Rangers teammates are Worlds apart today

Four Blueshirts begin medal-round play

Wednesday, 05.14.2008 / 12:56 AM / News
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Rangers teammates are Worlds apart today
MORE ON RANGERS AT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Lundqvist shines as Sweden routs Denmark
Tyutin a winner in first game for Russia
Russians edge Swedes in final seconds
Lundqvist stops 36 shots to beat Czech Republic
Dubinsky erupts for hat trick vs. Norway

NOTE:
Catch video highlights from the World Championships online at wcsn.com

Less than two weeks ago, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and defenseman Michal Rozsival were teammates facing elimination against Pittsburgh. Today, at the 2008 World Championship tournament in Quebec City, they are again facing elimination -- against each other.

Henrik Lundqvist
Lundqvist's Swedish team faces Rozsival's Czech squad at 1 p.m. in the first of four quarterfinals set for today. The game is a rematch of one played just three days ago in the qualifying round. Sweden won that game 5-3 behind 36 saves from Lundqvist, but in the final Group E standings, the Czechs took the No. 2 seed by virtue of a 3-1-1 record that left them ahead of the Swedes, who went 3-2-0 in the qualifying round.

This afternoon's matchup will be an emotional game for both Rozsival, competing in his first World Championships, and Lundqvist, who has yet to win gold at the Worlds. Two years ago, Lundqvist was a key member of the Swedish team that won Olympic gold at Torino, Italy, but he did not rejoin the team for the 2006 World Championships, where Sweden again won it all. That was a huge victory for Sweden, which had not won a world crown since 1998.

Michal Rozsival
The Czechs are also no strangers to World Championship medals, having won four of the last nine golds. They also captured the silver medal in 2006, when they lost to Sweden – making today's game a chance for the Czechs to pay Sweden back for that defeat, as well as the one on May 11.

Two other Rangers will see quarterfinal round action today. Fedor Tyutin will skate for Russia against Switzerland at 7:15 in Quebec City, and Brandon Dubinsky will play for Team USA in its grudge-match game against Finland..

The only game not involving a Rangers player in today's quarterfinals is the second matchup between defending champion Canada and Norway at 3:30 p.m. in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Canadians have plowed through the tournament to date, winning all five of their qualifying-round games in regulation. One of their toughest games came against 1-3-1 Norway, however, as Team Canada needed a late power-play goal from Rick Nash to finish off the Norwegians 2-1 on May 8.

Complicating matters for Canada today is the absence of star forward Eric Staal, the older brother of Rangers defenseman Marc Staal. The Staal brothers' grandfather, John Staal, passed away earlier this week, and the funeral is scheduled for today. Pittsburgh's Jordan Staal, the youngest of the three Staals currently in the NHL, is flying back from the Penguins-Flyers playoff series to attend the funeral.

Fedor Tyutin
Today's third game involves the tournament's only other unbeaten team, Russia, which has had to work overtime for two of its five victories.

The Russians will face Switzerland (3-2-0) in a rematch of Monday's qualifying-round game, which Russia won 5-3. Tyutin, one of the younger defensemen on a very deep Russian team, has seen limited ice time compared to his normal amount with the Rangers, but is the only Blueshirts player who has yet to lose a game in this year's tournament.

The Russia-Switzerland game will begin at 7:15 in Quebec City. Also getting under way at that time is what promises to be an emotional game between Finland and Team USA.

Dubinsky, coming off a hat trick in a rout of Norway, will look to add to his scoring totals against a Finnish team that beat the Americans 3-2 on May 12, thanks in part to a controversial goal by defenseman Ville Koistinen.

Brandon Dubinsky
Trailing 2-0 in the third period, the Finns rallied for three straight goals to topple the Americans. Video replays clearly showed that Finland's first goal, scored by Koistinen from the right faceoff circle, was actually a wide shot that entered the net through the curved area just outside the goal post. Officials allowed the goal to stand, however, and emotions finally boiled over at the end of the game, when a fight broke out.

Now Dubinsky and the other Americans will look for some revenge and a berth in Friday's semifinal round. Should Team USA beat Finland tonight, they would have an opportunity to play for a rare medal at the World Championships.

The U.S. won bronze in both 2004 and 1996, but those are the country's only medals in the past 35 years. Should they win in the semifinals an even more historic opportunity would await, since no Team USA squad has captured gold in a non-Olympic year since 1933.