Denmark adds to craziness at hockey worlds

While Denmark deserves all the credit for putting itself in position to reach the quarter-finals for the first time, Friday's shocking 6-0 spanking of Slovakia just shows how unpredictable the 2010 world hockey championship has been.
Denmark players celebrate their 6-0 thrashing of Slovakia on Friday. ((Juergen Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images))

Nashville Predators general manager David Poile did a double take.

"Denmark over Slovakia?'' said a surprised Poile.


Led by Peter Regin of the Ottawa Senators, who scored on the first shot of the game, Denmark shocked Slovakia 6-0 in the second round of the world championship tournament on Friday.

Denmark's first three shots went in and they never looked back, earning their third victory in four games. The Slovaks joined the United States and Finland on the list of Denmark's victims.

That's the same Denmark that has a scant 22 covered arenas and about 4,100 hockey players — men, women and children — and is ranked 13th in the world by the International Ice Hockey Federation.

It's little wonder that people are quietly saying that Denmark might be the Montreal Canadiens of the world championships, the team that nobody could guess would have the success it has had here at the 16-team tournament.

While Denmark deserves all the credit for putting itself in a prime position to advance to the quarter-finals for the first time ever, the spanking of Slovakia just shows how crazy and unpredictable the 2010 world championship has been.

Upsets the norm

The tournament opened with Germany beating the United States for the first time ever, 2-1 in overtime in front of 77,803 fans inside a Bundesliga soccer stadium.

By the end of the first week of competition, upsets were becoming the norm.

The Americans lost 2-1 to Denmark in overtime, and Norway slipped by Jaromir Jagr and the Czech Republic 3-2 for its first win in 18 games and 73 years over the Czechs at the world championship or Olympics.

Not to be outdone, Switzerland had reason to celebrate after beating Canada 4-1 for its first victory over the Canucks in 76 years. The teams had previously played 24 times at the world tournament, with Canada winning 22 times along with two ties.

Has parity spread its wings to the IIHF's showcase event?

In part yes, and in a larger part no.

Russians vow to win

The small European teams have made great strides and no one should ever take the Swiss for granted. But the results speak as much to the absence of top players at the showcase event than anything else.

The Russians are favored to win their third straight world title. They added Pavel Datsyuk and Sergei Gonchar to a roster that includes 12 players who played at the Vancouver Olympics. The Russians vowed at the end of the Winter Games to make amends at the world tournament and it is hard to see anyone stopping them. Then again, they do play Denmark on Sunday.

While on the subject of the Russians, there is a video making the rounds here of what looks like Russian hockey players puffing away on cigars and cigarettes in a downtown bar. The Russian media smell their version of a scandal, and all coach Vycheslav Bykov could say was that his players were not involved, although "clones" of some of his players are in the video.

Canada woke up after being tied 1-1 with Norway at end of the first period and scored seven times in the second in a 12-1 win Friday.

Meanwhile, the United States starts down the road to avoid being relegated to the world B pool when it plays Kazakhstan on Saturday.

The gold medal game is next Sunday, and maybe Denmark will have its Miracle on Ice.

The way things are going, who knows?