IIHF changes format for the World Championships starting in 2012

iihf_logo.gifWe know it’s not all that well known or, ahem, respected by most North American hockey fans, but the IIHF is changing the format of their annual World Championships. The old format, which will be used for the last time in 2011 in Slovakia, had four groups of four teams play a round-robin style within their group with the top two teams advancing to the quarterfinals. The new change will make much more sense.

The new championship format will have the 16 teams playing in two preliminary round groups with eight teams in each, using the IIHF World Ranking for seeding. This means that each team will play seven preliminary round games against beforehand known opposition.

The top four teams in each preliminary round group will advance to the quarterfinals. The teams who finished last in each group will be relegated to Division I. Teams placed 5-8 will have no more games.

The new format sees the number of games increase from 56 to 64. Under the current format it takes nine games to become world champion. The new format will call for the two top teams to play ten games.

With the number of games being played increasing, the number of players you can have on your roster will also be increasing as well, from 22 to 25. What this means for the likes of Team USA is even more opportunities for players who maxed out their careers in college or who play overseas to get a chance to represent their country. After all, taking a look at the team the United States put on the ice in Germany in the 2010 World Championships, unless USA Hockey starts taking the yearly international competition more seriously, the roster could get even uglier.

As for the format, it just makes more sense and it opens things up a bit more for the more talented countries to get some breathing room heading into the quarterfinals. It also gives upstart countries more opportunities to try and make a name for themselves by knocking off the Goliaths of the hockey world.

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    Video: Josh Ho-Sang’s creativity gives Islanders a shot in the arm

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    Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?

    For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting up John Tavares.

    The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.

    Auston Matthews’ 33rd goal includes a dash of comedy (Video)

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    This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

    On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

    William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

    Hnnngmgghh indeed.

    That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

    Video: Leafs’ Carrick delivers thunderous hit on Blue Jackets’ Anderson

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    Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs have motivation to win their Wednesday game, but the Maple Leafs need it more.

    So far, it shows, too.

    The Maple Leafs have raced off to a 2-0 lead, with Auston Matthews scoring his 33rd goal of the season. If generating such offense didn’t highlight the urgency, Connor Carrick‘s huge hit on Josh Anderson makes a compelling argument. Witness that big impact in the video above.

    There was also another high-impact moment when Nick Foligno went crashing into the boards:

    Ouch, Blues consider Paul Stastny out week-to-week

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    The St. Louis Blues announced that Paul Stastny is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

    Stastny was limited to less than four minutes of ice time during last night’s 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche. Initially, head coach Mike Yeo indicated that the issue wasn’t serious.

    There are only about three weeks left in the regular season, so it’s tough to tell if “week-to-week” would mean that the Blues will be without Stastny for any playoff time.

    With Stastny out for an expended period of time and other injuries affecting Blues forwards, it sounds like Nail Yakupov gets another chance to prove himself:

    Stastny generated 18 goals and 40 points in 66 games so far this season. He has played more of a defensive role this season (46.2 offensive zone start percentage after being closer to 50 earlier in his Blues days) and has been impressive in the dot, winning 53.8 of his faceoffs.