Four Blackhawks will be suiting up in the opening game Sunday at the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto. Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov of Russia will face Niklas Hjalmarsson and Marcus Kruger of Sweden at 2 p.m. CT before Team North America faces Ville Pokka and Finland in the second game.
The first game should be an interesting matchup between Russia's firepower and Sweden's stellar defense. Panarin and Anisimov are part of a stacked forward group that also includes Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Vladimir Tarasenko and Nikita Kucherov.
Sweden, meanwhile, has a ridiculous defense with Hjalmarsson, Victor Hedman, Erik Karlsson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Anton Stralman and Mattias Ekholm, plus Henrik Lundqvist in net. The Swedes have so many good defensemen that they've scratched Hampus Lindholm.
So that should be a lot of fun -- definitely more than Team USA's brutal 3-0 loss to Team Europe on Saturday afternoon.
Team North America's young star-laden roster highlights the second game. We could go on for hours about why that team is so exciting, and while Finland is talented in its own right, it'll be interesting to see whether the Finns can contain the speed and scoring of the U-23 team.
World Cup coverage for Sunday
Team Russia vs. Team Sweden
Time: 2 p.m. CT
Team North America vs. Team Finland
Time: 7 p.m. CT