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hongwei28 Sep 14

The hockey world championships have been overshadowed by the Olympic tournament since the 1998 Nagano Games Kenny Britt Jersey , the first to feature NHL players.

Not this year.

The NHL’s decision to skip the Pyeongchang Olympics had an impact. Amid tepid interest in South Korea, the games were often played in half-empty arenas. It will be a different story in Denmark.

The organizers say ticket sales have reached their planned target of 300,000 even before the tournament opens in Copenhagen and Herning on Friday. And there’s no need to worry about a lack of stars. Although Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are busy with their bid for a Stanley Cup three-peat, some of the sport’s biggest names will be on the ice in Denmark.

Canada will be led by NHL leading scorer Connor McDavid after his Edmonton Oilers didn’t make the playoffs, teammate Leon Draisaitl has joined Germany, and the United States will be captained by Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane.

Here’s a look at the annual tournament that will be played in Denmark for the first time:

THE TOURNAMENT

The event has 16 nations playing in two groups of eight, with the top four in each group advancing to the playoffs.

Olympic champion Russia, defending champion Sweden, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Belarus, Slovakia, France and Austria are in Group A. Matches will be played at the Royal Arena in Copenhagen.

Canada Durham Smythe Jersey , Finland, the United States, Germany, Norway, Latvia, Denmark and South Korea are in Group B. They will play at the Jyske Bank Boxen in Herning.

In Friday’s opening games, Canada will take on the United States while Russia faces France.

The final is scheduled for May 20.

THE FAVORITES

Captained by McDavid, who just clinched his second consecutive Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer with 108 points, Canada is the team to beat at the worlds.

McDavid and Wayne Gretzky are the only two players in NHL history to win the scoring race more than once at 22 years of age or younger.

McDavid will be joined by veteran Buffalo forward Ryan O’Reilly. Both were on the team that won the world title in Russia two years ago.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal, who is among the finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy for the NHL’s rookie of the year, was also named in the squad.

”We have a mix of youth, experience and strong leadership qualities among these players as they have represented Canada on the international stage previously from the world juniors up to last year’s championship,” Canada co-general manager Sean Burke said. ”Their previous success and experience can only help us in our ultimate goal of bringing home a gold medal.”

The Canadians Vincent Valentine Jersey , who will again be led by Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters, won the title in 2015 and 2016 after finishing second last year.

RUSSIAN COACH SWAP

In a surprise move less than a month before the worlds, Oleg Znarok stepped down as coach of Russia’s hockey team after leading the country to the Olympic title – its first in 26 years.

Playing as ”Olympic Athletes from Russia” because of the country’s punishment for doping, Znarok’s team beat Germany 4-3 in overtime in the final.

Znarok became coach in March 2014, taking over a team that lost in the quarterfinals on home ice at the Sochi Olympics. The Russians went on to win the world championship gold that year.

He was replaced by Ilya Vorobyov, one of his assistant coaches, but will still work with the team as a consultant.

Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin, who is in a tight Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, won’t be available. But Vorobyov can rely on a mixture of NHL-based players and the home talents from the Russia-based KHL, widely considered the strongest league outside the NHL.

Florida Panthers right winger Evgenii Dadonov and SKA St. Petersburg veteran Pavel Datsyuk are among those to make sure Russia remains a contender for gold, even though a lack of the NHL-experienced defensemen and goaltenders could harm the team’s ambitions.

OTHERS TO WATCH

The United States hopes to improve on last year’s fifth-place finish and has a team strong enough to make it happen.

Kane’s presence will no doubt improve the quality of play. He last played at the world championships in 2008, his first season in the NHL and the last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs, and was in the U.S. team at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics.

Buffalo Sabres rookie and world junior MVP Casey Mittelstadt was prevented from playing by a groin injury Tony Jefferson Jersey , but some others will be there, including a trio who claimed bronze at the 2015 worlds in the Czech Republic. They include Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin, New York Islanders forward Anders Lee and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy.

The Boston Bruins missed a chance to edge even closer to a division title.

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 33 saves, Braydon Coburn and Ryan Callahan both had two assists during a three-goal second period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat Boston 4-0 Tuesday night to move into a tie for the Atlantic Division lead with the Bruins.

”They hadn’t beaten us this year, and they were determined to do that,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. ”The first period, I thought we were clearly outplayed for the most part. I thought the second period we didn’t give up as many quality chances and three of them went in. That’s the way it goes some times.”

Brayden Point, Victor Hedman, Chris Kunitz and J.T. Miller scored for the Lightning, who had lost four of five.

”We want to finish in first place,” Hedman said. ”The first two periods were some of the best hockey we’ve played all year. I was very happy with the way we played.”

Tampa Bay played without star center Steven Stamkos, who left Sunday’s game against Nashville in the second period with a lower-body injury. It hasn’t been announced if Stamkos will play in either of the Lightning’s final two regular-season games.

Tuukka Rask stopped 32 shots for the Bruins Lance Alworth Jersey , who had gone 5-0-4 over their previous nine games. Boston has three regular-season games left.

”They were definitely the better team,” Rask said.

Vasilevskiy stopped a breakaway shot by David Pastrnak in the second, a period that saw Point, Hedman and Kunitz all have goals as the Lightning took a 3-0 lead. Tampa Bay has outscored its opponents 109-72 during the second this season.

It was Vasilevskiy’s eighth shutout this season and first win (1-4-1) in six games against Boston. The eight shutouts set a franchise record.

”When he’s on his game, he’s really hard to beat,” Point said.

Miller scored during a 2-on-1 break early in the third.

”A complete effort by the whole team,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.

Boston won three of four in the season series.

NOTES: Bruins D Brandon Carlo, hurt in Saturday’s game against Florida, will have surgery this week for a fractured left ankle. Recovery time is three to four months. … Boston D Charlie McAvoy returned after sitting out 15 games because of a strained left knee. … Bruins LW Rick Nash (upper-body injury) skated in Boston. … Boston C Tommy Wingels, slashed on the hand in Sunday’s game at Philadelphia, didn’t play. … Tampa Bay D Anton Stralman played in his 700th NHL game.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Complete their road season Thursday night at Florida. Boston closes the regular season at home Sunday with the Panthers.

Lightning: Wrap up the home schedule Friday night against Buffalo.

More NHL hockey:  Womens Dorian O'Daniel Jersey

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