By Alan Adams
PRAGUE – Ryan Smyth has seen enough crossover games to last him a lifetime.
So when Canada plays Finland in the quarter-finals of the World Hockey Championship on Thursday he knows
there’s little to no room for error.
“We all know it is a do or die situation and everything is magnified,” said Smyth after practice on
Tuesday. “And it is a matter of maintaining great focus and momentum changes in the game lots of time and it
is just a matter of fighting through those situations.”
“It comes down to one game and it is going to be tight checking both ways and when you get your
opportunity you have to make sure you bury it. If you get up one, you want to get up two. You want to
separate that margin and go to another level.”
The Canadians had an upbeat practice and there were so signs of any lingering effects of a 6-2 loss to the
Czech Republic the night before.
The medal round of the world tournament begins on Wednesday on two fronts. The Czech Republic plays the
United States and Sweden goes against Latvia.
On Thursday, Canada plays Finland and Slovakia meets Switzerland.
For the eight remaining teams, it’s a Game 7 situation from here on in and the team which wins its next three
games leaves the Czech Republic as world champion on Sunday.
“There is no real feeling-out process whatsoever,” says defenceman Scott Niedermayer, who knows a thing or
two about Game 7 situations, having played many of them as a member of the New Jersey Devils. “You step right
into a Game 7 situation.”
Smyth was in Helsinki last year when Canada beat Germany on an Eric Brewer overtime goal in the crossover
He was in Sweden in 2002 when Slovakia eliminated the Canadians in the quarters and he doesn’t have to be
reminded about the overtime loss to the United States in 2001 in Germany.
The Finns are a solid opponent. They’re second to the Czechs in goals scored and they are getting
contributions from all lines.
Outside of the United States, they play the closest to the North American brand of hockey of anyone in the
tournament. The Canadians can expect a physical game but not as chippy as they had with the Czechs when
emotions spilled over a couple of times.
The last time the Canadians played Finland in a medal round game at the worlds was in 2000 in Russia and the
Finns won 2-1. But Canada beat Finland 2-1 in the quarter-finals of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Smyth expects a solid game from both teams.
“It will be an intense game and the intensity is a huge part of the qualification round,” said Smyth.