On Wednesday and Thursday, the 16 participants of the 2010 IIHF World Championship will play their third games of the tournament. Only 12 teams can make it to the Qualification Round, while the remaining four teams will play a round robin to avoid finishing among the last two teams and being relegated.
The three best teams of each group will build two six-team Qualification Round groups with teams from Group A and D staying in Cologne and those from Group B and C staying in Mannheim. The head-to-head games count for the Qualification Round group standings, which means that each team will play three more games against the teams that join from the other Preliminary Round group of the same venue.
Below is the situation for each group after two games for each team.
Group A in Cologne (plays Thursday)
Russia is undefeated after two games and has qualified for the Qualification Round. Belarus cannot finish lower than third.
Slovakia (its last game against Kazakhstan) needs just one point to guarantee a spot in the Qualification Round.
Kazakhstan needs to beat Slovakia by three or more goals because comparing the head-to-head games Belarus is already on the safe side with three points and a +1 goal differential in their games against Kazakhstan (-3) and Slovakia (+2).
A victory in regulation time with less than three goals will also be enough for Kazakhstan if Belarus gets one or more points against Russia.
Group B in Mannheim (plays Wednesday)
Canada and Switzerland have gained six points and play for first place – and points that will be carried over to Qualification Round.
The winner of the Latvia vs. Italy game goes to the Qualification Round, the loser plays in the Relegation Round.
Group C in Mannheim (plays Thursday)
Sweden, with six points, has sealed its Qualification Round participation. Also, the Czechs and cannot finish lower than third place.
Norway needs at least one point against France to make sure they avoid Relegation Round.
France needs to beat Norway by three goals or more to avoid a last-place finish. In the event of three teams ending up with three points, the Czech Republic would already be through with three points and a +3 goal differential. France’s goal differential before their game against Norway is -4, Norway’s +1.
France can also reach third place by winning in regulation time with a margin of less than three goals if the Czechs get at least one point against Sweden.
Group D in Cologne (plays Wednesday)
This is the trickiest of all groups. Just take a look at the standings:
1. Denmark 5
2. Finland 3
3. Germany 2
4. United States 2
Only Denmark has its Qualification Round berth sealed.
Germany needs to beat Denmark in regulation time to reach the top-3 of the group without any help. Gaining only one or two points against Denmark might not be enough but if Team USA doesn’t earn points against Finland, the Germans will be through in any case.
Finland needs a victory with two or three points against the U.S. to guarantee Qualification Round play, as does Team USA. The loser of the Finland-USA game will have to put their hopes on Denmark beating Germany.
Three teams could end up with four points if:
Germany beats Denmark in overtime or a shootout, and
Team USA does the same against Finland.
In that case Finland would finish second, the U.S. third and Germany fourth, according to the teams’ points gained in their head-to-head games.