Germany hope that the home fans can give them the boost they need to overcome Latvia and punch their ticket for the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Thomas Greiss has apologized for his likes of controversial Instagram posts.
Only a win will do for head coach Marco Sturm's team when they face Latvia in their last Group A game on Tuesday. Any other outcome would see the Latvians, who are tied on points with Germany, advance to the quarterfinals.
The good news from a German point of view is that the Nationalmannschaft have a good record against Latvia of late, having beaten them in Riga in September to seal qualification for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyongcheong. Germany also faced Latvia in two exhibition matches in preparation for the world championship, losing the first 4-3 in overtime and winning the second 3-2.
However, Latvia, who are two places behind Germany in the International Ice Hockey Federation's (IIHF) men's rankings, have a number of very good players and in the past have proved more than capable of upsetting teams who on paper, they should have no business beating. Not only are they coached by Stanley Cup winner Bob Hartley, but for a country of less than two million, a surprising number of fans also follow the national team to world championships. And this one in Cologne is no exception.
Help needed from the seventh man
This is part of the reason why after Monday's practice, German coach Sturm appealed to the home fans to be their seventh man on Tuesday.
"The fans need to be louder than they have ever been at a world championship," Sturm, a former national team player himself, said.
"Games like this are an awful lot of fun," the captain, Christian Ehrhoff, said."If you had told us prior to the tournament that we would be playing Latvia for a berth in the quarterfinals, we would have taken it."
Germany will also need a big performance from the country's most talented player, Leon Draisaitl, who arrived on Saturday after his Edmonton Oilers were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs. Although by his own account, he did not have his best game against Italy, Draisaitl did chip in an assist and said afterwards that he expected to get better from game to game.
Philipp Grubauer, who also arrived on Saturday after his Washington Capitals were eliminated from the playoffs, is expected to get the start in goal instead of Danny Aus den Birken, who played against Italy ahead of the injured Thomas Greiss.
Greiss apologizes for Instagram likes
Sturm, meanwhile, said he was pleased that Greiss had publicly apologized for "liking" political posts on the social media platform Instagram, including one that compared former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
"He has apologized publicly and that is good," the coach said. "He is now wiser and knows that he shoudn't have done that." Greiss apologized for the likes through his NHL team, the New York Islanders. Even before the apology, Sturm had said the fact that Greiss didn't play against Italy was strictly due to his "upper body" injury and had nothing to do with his activities on social media.