Canada versus Europe, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
First place in Group A is on the line Wednesday night when powerhouse Team Canada faces upstart Europe in both teams' round-robin finales. Europe, a collage of players from eight countries, stormed out of the gates with a 3-0 upset over Team USA before edging the Czech Republic in overtime, head coach Ralph Krueger finding a way to bring all these spare parts into a cohesive squad. After four periods of pretournament play, when Europe had been outscored 9-1 by the North American kids, it appeared the Europeans were the worst team in the tournament. But, as it turns out, the veteran squad just needed a bit of time to find chemistry and one supposes that makes sense because most of them haven't played together before. They now resemble a patient, experienced team that is not forcing plays but rather waiting for its opportunities. Credit Krueger, the former longtime Switzerland national team head coach who has a bevy of international hockey experience. He's formulated a plan and it's having an impact. Now he locks horns with Team Canada head coach Mike Babcock, the two of them part of the same staff at the Sochi Olympics when Babcock asked Krueger to consult the Canadian group in order to help them adjust to the bigger international ice. So no secrets or surprises between these two coaches.
Line watch: The line of Frans Nielsen between Mats Zuccarello and Marian Gaborik has combined for five points in two games and gave both Team USA and the Czechs fits. No question top-line center Anze Kopitar will have a lot on his plate against Team Canada, but if Europe has a shot it's because Nielsen's line also matches up with success against one of Team Canada's star-studded lines. Speaking of which, Babcock said Tuesday night after the 4-2 win over Team USA that he would likely bring in healthy scratches Claude Giroux and Jake Muzzin, although he didn't confirm who would come out at forward and defense. He did confirm that Corey Crawford would start in goal, spelling Carey Price, and that Braden Holtby would back up and dress for the first time. It makes sense in a back-to-back situation for Babcock to bring in fresh legs, not to mention help lift the spirits of those players who are such huge parts of their NHL teams and no doubt found it difficult to sit out the opening two games of the tournament. I really like this decision from Babcock. -- Pierre LeBrun
North America versus Sweden, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN)
As expected, Team Sweden is succeeding at the World Cup. With victories over Russia and Finland, Sweden is 2-0 and remains one of the favorites to win the best-on-best tournament. Its game is consistent. Its roster is deep. Its goaltender is stellar. As strong as Sweden's defense has been, it will be tested in a different way against Team North America. The speedy, run-and-gun roster of players 23 and under bring an entirely different dynamic than what Sweden is used to seeing. The Swedes experienced it a bit against Russia, but the kids from North America are faster and younger: they will attack, attack and attack in waves, and have the ability to move the puck side-to-side better than most teams. That will be a challenge for Sweden and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to stop. The issue for Team North America will be facing such an experienced team like Sweden, which can play any style of game it wants in order to be successful. Sweden will attempt to drastically slow down the kids.
Line watch: Team North America coach Todd McLellan shuffled his lines a bit in the last game against Russia and shortened his bench. Forwards Jonathan Drouin and Dylan Larkin lost ice time, too. The coaching staff is still waiting for forward Jack Eichel to have an impact. It'll be fun to see how Sweden's line of Carl Hagelin, Marcus Kruger and Jakob Silfverberg match up against any of the units for North America. From a defensive standpoint, the young guns better keep their heads on a swivel because Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman has the speed and physical ability to stop any player in his tracks. -- Joe McDonald