By Tomi Rantanen
Canada hosting Team Europe in World Cup of Hockey Finals Game 1
The first meeting between the World Cup finalists is played today in Toronto. While it was clear from the start that Canada would be taking part in the final, tonight’s opponent is a real dark horse of the tournament. A team that no one rated whatsoever, consisting of eight different European nations, surprised both USA and Czech Republic in their group and went on to remarkably beat Sweden in the semi-final after overtime. What comes to Team Canada, they’ve done exactly what was expected and dominated each and every game they’ve played, including beating their tonight's opponents 4-1 in the group stage.
AccuScore simulations didn’t give much hope for Team Europe before the tournament, but after solid displays against the US and Czech Republic, they’ve been on the rise. The simulations show that the 1st final game will be controlled by the Canadians, but Team Europe will hang in there and make it a closer game than the odds makers believe.
In simulations Team Canada wins outright with 75.3% probability and in regular time with 64% probability. They dominate the shooting department with a hefty 36 shots on goal, but Jaroslav Halak minding the net for Team Europe provides his team a chance to win. Despite Halak’s efforts, Team Canada scores on average 4.8 goals in the game, while Team Europe manages to beat Carey Price 2.9 times. With the skill level both teams possess, it certainly looks like a proper goals galore!
Team Canada captain Sidney Crosby leads the scoring race of the tournament with seven points and is the most likely player to score at least a point in the first final game as well. Simulations have Crosby on the score sheet with 64% probability. Team Europe might counter Crosby with an elite level shadow, if Anze Kopitar will serve as Crosby’s overcoat. Kopitar, however is the most likely point producer for Team Europe, with 58% chance to score at least one point in the game.
As it stands, Canada is a clear favorite to win the game (and the tournament) but Team Europe might put up a fight. They have nothing to lose.