slovenia|
|Tuesday, May 14||5:15 a.m.||Slovakia vs. USA|
|Tuesday, May 14||6:15 a.m.||Belarus vs. Switzerland|
|Tuesday, May 14||9:15 a.m.||France vs. Germany|
|Tuesday, May 14||10:15 a.m.||Czech Republic vs. Norway|
|Tuesday, May 14||1:15 p.m.||Latvia vs. Finland|
|Tuesday, May 14||2:15 p.m.||Denmark vs. Sweden|
|Thursday, May 16||6 a.m.||Quarterfinal No. 1|
|Thursday, May 16||8:45 a.m.||Quarterfinal No. 2|
|Thursday, May 16||11:30 a.m.||Quarterfinal No. 3|
|Thursday, May 16||2:15 p.m.||Quarterfinal No. 4|
|Saturday, May 18||9 a.m.||Semifinal No. 1|
|Saturday, May 18||1 p.m.||Semifinal No. 2|
|Sunday, May 19||10 a.m.||Bronze Medal Game|
|Sunday, May 19||2:30 p.m.||Final|
*All times ET
Teams to Watch (Rosters via IIHF.com)
Who will win the 2013 World Hockey Championships?
There is no question that Canada's performances in the World Hockey Championships over the past several years have been disappointing. The Canadians have failed to medal since 2009 and haven't won gold since 2007. As luck would have it, however, many of Canada's top stars missed the NHL playoffs this season, so the roster is incredibly impressive.
Among the top stars slated to play for Canada are forwards Jordan Eberle, Claude Giroux, Taylor Hall, Eric Staal and Steven Stamkos, defensemen Brian Campbell and Justin Schultz and goaltender Mike Smith. Canada will also be led by former Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff, so all the pieces are in place.
If Canada doesn't win gold with such a star-studded roster in place, a lot of questions will have to be answered moving forward. There is a notion that Canada doesn't take this tournament seriously and perhaps there will be some truth to that if it loses.
Provided Canada doesn't come out on top, Czech Republic appears to be a huge threat. The Czechs are the third-most successful team in the history of this tournament as they have won gold 12 times, which puts them behind only Russia and Canada. Czech Republic has medaled in three straight tourneys including a gold-medal-winning performance in 2010, so it knows how to win in this format.
The Czechs have plenty of NHL talent, particularly at forward with the likes of Tomas Fleischmann, Martin Hanzal, Jiri Hudler, Jiri Tlusty, Jakub Voracek and Radim Vrbata taking part. The key will likely be the play of goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. If he is able to hold up and be a stabilizing force between the pipes, then the Czechs have a great chance to go far.
While the Czech Republic is stuck in a group with Canada, it is possible to advance to the gold-medal game without meeting Canada in the elimination round. That means a Czech vs. Canada final is a real possibility.
Perhaps no country puts more effort and resources into the World Hockey Championships than Russia. The Russians have won this tournament more than anyone else—26 times—and they have won gold in three of the past five years. Russia's top players seem more willing to take part in the tournament than most other countries, so it is no surprise that it is always in the hunt.
Russia actually has a lot more KHL talent on its roster than NHL talent at this point, but the KHL is a high-level league with a lot of superstars as well.
The key players for Russia will undoubtedly be New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk and the goaltending duo Ilya Bryzgalov and Semyon Varlamov. It is unclear who will get the bulk of the work between the pipes, but both goalies are capable of carrying a team on their back.
It will be interesting to see if anyone is added to the roster moving forward. Russia is maxed out at the moment, but if the Washington Capitals are knocked out in the first round and Alexander Ovechkin becomes available, Russia will find a way to make room.
While Team USA probably isn't a threat to medal this year, the team shouldn't be counted out due to its collection of NHL players. The majority of Team USA's roster is comprised of NHL talent, and while there are few elite players involved, it appears to be a hard-working team that can potentially do some damage throughout the tournament.
Forward Paul Stastny will be the key as he is the veteran leader of the team as well as its best overall player.
The forward group leaves a lot to be desired behind him, but the defense is strong, thanks to the likes of Erik Johnson, who is excited to make the trip, as well as Matt Carle and Justin Faulk. Goalie Ben Bishop must also rise to the occasion as the Americans figure to engage in plenty of low-scoring, tight-checking contests.
Unfortunately for Team USA, most of its top players choose not to compete in this tournament on a yearly basis. That is probably why the Americans haven't medaled since taking bronze in 2004 and haven't won gold since 1960.
There are two forward spots open on the roster, so talent can be added. Simply making it out of the group stage should be Team USA's goal as anything can happen from there.
Silver: Czech Republic
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