For the second-straight IIHF Men's World Championship, the U.S. has a chance to not only win five-straight games in preliminary-round play, but secure a quarterfinal berth when it takes on Germany. Last year, the U.S. went 3-1-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) before defeating Germany, 3-1, off a Dylan Larkin game-winning goal. All-time, the U.S. is 11-0-1-4-3 (W-OTW-OTL-L-T) in 19 meetings against Germany.
A win today would give the U.S. five preliminary-round regulation wins for just the third time after doing so in 2017 and 2013. In 2017, the U.S. lost its tournament-opener, 2-1, to Germany before claiming six-straight wins to close group play. Four of the last five IIHF Men's World Championships in which the U.S. has won five or more games in regulation, the U.S. has skated away with a bronze medal (2004, 2013, 2015, 2018). The only time the U.S. failed to medal with five or more regulation wins in tournament play was 2017 (Finland, 2-0 QF loss).
TEAM USA FOCUSED ON OWN BUSINESS
Team USA (4-0-0-1) enters today ranked second with 12 points. While other game results can help the U.S. secure a quarterfinal berth, the team's stance is to take care of their own business. A single point earned tonight or tomorrow (vs. Italy) will secure a quarterfinal berth as only Finland (15pts; 18 possible), Germany (9pts; 15 possible) and Kazakhstan (10pts; 13 possible) are capable of reaching 13 points or more in group play.
Today's game will feature a few current/future teammate connections between the U.S. and Germany.
Buffalo Sabres (2): Tobias Rieder (GER), Tage Thompson (USA)
San Jose Sharks (4): Leon Bergmann (GER), Sasha Chmelevski (USA), Ryan Donato (USA), Kevin Labanc (USA)
Detroit Red Wings (2): Moritz Seider (GER), Piet VanZant (USA, athletic trainer)
In addition to the above-mentioned connections, the four LA Kings players (Trevor Moore, Cal Petersen, Matt Roy and Christian Wolanin) skating for Team USA are coached during the season by Marco Sturm, assistant coach with the Kings. Sturm, a 14-year NHL veteran, served as head coach for Germany at the 2016 and 2017 IIHF Men's World Championships before serving in the same capacity for the German entry that claimed a surprising silver medal at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
FULL TEAM EFFORT
Through five games, 17 different players have contributed at least one point and nine players have tallied at least one goal. In addition, not a single player from Team USA ranks among the tournament leaders in time-on-ice, a credit to the defensive corp providing quality minutes as one full unit. In goal, both Cal Petersen (1.35 GAA, .939 SV%, 1 SO) and Jake Oettinger (1.04 GAA, .960 SV%) rank among the tournament leaders.
As a team, the U.S. leads the tournament in save percentage (.949) and goals-against-average (1.21) while allowing a tournament-best six goals against (only one on the powerplay). In addition, the U.S. was the first team to win four-straight games and the only team to do so with all four coming in regulation.