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World Juniors 2021: Predictions, odds, X-factors, breakdowns for quarterfinal matchups

The 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship hits the medal spherical Saturday with the quarterfinals. The highest eight groups will likely be going head-to-head in 4 single-elimination video games.

Canada nabbed the highest spot in Group A and the event whereas the US received Group B. The Individuals have received now their group six instances since group play was established in 1996. Dare we are saying, this places the 2 North American squads on a collision course. 

Earlier than we get forward of ourselves, these powerhouses have to get via the quarterfinals after which the semis. Within the quarters, they will face the third-best workforce within the reverse bracket, which suggests the US will tackle Slovakia and the Canadians will meet the Czech Republic. 

World Juniors 2021: Quarterfinals predictions

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Canada vs. Czech Republic 

The backstory

Canada steamrolled the competitors in going an ideal 4-0 within the preliminary spherical, however now begins the true event. Its quarterfinal matchup is an fascinating one because the Czechs completed fourth of their grouping but additionally upset the Russians with a surprising 2-0 shutout. As head coach Andre Tourigny famous Friday, they’re not an opponent to take calmly.

“Folks do not give sufficient credit score to the Czechs,” he stated. “[They] we’re within the pool with the U.S., Sweden and the Russians, they’ve solely two gamers on their full roster who usually are not within the plus. Everyone else is even or plus. That is enjoying towards the elite opponent night time after night time, in order that reveals how good they have been at 5-on-5. . . . It is vital to first not give them the possibility to get them on their energy play after which the second is to ensure we all know how good they’re at 5-on-5. They seem to be a actually good 5-on-5 workforce. An elite nation. So we want to ensure we’re humble and we go into that recreation figuring out full properly will probably be a tricky match.”

X-factor: Devon Levi

The Canada goalie has began each recreation (he was pulled towards Germany to get Dylan Garand a while) and allowed simply three targets — all on the ability play. Whereas he has solely confronted 61 pictures, he has made some key stops and been a peaceful and regular presence in web.

“Nope, it stays precisely the identical,” he stated when requested whether or not his mindset has modified now that it is the medal spherical. “I am simply enjoying to offer my workforce the very best probability at profitable. That is what I have been doing thus far and that is what I will proceed doing [Saturday].”

The large quantity: 5

Regardless of having 15 power-play alternatives, Canada has solely punched in 5 targets. The targets got here towards the weaker opponents in its group — two towards Germany and three towards Austria.

SN’s decide: Canada, 5-1

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United States vs. Slovakia

The backstory

The Individuals misplaced their event opener, put it behind them after which went out and received Group B with three straight wins. They’re going to now see the Slovaks, who misplaced all however one recreation — and that was a squeaker towards Switzerland. 

X-factor: Trevor Zegras

The Geese prospect — hypothesis is working rampant that he’ll be a part of the membership after his World Juniors stint — has been on a tear. He has potted 13 factors (six targets, seven assists), together with three factors towards Sweden on Thursday night time.

“Clearly, I believe I am taking pictures the puck extra,” Zegras stated when requested to debate what’s totally different from final yr, when he had no targets and 9 assists within the event. “I believe I’ve a bit of extra confidence in these areas. I am enjoying with two nice gamers in Arthur Kaliyev and Alex Turcotte; they’re placing me in some actually good spots and I am getting fairly fortunate and placing them away.”

The large quantity:  206:35  

The US has not allowed a purpose towards because the lid-lifter towards the Russians on Christmas. Dustin Wolf (one) and Spencer Knight (two) have mixed for 3 straight shutouts. Knight’s back-to-back goose eggs are the primary for an American netminder on the WJC. Head coach Nate Leaman stated he’ll resolve Saturday morning which one will get the beginning.

SN’s decide: United States, 6-0

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Finland vs. Sweden

The backstory

It is the “Battle of Scandinavia” within the quarterfinals. These two groups have an extended historical past, together with final yr’s bronze-medal recreation that noticed the Swedes take the {hardware}. Each groups are coming off losses to one of many “Massive 5” powers; the Three Kings have misplaced two in a row and are spiraling. The back-to-back L’s are the primary by the nation within the prelim spherical within the final 15 years on the event.

X-factor: Anton Lundell

The Finland captain has been a key element to the workforce’s profitable methods. He has potted six factors (three targets, three assists) in 4 video games. Lundell was nonexistent within the workforce’s loss to Canada, however so was nearly all of the workforce. Do not count on that to proceed Saturday. He has seemed good skating alongside linemate and Kings prospect Kasper Simontaival (two targets, three assists) and with the Maple Leafs’ Roni Hirvonen (4 assists) centering the dynamic duo.

The large quantity: 60

Sweden’s penalty kill has not been nice. Whereas these two groups are fairly even statistically, that is one element that might harm the Swedes. They’re tied for eighth at simply 60 p.c effectivity, permitting 4 targets in 10 alternatives. By comparability, Finland is at 86.67 p.c.

SN’s decide: Finland, 3-1

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Russia vs. Germany

The backstory

What a winding highway for the Germans. They entered the event with simply 14 skaters due to quarantine restrictions and subsequently misplaced to Finland and Canada. Then they began getting guys again and handed Slovakia an additional time loss earlier than beating Switzerland on Wednesday. Now the Germans are within the quarterfinals for the primary time (the present format was created in 1996) and wish to preserve the ball rolling.

“I am so happy with the workforce and I believe it is simply particular how all people is working collectively and I believe we completely deserve it,” stated captain Tim Stuetzle.

They’re going to face a stiff take a look at towards a Russian squad that’s backstopped by one of many prime netminders of this age group, Yaroslav Askarov. 

X-factor: Tim Stuetzle

The third general decide in October’s NHL Draft (taken by the Senators) has been a power. Regardless of lacking time for home membership Adler Mannheim following hand surgical procedure, Stuetzle has showcased velocity, gifted stickhandling and a nostril for the online.

The Stuetzle-John-Jason Peterka-Florian Elias line has mixed for 28 factors and the trio is ranked 3-5 among the many event’s scoring leaders.

“I actually prefer it,” Sabres prospect Peterka stated when requested about enjoying with Stuetzle. “I believe we play good collectively and he makes like some unbelievable passes. I am actually excited each time I’m going to [the] nationwide workforce as a result of I [know] I will play with him. I believe we complement one another fairly good.”

The large quantity: 64.71

Germany’s penalty kill is nearly as dangerous because the Swedes’. Not nice if you’re going through a workforce that has firepower, together with on the person benefit. Russia is boasting a 36.36 p.c effectivity, scoring 4 targets in 11 alternatives.

SN’s decide: Russia, 3-2

World Juniors 2021 odds to win gold medal

Staff Odds
Canada +185
USA +275
Russia +325
Sweden +800
Finland +1150
Czech Republic +6500
Slovakia +7000
Germany +7500

Betting odds courtesy of DraftKings as of Jan. 1.

World Juniors 2021 closing picks

Bronze medal: Russia

Silver medal: United States

Gold medal: Canada

MORE: Hockey experts pick who will win gold

World Juniors 2021: Newest information

Event

USA

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