Photo: Emily Russell More than women and girls have been hand-picked to come here. Since last week, they've been on the ice in Lake Placid a couple times a day and training in the weight room.
That might be an understatement.
To be honest, Malkin and Ovechkin did not assert themselves in the round robin until their final game blowout of Sweden.
The Worlds has been quite a stage for the two Nikitas: Kucherov and Gusev, linemates and besties since their prepubescent days with the Belye Medvedi Polar Bears sport club in Moscow.
They have combined for an astounding 27 points by playing keep away, give and go, and dangle-snipe-celi. Undefeated Russia has a goal differential that defies belief: 36 goals for, seven goals against though seven games.
Russia vs. USA, an opening quarterfinal is all sizzle and no steak. Seven dominant games have demonstrated how the Russian players treasure IIHF medals, while Patrick Kane and the Americans have had their fill of old-Europe culture for now.
They appear eager to get home to the conveniences that accompany NHL millionaires.
One more discouraging word for the Yanks—sniper and on-ice leader Dylan Larkin is nicked up from blocking a heavy shot versus Canada.
He should be able to rehab back in Michigan soon enough. But based on the mediocrity displayed by both teams in the latter stages of the round robin, this quarterfinal still might not separate pretender from contender.
Defending world champion Sweden just got its doors blown off by Russia , and dropped its opener against the Czechs.
In between the Swedes narrowly escaped upsets from both Switzerland and lowly Latvia. But despite its classic colors and fan mania, on ice the champion looked wobbly. The Finns big victories all came in the early going, including their upset of Canada.
Suomi team management has forsaken the help of NHL players, insisting that the group of Finnish Elite League players gel for a month of training before the Worlds.
Winger Juho Lammikko leads the squad with 40 NHL games this season, but he has been invisible thus far. This Nordic quarterfinal should come down to goaltending, as it so often does in playoff hockey.
He will face future hall-of-famer Lundqvist feet away during their clash. Get the best hockey news straight to your inbox.
Just ask Northern Michigan: 18 WCHA wins last year, 21 overall, yet a dismal non-conference record cost them their tourney bid. This season, the Robert Morris Colonials have found a great one. Keep following the WCHA action as in-conference play begins in earnest with several key matchups on the slate.
The upcoming week brings a huge slate of games as in-conference competition begins in earnest. Half a decade of futility. As always, be sure to check out our full event schedule to see the other college puck we've got with the WCHA and Big Ten.