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The IIHF World Championships Start This Morning. We Hoped We Didn’t Have To Care!

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We were hoping not to have to care about this tournament, but another early playoff exit means we get to pay attention to at least one Blue, perhaps some future Blues and an old pal that might come back next season.

The lone current Blues roster player participating in the IIHF World Championships is also the team's top offseason priority. Don't get hurt, Frank!
The lone current Blues roster player participating in the IIHF World Championships is also the team's top offseason priority. Don't get hurt, Frank!
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Hockey's NIT, the 2015 IIHF World Championships, take place May 1st thru 17th in Prague and Ostrava, Czech Republic.

Now, we were HOPING at the beginning of the playoffs that we wouldn't give a shit about this rigmarole, that #OurBlues would not shit the bed in the first round. Alas, here I am, writing a preview including not just some old friends of ours, but one very important piece to the Blues' present and future as well as a piece of intrigue that could have an effect on next year's roster.

For those of you unfamiliar with the format, it goes like this:

  • There are 16 countries participating in this tournament. 14 of the teams are based on the finish from last year's tournament and two are "promoted" from the lower levels. Generally, the host is a country that is part of the 14, but the host is given an automatic bid as well.
  • The 16 teams are split up into two pools. In each pool, there is a seven-game round robin for each team. Each game is worth a total of three points . . . A regulation win gives you three points, an overtime or shootout win two, an overtime or shootout loss one and a regulation loss zero.
  • The top four teams from each pool move on to the quarterfinals of the bracketed portion of the tournament. The two lowest-pointing teams overall (no matter the pool) get relegated to the next lower tier. While the pool portion of the tournament is split among Prague (Group A) and Ostrava (Group B), the entire bracketed portion of the tournament will take place in Prague.

The only current Blues roster player participating in this year's IIHF World Championships is Vladimir Tarasenko, who will (obviously) represent Russia. Most participating teams have either at least one NHL player or prospect on their squad. Obviously, Canada and the United States are fully stocked with NHL players. Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Russia are also stocked with a bunch of NHL talent, though the KHL and other European leagues also greatly influence those rosters.

If you want to keep an eye on something other than Tarasenko, Vladimir Sobotka is a prime candidate. Doug Armstrong mentioned that he would reach out to Sobotka in the offseason. No matter what you think of SobeSobe, at the moment, he owes the Blues one more year of time (unless his rights are traded) and he IS a manageable asset under the control of the Blues. He ended his KHL season injured, but with the tournament in his home country AND with the fact he didn't get the opportunity to play in Sochi due to a more serious injury, there was no way he was going to miss this chance to play for his home country and colors. If he does well in this tournament (and thanks to the injury, this may be a big "if"), it may give the Blues extra incentive to call him back across the pond. Perhaps not, though. Who knows?

Because of the Laissez-Faire make-up of many of these rosters due to that Stanley Cup thing people are playing for here in North America, it's very difficult to gauge a front-runner in this dance. So I'll stay away from the predictions and just hope Tarasenko and Sobotka make it out of the tournament healthy . . . and maybe pot a few goals, if they can. Especially Tarasenko.

Oh, and always, always root for America. Because I do.

There is another "old friend" participating in this tournament. Joakim Lindstrom—or, as our Managing Editor likes to call him, #LuckyLindy (or as I like to call him, #UnluckyLindy)—will participate for Sweden. Yes, really. This likely illustrates how high-quality a tournament we're talking about here.

Over on the German roster, you may notice the name "Nikolai Goc" listed under the Defenseman portion of their roster. Yes, he is the brother of Marcel Goc, as it turns out.

So, cheer on Tarasenko, cheer on Sobotka (maybe) and cheer on America with us . . . if you care enough.

2015 IIHF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS SCHEDULE:

(All times CDT . . . here's the schedule in Czech time and three-letter country code form)

Friday, May 1st:

  • 9:15am - Canada vs. Latvia (Group A, Prague)
  • 9:15am - USA vs. Finland (Group B, Ostrava)
  • 1:15pm - Czech Republic vs. Sweden (Group A, Prague)
  • 1:15pm - Russia vs. Norway (Group B, Ostrava)

Saturday, May 2nd:

  • 5:15am - Switzerland vs. Austria (Group A, Prague)
  • 5:15am - Slovakia vs. Denmark (Group B, Ostrava)
  • 9:15am - France vs. Germany (Group A, Prague)
  • 9:15am - Belarus vs. Slovenia (Group B, Ostrava)
  • 1:15pm - Latvia vs. Czech Republic (Group A, Prague)
  • 1:15pm - Norway vs. USA (Group B, Ostrava)

