When Christmas arrives, the hockey world is aware of the IIHF World Junior Championship is simply across the nook. This yr, Christmas Day really marks the beginning of the competitors.
Ten groups head to a bubble to compete for nationwide delight and bragging rights whereas setting their sights strictly on a gold medal. There are a couple of large variations this time in comparison with prior tournaments and a few contemporary ice-related storylines to keep watch over because the puck drops on the event.
Here is a fast take a look at the highest 4 issues to observe.
High 4 storylines for the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship
How will COVID-19 influence the event?
One of many largest storylines earlier than anybody even headed to Edmonton, Alta., was how COVID-19 had impacted various groups. Germany, the USA, Canada and Austria all misplaced key gamers whereas the Swedes not solely misplaced gamers however the majority of their teaching employees. Then when the Germans and Sweden acquired to the bubble they needed to prolong quarantines leading to a shift of the exhibition schedule as each groups weren’t eligible to play.
Sweden is out of the bubble and has had a couple of practices beneath their belt — even one was run by the crew physician when the vast majority of the crew needed to keep on with their particular person resort rooms. Nonetheless, the Germans have been crushed and consequently will solely have 14 skaters and two goalies for a minimum of the primary two video games of the tourney. These video games had been already a tall process as they’re set to face off towards the highest two groups of your group, Finland and Canada, in a back-to-back.
Can the Canadians push previous the lack of Kirby Dach?
Hockey Canada skated in its solely tune-up for the world juniors once they met Russia on Wednesday. Every little thing was going nice within the 1-0 win towards a high contender for gold till captain Kirby Dach collided with a Russian within the impartial zone and left the sport — and subsequently the event — with a wrist damage.
Dawson Mercer on the Kirby Dach information: “It is clearly horrible information for us w/ Kirby. I believe he is an unbelievable participant however that may occur at any time when. I believe we’ve lots of leaders & guys who can step up within the room. We’ll do no matter we will. We acquired to maneuver previous it.”
— Mike Morreale (@mikemorrealeNHL) December 24, 2020
It is a big-time loss for the Canadians as Dach is a bonafide NHLer after spending the 2019-20 season (after which bubble hockey) with the Blackhawks. He was slotted on the highest line and was anticipated to be a key cog within the crew’s offensive machine.
So how will Canada reply? The roster is extremely deep with, now, 19 of 24 gamers having been drafted within the first spherical however Dach was additionally a frontrunner on the bench and within the locker room for head coach Andre Tourigny.
Canada doesn’t have a troublesome group stage so the lack of Dach is probably not felt till New Yr’s Eve once they face Finland or within the playoffs. Time will inform how’ll they reply.
Will Cole Caufield put the ghosts of 2020 behind him and dominate?
Cole Caufield had a tough journey to the Czech Republic final yr. Expectations had been excessive for the American to dominate the competitors. As an alternative, he notched simply two factors in 5 video games as Group USA was knocked out within the quarterfinals.
In response to NHL Community’s Dave Starman, Caufield has been primed for redemption since final January and he appeared fairly able to go within the crew’s exhibition recreation.
How he goes is how USA Hockey will go for the following 12 days. One in all eight returnees from final yr’s disappointing squad, all eyes will probably be on him to showcase the ability he brings to the College of Wisconsin and someday the Montreal Canadiens. For now, a bit drive to show the naysayers unsuitable isn’t a nasty factor.
Who would be the younger star of this yr’s event?
A variety of kids will probably be trying to make their mark and showcase their high-end expertise for NHL scouts (who will probably be watching, like followers, from afar). Finland has a younger stud in ahead Brad Lambert who’s already thought-about a high choose in 2022.
As for the draft arising in simply seven months, maintain your eyes on the American Matthew Beniers, Swedish netminder Jesper Wallstedt — who’s trying to following an extended line of high netminders from Scandanavia like Henrik Lundqvist — and the Czech Republic’s stable defenseman Stanislav Svozil.
Which participant will rise to the highest and switch the draft on hits head is all the time a enjoyable facet observe to the event.
World Juniors 2021: Newest information