The Canadian team did what they were supposed to do through their first three round-robin matches. Not only were they 3-0 but aside from a bit of a scare against Slovakia, if you can call it that, they dominated their opponents every game. Now, the tournament is really underway as Canada will face their first real test tonight, Go head-to-head against Team Finland, the only other undefeated team in the tournament, in the match that will determine who wins Group A.
One thing I emphasize going into this tournament is the importance Canada plays their best hockey going into this match and having watched them dismantle Switzerland in a 10-0 win on Tuesday I feel confident enough to say Canada is close to them. peak now.
One player definitely playing at the top is Quentin Byfield, who had six points in the win over Switzerland. He is a very special player. He has the perfect combination of size, speed and skill and it has all been showcased at this tournament and after a disappointing performance at World Junior last year, it’s been great to see Byfield find his game this year. He’s a very entertaining player.
Dylan Cozens was excellent too, and that’s something I think I’d say every game for the rest of the tournament, as were two Canadian defenders Bowen Byram and Jamie Drysdale. It really feels like all the Canadian star performers, and there are a lot of them, working on all cylinders now.
They have to defend it and Canada will also need another strong display from Devon Levi, who stopped all 15 shots Switzerland has thrown at him on Tuesday, if they are to beat Finland tonight and win Group A.
There is a lot at stake tonight. A win for Canada will ensure that they don’t have to face either Sweden, the US or Russia in the quarter-finals. That would be huge. Finland will be a motivated group too and they are a very talented team.
As I said before, Finland are the only team unbeaten in the tournament and like Canada, they have strolled through the early stages of the round-robin. Canada is not a second behind at this year’s event, while Finland is only 33 seconds behind.
Finland have a goal difference of +11 through three games and although they haven’t scored as many goals as Canada has, their ability to commit fouls should not be overlooked. Anton Lundell’s Florida Panthers first round has been excellent, with three goals and three assists so far. Me Raty and Kasper Simontaival have also been very good so far in this year’s tournament.
In Blueline, they are strong too. Ville Heinola is a very good prospect and the prospect of Leafs Hat Niemala, who has already collected six points, has been turned off.
Between the pipes, they will likely go with Kari Pirroinen who has scored their two wins already. He has a GAA of 1.50 and SV%.
WHAT I EXPECTED
Finland has a lot of talent but their depth is not nearly as strong as Canada. Still, they’ll have a good fight tonight. It has to be a very tight match. Canada will keep their lineup tonight like on Tuesday when they played Switzerland and that makes sense to me. The group played well and all their lines had really good moments.
Tonight, I’m expecting Canada to win but it will be tight. The biggest areas Canada should look out for are their strength play, who is in 50% of the tournament, and their goalkeeper Devon Levi, who will have his first big test of the tournament tonight. If those two areas are good, then Canada will win this game.
– Oilersnation.com (@OilersNation) 30 December 2020
Dylan Holloway has a bit of an ups and down game in my opinion. He was placed at the top of the team with Dylan Cozens and McMichael and while the trio had some very dominant changes Holloway didn’t stand out that much. He had some good chances and almost hit the ball in a freak rush in the first period. He also drew a penalty, but he was held off the scorer in that win. I don’t think he deserves to be taken off that line at all. I thought the trio did really well.
Phillip Broberg returned to the lineup yesterday in Sweden’s match against Russia and he’s not doing well. He’s clearly struggling through a leg injury and TSN’s Ryan Rishaug speculates that it could be a charlie horse. He’s been beaten many times against Russia and that’s not something we usually see. It will be interesting to see how long it will take him to potentially let this go, but it looks like he will continue to play through it as Sweden head into tonight’s big game against Team USA top of the group in the line.
AROUND THE WJC
Yesterday’s results created a very exciting New Year’s Eve at World Juniors. Russia’s win over Sweden, which ended their 54-winning streak in the round-robin round, means the three teams can still finish top of Group B tonight.
So US plays SWE tomorrow.
If SWE wins (by any means) they win the group.
If USA wins in reg, they win the group
If the US wins OT or SO, RUS wins the group.
– James Duthie (@tsnjamesduthie) 31 December 2020
Today we will also see the Czech Republic take on Austria in the early stages before Canada and Finland will battle for the top spot in Group A.
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