Sunday, May 3rd:

  • 5:15am - Austria vs. Sweden (Group A, Prague)
  • 5:15am - Russia vs. Slovenia (Group B, Ostrava)
  • 9:15am - Canada vs. Germany (Group A, Prague)
  • 9:15am - Belarus vs. Slovakia (Group B, Ostrava)
  • 1:15pm - France vs. Switzerland (Group A, Prague)
  • 1:15pm - Denmark vs. Finland (Group B, Ostrava)

Monday, May 4th:

  • 9:15am - Latvia vs. Sweden (Group A, Prague)
  • 9:15am - Russia vs. USA (Group B, Ostrava)
  • 1:15pm - Canada vs. Czech Republic (Group A, Prague)
  • 1:15pm - Norway vs. Finland (Group B, Ostrava)

Tuesday, May 5th:

  • 9:15am - Switzerland vs. Germany (Group A, Prague)
  • 9:15am - Denmark vs. Belarus (Group B, Ostrava)
  • 1:15pm - Austria vs. France (Group A, Prague)
  • 1:15pm - Slovakia vs. Slovenia (Group B, Ostrava)

Wednesday, May 6th:

  • 9:15am - Switzerland vs. Latvia (Group A, Prague)
  • 9:15am - Russia vs. Denmark (Group B, Ostrava)
  • 1:15pm - Sweden vs. Canada (Group A, Prague)
  • 1:15pm - Slovakia vs. Norway (Group B, Ostrava)

Thursday, May 7th:

  • 9:15am - Czech Republic vs. France (Group A, Prague)
  • 9:15am - USA vs. Belarus (Group B, Ostrava)
  • 1:15pm - Sweden vs. Germany (Group A, Prague)
  • 1:15pm - Finland vs. Slovenia (Group B, Ostrava)

Friday, May 8th:

  • 9:15am - Czech Republic vs. Austria (Group A, Prague)
  • 9:15am - Slovenia vs. Norway (Group B, Ostrava)
  • 1:15pm - Germany vs. Latvia (Group A, Prague)
  • 1:15pm - USA vs. Denmark (Group B, Ostrava)

Saturday, May 9th:

  • 5:15am - France vs. Canada (Group A, Prague)
  • 5:15am - Belarus vs. Russia (Group B, Ostrava)
  • 9:15am - Austria vs. Latvia (Group A, Prague)
  • 9:15am - Finland vs. Slovakia (Group B, Ostrava)
  • 1:15pm - Sweden vs. Switzerland (Group A, Prague)
  • 1:15pm - Denmark vs. Norway (Group B, Ostrava)

Sunday, May 10th:

  • 9:15am - Germany vs. Czech Republic (Group A, Prague)
  • 9:15am - Slovenia vs. USA (Group B, Ostrava)
  • 1:15pm - Switzerland vs. Canada (Group A, Prague)
  • 1:15pm - Slovakia vs. Russia (Group B, Ostrava)

Monday, May 11th:

  • 9:15am - Germany vs. Austria (Group A, Prague)
  • 9:15am - Finland vs. Belarus (Group B, Ostrava)
  • 1:15pm - Sweden vs. France (Group A, Prague)
  • 1:15pm - Slovenia vs. Denmark (Group B, Ostrava)

Tuesday, May 12th:

  • 5:15am - Canada vs. Austria (Group A, Prague)
  • 5:15am - Norway vs. Belarus (Group B, Ostrava)
  • 9:15am - Latvia vs. France (Group A, Prague)
  • 9:15am - USA vs. Slovakia (Group B, Ostrava)
  • 1:15pm - Czech Republic vs. Switzerland (Group A, Prague)
  • 1:15pm - Finland vs. Russia (Group B, Ostrava)

Thursday, May 14th:

  • 8:15am - Tournament Quarterfinal Round Match (Prague)
  • 9:15am - Tournament Quarterfinal Round Match (Prague)
  • 12:15pm - Tournament Quarterfinal Round Match (Prague)
  • 1:15pm - Tournament Quarterfinal Round Match (Prague)

Saturday, May 16th:

  • 8:15am - Tournament Semifinal Round Match (Prague)
  • 12:15pm - Tournament Semifinal Round Match (Prague)

Sunday, May 17th:

  • 9:15am - Bronze Medal Match (Prague)
  • 1:45pm - Gold Medal Match (Prague)