So, Switzerland has been eliminated at the quarterfinals stage by Canada in a very painful way. But it would be wrong to analyze all the World Ice Hockey Championship based only on that darn 4 tenth of a second… it’s true that currently those bloody four tenth of a second are still in our mind, but it’s more correct to look at the whole picture of the 2019 worlds. Therefore, we’ll try to analyze our guys’ tournament.

2019 WORLD ICE HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP – ANALYSIS SWITZERLAND

It all started with that walk in the park against Italy – 9-0 win – and it all ended that bitter way we all know against Canada at the quarterfinals stage when we suffered a 3-2 overtime defeat.

In between, our guys won the game they “had” to win – and it might not have been so self-evident – but weren’t able to win a game against the “top guns” Sweden, Russia, Czech Republic and, unfortunately, Canada.

They made it to the quarterfinals for the third consecutive year though, and this is something that hasn’t happened since earlier this century (2003-2005). We mean, one way or another, they wrote a piece of history. A nice history by the way, because other than a third consecutive qualification for the quarterfinals, Switzerland once again made its fans proud. And we think, it made also itsel proud.

For the following reasons…

WHAT DID WORK

Team Spirit

The first thing that comes to our mind when we think about this 2019 version of Switzerland, it’s team spirit. From the outside, we had the impression that the players formed a very tight-knit group! The players said so during countless interviews, and their words were surely not empty ones. It was enough to look at the players’ body language, at their will to never give up, at their spirit of sacrifice, at their pride to wear the Swiss jersey and to SING the National anathem!

Moreover, when we see that there are NHL players who are eager to join the team after an endless season… well, it’s abundantly clear that the National Team’s coaching staff has been doing a terrific job over the years to create a group of real men!

Performances

We think Switzerland’s performances were excellent. Patrick Fischer’s troops gifted us with a modern, fast and catchy hockey. The players made some mistakes along the way, of course. But the Swiss were very resourceful and faced every opponent head-on. The performance delivered against Sweden was fantastic. The performance delivered against Canada was very clever in our opinion, on the understanding that it was inevitable to suffer during the last period.

Defense

Switzerland is not very defensive-minded… actually, the Swiss are quite attacking minded. At the same time, however, they’re rock solid. That’s because the coaching staff was able to find the perfect role for each player, and each player plays his role at best. Both the forwards and defensemen did a great defensive job also thanks to the pressure they put on their opponents.

Winning mindset

Patrick Fischer together with his staff is trying to build a winning mindset and in our opinion he’s doing a great job in this regard. To have a “winning mindset” it doesn’t mean to win all the games… that’s impossible for any team in the world. But it means to play each game with every intention to win and not only with the intention to avoid a defeat. Ergo, Switzerland are improving game by game in our opinion!

Yet, as we said, you can’t win ‘em all. That because it’s inevitable to make mistakes every now and then. Therefore let’s see, in our opinion, which are the things that didn’t work perfectly in Slovakia.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE BETTER

Power-play’s efficiency

It’s a fact that Switzerland didn’t put enough pucks in the net during power-play opportunities. We still think – since the beginning of the tournament! – that, ofentimes, Patrick Fischer’s troops were able to move the puck around very well and were able to create good scoring changes. The puck, however, struggled to go in the back of the net for a reason or another. Paradoxically enough then, during the last game against Canada, our guys put as many as two pucks in the net during power-play opportunities… but, exactly paradoxically enough, the first power-play goal against Canada came during a power-play opportunity almost mishandled. That’s to say that at times it’s only a matter of details. That’s why we can’t say that the Swiss’ power-play didn’t work… Let’s just say that during the tournament in Slovakia the power-play wasn’t effective enough.

Consistency

Switzerland isn’t always able to be consistent throughout the 60 minutes of play. It’s unthinkable, in fact, to be constantly at the top of your game for the whole game all the time… but the truth is, that the Swiss almost always pay a high price when they’re not at the top of their game. They should find the way to handle the moments during which discipline is lacking.

Opponents

This is not something that can improve… but rather it’s a fact. Latvia for example is doing always better and is a tough nut to crack. Sweden won against us… at the end of a fantastic game during which details made the difference, but was able to turn the details in its favour. Against Russia instead, we didn’t even see the puck for long stretches of the game. Canada, even though equalized at only 4 tenth of a second to the end, proved stronger. All this to say that, regardless of our guys’ performances, there are very strong opponents out there. You can’t always only say what Switzerland did wrong or bad when it comes to defeating… at times it’s fair – coherend and honest – to recognize the opponents’ value.

