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Injury knocks Elias Pettersson out of Worlds, Canada's complex path to QFs

May 14, 2018, 3:58 AM ET [450 Comments]
Carol Schram
Vancouver Canucks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
We won't see any more of Elias Pettersson as the 2018 World Championship winds into its final week.

The dazzling Canucks prospect was knocked out of the tournament after breaking his thumb in Sweden's 5-3 win over Switzerland on Sunday.

It's believed that the injury happened on this play in the second period:

He kept playing, but showed that he was not comfortable:

In the end, Pettersson did not come back for the third period. He played just 8:12 in the game, but did pick up a first-period assist by starting off a slick tic-tac-toe play with Mikael Backlund and Patric Hornqvist.

This isn't a great angle: Pettersson starts the play over on the half wall, feeding Backlund at the side of the net for the one-touch to Hornqvist.

All told, Pettersson finishes the tournament with a goal and two assists in five games for the defending champions from Sweden, who are tracking to be the top team in the tournament at the end of round-robin play on Tuesday. The Swedes are undefeated, with one overtime win, for 17 points through six games. They'll finish off their round-robin schedule against second-place Russia on Tuesday but with a four-point cushion in the standings, they've already clinched first place in their group.

The Vancouver Canucks' Anders Nilsson looks like he has locked down the starter's job for Sweden. He made 20 saves against a determined Swiss team on Sunday, giving up his first three goals of the tournament in his third start.

Check out this stop after the Swiss had scored twice to cut Sweden's lead to 3-2:

Magnus Hellberg has surrendered five goals in his three games.

Team USA is first in Group B, also undefeated but with two overtime/shootout wins for 16 points through six games. They'll play Finland for first place in their Group on Tuesday; the only way the Finns can pass them is with a regulation win.

I had a chance to catch up with ex-Canuck Nick Bonino after he made his debut in the Americans' 9-3 win over Norway on Sunday. Despite having a new baby at home and having played on two Stanley Cup winners over the last two years, he said it was a pretty easy decision for him to answer the call to come to Denmark.

It wasn't as tough a decision as I thought it would be. I didn't expect it; obviously I played Worlds three years ago and then two long runs, so i've played hundreds of games in the last few years.

I got the text in the morning from David Poile (his GM in Nashville, who's also part of the U.S. advisory committee) and talked to my wife. I said, it's nine days and I'm 30 years old—who knows how many more of these I can play? Hopefully I can play a bunch more, but...they want me, why wouldn't I go?

I got the stamp of approval from Lauren and was able to come over here and try to win something.

U.S. general manager Bill Zito had mentioned a couple of days earlier that his team wasn't as deep down the middle as he would have liked, so Bonino helps shore up that position. Coach Jeff Blashill didn't hesitate to throw him right into the fire: though the outcome was never in doubt, Bonino logged 17:17 of ice time, more than any U.S. forward.

"It's never a bad thing to kind of get your legs under you," he said, though he admitted to being gassed in the second period. "I tried to sleep on the plane, my mind wouldn't let me, it was racing. I'm not great flying oversees.

"I just wanted to get here. I'm running on fumes, but the adrenaline got going and I was just able to try to play with my line—it's a fun line to play with."

Skating with Patrick Kane and Cam Atkinson and playing the penalty kill, Bonino tallied two assists in his first game.

It's great to see a player with such an excellent attitude toward the tournament—and Patrick Kane's also in a really good headspace. He pointed out that with their six round-robin wins, this year's group has matched the U.S. record that was set by Blashill's team in last year's tournament. As captain, he's aiming to inspire his group to run the table and set up the best-possible positioning going into the medal round.

After a disappointing tournament that has seen their only regulation win come against South Korea, German coach Marco Sturm turned to third goalie Mathias Niederberger against Finland—and was rewarded with a 3-2 upset win in overtime.

The Germans have only 10 players here in Denmark from their silver medal-winning group from the Olympics, so their tournament has been a disappointment. Despite Sunday's win, they won't move on to the quarterfinal.

But the win did create a zillion possibilities for the final round-robin standings in Group B.

After their 5-1 loss to Finland on Saturday, Canada has no hope of finishing first in the Group. As far as I can tell, they could land anywhere from second to sixth but they control their own destiny in terms of securing a spot in the quarterfinal.

Here are the current, relevant Group B standings as of Monday morning:

2. Finland - 13 points - 1 game remaining against U.S.
3. Denmark - 11 points - 1 game remaining against Latvia
4. Canada - 10 points - 2 games remaining against Latvia, Germany
5. Latvia - 9 points - 2 games remaining against Canada, Denmark
6. Germany - 7 points - 1 game remaining against Canada

The tiebreaker in all cases is the head-to-head matchup, so here's the quick outline of possibilities as I see them:

• If Canada wins both its games, it finishes second unless Finland beats the U.S. in regulation.

• Finland beat Canada, so it'd hold the tiebreaker. The two teams could end up with the same number of points in several scenarios; in all cases, Finland would earn the higher seed.

• Where things get complicated is this Denmark/Latvia/Canada mix. If Canada loses to Latvia on Monday, they'll also lose the edge in the tiebreaker. And since Latvia and Denmark play each other in the final game, three points will definitely be distributed between those two teams.

• If Canada beats Latvia in regulation today, they're guaranteed a QF spot. But we won't know if they're playing here in Herning or travelling to Copenhagen until after Tuesday's game.

• In the worst-case scenario, if Canada was to lose in regulation to both Latvia and Germany, they'd drop all the way to sixth because the Germans would hold the tiebreaker.

Canada's biggest issue so far has been goaltending against the stronger teams. Darcy Kuemper struggled off the top in the opener against the U.S. and Curtis McElhinney was shaky against Finland—he was pulled after giving up three first-period goals on nine shots.

Germany and Latvia haven't scored a ton, but have been strong defensively, so I'm not counting out the possibility of seeing upsets here.
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