Jannik Hansen is one of only two Vancouver Canucks at the 2012 World Championship, and one of only four NHL players on Team Denmark. He is also one of the most important players on the team, which has already proven to be true just three games into the tournament.
Hansen was named Denmark’s best player of the game in a 2-0 loss to the Czech Republic, finishing the game with 4 shots on goal from the second line. He also received a 2-minute minor for boarding, however, that turned into a one-game suspension, causing him to miss Denmark’s game against Italy on Sunday.
While 2-0 was a solid result against a team like Czech Republic, the most important games for Denmark at this tournament are against teams like Italy, who they will be battling to avoid relegation. Unfortunately for Denmark, they seemed to sorely miss Hansen against Italy, losing 4-3 in overtime. Even the IIHF thought he was missed, with the following couplet appearing under Denmark in their power rankings:
There once was a guy named Jannik, whose absence created a panic
Denmark’s other NHL players are defenceman Philip Larsen of the Dallas Stars, Lars Eller from the Montreal Canadiens, and Frans Nielsen of the New York Islanders. Eller and Nielsen combined for one goal against Italy, but were unable to lead Denmark past the Italians, who boast no NHL players on their roster. An experienced two-way player like Hansen might have made all the difference in such an important game.
Denmark just doesn’t have the depth of the powerhouse teams in this tournament, such as Sweden, who they faced on Monday. Sweden boasts a bevy of NHL stars, with just 8 players on the roster from outside the NHL. But with Hansen back in the lineup, Denmark gave Sweden a scare and Hansen played a big part.
Sweden rolled out to a 4-0 lead early in the first period before Denmark could even manage a shot on goal. When that shot finally came, Hansen was the one taking it. He also drew the first Danish powerplay, a hooking penalty on Zetterberg, and after a boarding call turned it into a 5-on-3, it was Hansen with the primary assist to Nichlas Hardt to get Denmark on the board.
It didn’t take long for Sweden to reassert control, scoring twice early in the second period, but Denmark shut them down from then on. Then they began chipping away at the lead. Hansen picked up his second assist of the game on Danish captain Morten Green’s 6-4 goal, then poured on the effort as time ticked away. He created a turnover in the Sweden zone, setting up teammate Julian Jakobsen with a glorious chance, but Swedish goaltender Jhonas Enroth made an impressive save. Then, shorthanded, Hansen created another turnover and attempted to break in behind the Swedish defence, but had the puck poked away.
In short, Hansen was noticeable whenever he was on the ice. He was constantly in the right position and skated miles. With this kind of performance against Sweden, it seems certain he would have made a difference against Italy.
Denmark has 4 games remaining in their round robin schedule. Next up is a tough matchup against Russia, but the most important games for them will be against Germany, Latvia, and Norway. If they want to avoid relegation, they’ll need strong performances out of their leaders, including Hansen.