THE STAR

The NHLrs brough in quality and quantity. Leonardo Genoni was like a wall between the pipes. Tristan Scherwey, Gaëtan Haas and Simon Moser did a great job at the Worlds. Andrés Ambühl made clear that he still got a lot to give to ice hockey. Philipp Kurashev and Janis-Jérôme Moser were impressive considering their age. It’s difficult to pick a real “star”… therefore, we symbolically reward…

Patrick Fischer (and the staff)

It’s likely that those who still criticize Patrick Fischer as a coach do it on principle… the truth is that Patrick Fischer – and all the staff of the National Team with him – was able to take Switzerland to the next level. We’ve been through the Ralph Krueger era… Switzerland established itself in the top division with the Canadian (naturalized German) coach. After him, it was Sean Simpson’s turn… who made us savour the prestigious result. Then, there was the unlucky spell with Glen Hanlon… but finally, Patrick Fischer was able to give consistency to the great results. The misstep at the 2018 Olympics was the exception that proved the rule.

SPECIAL MENTION

Alessio Bertaggia

Alessio Bertaggia played… 0 minutes at the 2019 Worlds in Slovakia. But he’s chosen to stay with the group after Nino Niderreiter had accepted to join the team. Well, Alessio’s attitude says it all about the value of the person. And it says it all about how this National Team is a really tight-knit group!

QUESTION: IS SWITZERLAND CLOSE TO THE BIG GUNS?

Here we are, it’s always the same question. Is Switzerland getting closer to the big guns? Frankly speaking, we’re getting bored about this question. Switzerland is already a big gun!

Then again, if for “big gun” you mean a team at the level of the “top five/six”… well, Switzerland is not there yet. And it’s likely that it will never be, even if only because of the pure numbers (players).

Switzerland is a great team who improved a lot and that each year can fight for the medals. But frankly speaking, probably it’s impossible – also in the future – to reach the level of Canada, Sweden and Russia. Guys, these teams could line-up four different rosters and they would still be competitive…

We do not mean that Switzerland will never win a gold medal. Actually, we’re pretty sure that one day the Swiss will be World Champions. But anyway, regularly, we still think that anything that comes more than a quarterfinal is pure gold.

Not even Sweden and Canada win a medal every year. Why should Switzerland?

The truth is that being an “outsider” is our dimension and it will probably always be like that. It’s already a great achievement though. Let’s take what happened with Greece and Leicester City in football… they wrote two very nice histories. Two great stories with a happy ending. But then? They went back to their real dimension.

Switzerland on the contrary, currently found its dimension… the one of the great team, right behind the top guns. Switzerland is a team who can fight for the medals every season… but it’s also a team who needs to be constantly at the top of its game to achieve great results.

We see nothing wrong with that. And we don’t think this is a lack of “ambition” but only a fact. And then again, where is it written that Switzerland MUST become a “big gun”?

And if there is someone out there disappointed about Switzerland’s campaign in Slovakia… well, with all due respect, we think it’s very ungenerous.

OUR CONCLUSION

So, also the 2019 World Ice Hockey Championship is over, at least for us. It was concluded perhaps in the worst possible way… the defeat suffered against Canada in fact, for the way it came, it darn hurts and it’s easy to assume that today the hole National Team – players and staff – are downhearted to say the least.

There was not a win against a “big gun”, true… but we don’t think we can understate the value of what Switzerland did in Slovakia. The Swiss did a great job during the World Ice Hockey Championship and made clear one more time that they are always ready to sell their lives dearly.

And if there is someone saying that our guys “only” did their job because they won only against the teams they had to defeat and then lost against Sweden, Russia, Czech Republic and Canada… well, we really don’t know what to say. We think it’s a very non-constructive and narrow-minded point of view. We repeat ourselves, but it should always be considered that there are also strong opponents out there who play with every intention to win games.

As we said last week, suffice it to see how Russia faced us during the Group stage. The Russians surely didn’t underestimate us and played at the top of their game. That’s a sign that now the “big guns” respect us and perhaps even fear us a little… all this, at least currently, is worth more than a medal (unless it’s a gold one). Because it means that the silver medals won by Switzerland in 2013 and 2018, were not seen by the rest of the world as a “one-off”… but other teams see it as the reward for the terrific job that has been done over the years this century that made us become the best team behind the top guns…

Thank you very much Switzerland, once again you made us proud!

To see Swiss hockey players singing the National anathem and playing for the flag on the front and not the name on the back was fantastic. And then once again, for the last time we want to shout out loud…

HOPP SUISSE!!

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