TEAM EUROPE vs. TEAM CANADA
Air Canada Centre, Toronto
Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN, CBC, TVA Sports)
What's at stake:
Control of the best-of-3 World Cup of Hockey 2016 final. If Team Canada wins, it will need one victory in the final two games at Air Canada Centre in Toronto to repeat as World Cup champion. However, if Team Europe finds a way to win, all the pressure will shift to Team Canada, which is a heavy favorite.
The loss of forward Marian Gaborik is a huge blow. Gaborik, who had two goals and led Team Europe with 13 shots on goal in the tournament, injured his foot during the 3-2 overtime win against Team Sweden in the semifinal Sunday. The Los Angeles Kings forward will miss eight weeks, Kings general manager Dean Lombardi told the Los Angeles Times. Left wing Mikkel Boedker, who was a healthy scratch in the first four World Cup games, is expected to take Gaborik's place in the lineup. Defenseman Roman Josi has played a team-high 105:43 in four games, an average of 26:35 per game. Forward Mats Zuccarello's four points (one goal, three assists) lead Team Europe.
Video: Europe on making World Cup final against Team Canada
Since the 2010 Vancouver Olympics there have been few challengers to Canada's supremacy on the international stage. It won gold at Vancouver and then repeated the feat four years later at the 2014 Sochi Olympics with a dominating run that has seen few equals. Now, Team Canada is two wins from winning the World Cup. Few, if any, observers expect them to fail. "Guys are used to this stage, used to the pressure," said forward Joe Thornton. "Canada in general has had incredible results. So nobody is shocked we're here and in this situation. Everyone feels comfortable in this situation." Captain Sidney Crosby's seven points (three goals, four assists) lead the tournament, but Team Canada is very deep when it comes to scoring. It has eight players with four or more points; no other team had more than two, and Team Europe has one (Zuccarello).
Video: Team Canada knows Halak could be a difference-maker
Keep your eye on:
The Team Canada forecheck. If Team Canada is aggressive in its puck pursuit, it could cause problems for the Team Europe defense. In the semifinal, Team Sweden rarely was aggressive in chasing the puck. But when it did, Team Europe had difficulty clearing the defensive zone and committed several turnovers that turned to sustained zone time for Team Sweden.
They said it:
"Obviously we've got to prepare for a team that's playing very well. They're here for a reason. They're playing at the top of their game. Everyone there is committed. They're playing with a lot of pride, and we're going to have to do the right things to succeed. It's not going to be easy. It's going to be a tough week for us and our work is cut out for us." -- Team Canada defenseman Shea Weber on the challenge presented by Team Europe.
Here are the projected lineups:
Brad Marchand - Sidney Crosby - Patrice Bergeron
John Tavares - Ryan Getzlaf - Steven Stamkos
Logan Couture - Jonathan Toews - Corey Perry
Joe Thornton - Ryan O'Reilly - Matt Duchene
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Shea Weber
Jay Bouwmeester - Drew Doughty
Alex Pietrangelo - Brent Burns
Scratched: Claude Giroux, Braden Holtby, Jake Muzzin
Tomas Tatar - Anze Kopitar - Marian Hossa
Mikkel Boedker - Frans Nielsen - Mats Zuccarello
Thomas Vanek - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Jannik Hansen
Tobias Rieder - Leon Draisaitl - Nino Niederreiter
Roman Josi - Dennis Seidenberg
Zdeno Chara - Andrej Sekera
Christian Ehrhoff - Mark Streit
Injured: Marian Gaborik (foot)
Scratched: Luca Sbisa, Thomas Greiss