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2015 IIHF World Championship: here comes the medal round

The preliminary round of the 2015 IIHF World Championship is coming to a close, and the Arizona Coyotes will be well represented in the knockout stage.

Matej Divizna/Getty Images

The preliminary round of the 2015 IIHF World Championship is drawing to a close, and almost every single member of the Arizona Coyotes is on pace to play in the medal round.

The top four teams in each group are the ones that advance to the quarter-finals. And as of now, the Germans are the only team with any Coyotes on the roster to not be in that top four (and Germany currently sits in fifth place behind Switzerland, so it is mathematically possible they could make it in as well).

Let's take a look at how each individual Coyote is doing with just a couple of preliminary games to go:

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Sweden

Ho hum, OEL leads the tournament in points by a defenseman. Same old, same old.

OEL now has a goal and seven assists in just six games of competition. His latest assist came on a game winning overtime goal by the Nashville Predators' Filip Forsberg versus Switzerland on Saturday.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson is having a year to remember. Hopefully the rest of the NHL is paying attention.

IIHF Statistics - 1 goal, 7 assists in 6 GP

Tobias Rieder - Germany

Rieder has yet to tally a goal of his own for the Germans as they keep their slim medal round hopes alive following a 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic earlier today. Rieder had the only assist on Germany's second goal of the game.

Overall, Tobias Rieder has three assists in six games for the Germans. His last game of the preliminary round is against Austria on Monday, and if Germany has any hope of moving on to the next round, they will need to win and win big: they currently are 12 behind Switzerland in goal differential. So if Rieder was going to have a career day, tomorrow might nog be a bad time.

IIHF Statistics - 0 goals, 3 assists in 6 GP

Martin Erat - Czech Republic

The Czechs are currently sitting pretty in third place in Group A after beating Germany 4-2 earlier. While Jaromir Jagr continues to be otherworldly, Martin Erat has not produced a whole lot for the Czechs.

Erat has one goal and two assists in six games, and none of those points have come in the Czechs' last three games.

The Czechs are assured of a spot in the medal round, but have one more preliminary game to play versus Switzerland. Erat will have one more chance to get on the scoresheet (and maybe give his teammate Tobias Rieder a helping hand) before facing a difficult opponent in the Quarterfinals.

IIHF Statistics - 1 goal, 2 assists in 6 GP

Mike Smith - Canada

Canadian head coach Todd McLellan has been alternating back and forth between Smith and Los Angeles Kings backup netminder Martin Jones. Neither has looked particularly impressive of late - Jones allowed three goals on 18 shots versus France, while Smith allowed four goals on 28 shots versus Sweden.

Smith managed to rebound a bit earlier today when the Canadians defeated Swtizerland 7-2. Smith turned aside 23 of 25 shots to get the win for Canada.

The upside for both netminders is Canada is good enough where a few allowed goals here or there aren't costing them points. But with the medal round on the horizon, both goalies will need to play better as the stakes get higher.

IIHF Statistics - 4-0-0, .898 SV%, 2.50 GAA in 4 GP

Viktor Tikhonov - Russia

The upside for Martin Erat is that in the "What have you done for me lately?" Sweepstakes, Erat is still not the most underproducing forward to have donned a Coyotes sweater at this tournament. That distinction belongs to Viktor Tikhonov, who has not had a single point since Russia's opening game.

Not that Russia has really needed his offense: Russia is comfortably in to the medal round, and could very easily snag the top spot in Group B at the end of preliminary play. The defending World Champions will be in good position to make a run at another title.

IIHF Statistics - 1 goal, 1 assist in 6 GP

Mark Arcobello - United States

Mark Arcobello remains the only American Coyote to score a goal in the World Championship. His tally came against Russia, and proved to be the game winner. That could prove pivotal for the Americans, who currently sit atop the Group B standings after beating Slovenia 3-1 earlier today.

Still, it has not been a dramatic offensive showing for any American really. If the United States wants to make a run in this tournament, they are going to need to do far better than eke out a 3-1 win over Slovenia or a 1-0 win over Denmark, both of whom face relegation to a lower IIHF tier at the end of the tournament.

IIHF Statistics - 1 goal, 0 assists in 6 GP

John Moore - United States

John Moore still has no points for the United States, though that isn't for lack of trying. He's taken six shots for the Americans, but has just not been able to find twine.

The good news is the Murphy-Moore pairing does not seem to be a defensive liability for the Americans, and Moore has only taken one penalty in the entire tournament. So while Moore would certainly love to be doing more (pun slightly intended) to help the Americans, he's not hurting them either.

IIHF Statistics - 0 goals, 0 assists in 6 GP

Connor Murphy - United States

Connor Murphy is starting to look more and more like the stay-at-home physical defenseman Arizona wants patrolling their defensive end in the future. Unfortunately, he still has a lot to learn and a lot of growing to do, so he's still not quite there.

Regardless, Murphy's play at the World Championship has been competent, if not world beating. The Americans are on to the medal round once again, and will get one final preliminary contest against bubble team Slovakia, which should be a good test for the young defenseman.

IIHF Statistics - 0 goals, 0 assists in 6 GP


Check back later this week for a final recap of the Coyotes' preliminary round performances, as well as previews of the Quarterfinal round to come.