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Monday World Cup Of Hockey: Czech Republic, Russia, And Must Win Games

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Two early favorites fell behind the eight ball this weekend.

World Cup Of Hockey 2016 - Sweden v Russia Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Russia’s 2-1 loss to Sweden on Sunday was a heartbreaker for Alexander Ovechkin and his team. Having a goal called back with less than seven seconds to play isn’t how you want to wrap up your first game in the tournament (even if it was obviously played with the hand). Russia lacked intensity until it was absolutely needed, and it bit them in the butt. Still, even without much pressure on the Swedes, the Russians played an entertaining game. Today, they’re squaring off with a more entertaining team, Team North America.

Team NA took down Team Finland 4-1 last night courtesy of some incredible play from Jonathan Drouin, Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Johnny Gaudreau, and Nathan MacKinnon. Colton Parayko set up Gaudreau’s tip in tally, representing the Blues better than Jori Lehtera did with his inexplicable high stick of Parayko. Once thought to just be a fun squad to watch, Team North America might prove to be a significant challenge for Russia if the Russians have problems containing their potent offense.

The Czech Republic (or as Chris Chelios still likes to call them, Czechoslovakia) was soundly drubbed 6-0 by Canada Saturday night. Team Europe did some drubbing of their own, beating an embarrassed Team USA 4-0 Saturday afternoon. Team Europe exploited poor play by the Americans. It’s tough to tell how much of the Czech team’s issues were self-inflicted and how much was just Canada’s superior skill and firepower, but I don’t think that anyone expects another blowout game between these two teams.

Team Europe squares off against Team Czech Republic at 2:00 on ESPN and WatchESPN on their website for those of you at work (you’ll need a cable log-in to view). Team Russia and Team North America get the prime-time game on ESPN starting at 7:00.