Welcome to the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championships Predictions. Each day, the Last Word on Hockey team will break down and give our 2020 World Junior Hockey Championships predictions for each game in the tournament. This will also include a featured game that should be must-watch hockey. Friday, December 31st’s featured game is Germany vs Russia. This is day six of the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championships.
2020 World Junior Hockey Championships Predictions
Sweden vs Slovakia
Records: Sweden (3-0-0) Slovakia (1-2-0)
Coming off another comprehensive win, 6-2 over Kazakhstan, Sweden has well and truly been the dominant force in Group A. Forwards Nils Höglander and Samuel Fagemo have been outstanding so far and with one round-robin game left, both are looking to catch Trevor Zegras in scoring. Both Höglander and Fagemo are currently sitting on six points, three behind Zegras. Sporting the tournament’s best powerplay and fourth-best shooting efficiency, this Sweden team has been ever so impressive on offence. With so many weapons through-out the lineup and against a lesser opponent in Slovakia, the table is set for their stars Höglander and Fagemo to dominate again.
As for Slovakia, they have been the total opposite of Sweden. Currently sitting last with six goals and a paltry 7.59 shooting percentage, they haven’t been able to generate much offence at all. Outside of Robert Dzugan, the team has just three combined goals and have not converted on several good powerplay chances. In what has been a struggle to compete, the task just gets harder against a stout Swedish penalty kill (ranked first) and solid goaltending.
Safe from a relegation battle, fans can expect the Slovakian team to just want to get through uninjured and look towards getting on the short plane ride home.
Prediction: Sweden Wins 6-1
Finland vs Switzerland
Records: Finland (2-0-1) Switzerland (2-1-0)
With just one point separating these teams and a seemingly consensus victory going to Sweden, both teams will be playing lights-out in order to gain that second seed in the group. Lead by Patrik Puistola, the Raty brother’s and Justus Annunen, the Finns sit equal in both goals-for and against and boast what may be one of the most balanced lineups in the tournament. After a comprehensive 7-1 win over Kazakhstan, spirits must be high.
Switzerland always finds a way to compete in these tournaments. Despite not boasting a rich talent pool, they are a well-coached; well-oiled machine. Forwards Matthew Verboon and Valentin Nussbaumer lead the way with six points each and on the blueline, Janis Moser and David Aebischer both have totaled four points so far. Coming off a 7-2 win over Slovakia, they have to carry some confidence into this game. They have been stellar on both special teams and also boast a high shooting percentage, giving them a good hand up on a terrific Finnish goaltender.
This is Switzerland’s toughest test to date, time to see if these guys are Swiss army knives or made of Swiss cheese.
Prediction: Finland Wins 5-2.
Canada vs Czech Republic
Records: Canada (2-1-0) Czech Republic (1-1-1)
After somewhat getting their mojo back after easing by Germany, Canada will look to finish on a high against the depleted home side. Whilst they are still without Alexis Lafrenière, they do regain assistant captain Joe Veleno back from suspension and should be the better team. They do have some things to work on though, the penalty kill sits at just 69 percent and they have not shot well all tournament. Goaltender has also been an issue both coming into and in the championship itself. Joel Hofer got the start over Nico Daws against Germany and looked much more comfortable. Perhaps problem solved, for now anyway.
When it comes to the Czech’s, they are just holding on. They have now lost their best forward in Jan Jeník to a knee injury, joining Jakub Lauko and Jan Sír on the list of injuries. 2020 NHL Draft first-round hopeful Jan Mysak will have to up his production and goalie Lukas Dostal will have to be better in order to compete. If the Czech’s can get to overtime against Canada and at minimum Russia wins against Germany in overtime, they are safe from the relegation round. This is a very important game for the home nation. Forward Michal Teplý will be the key player here.
Canada should have the weapons to get the job done, but not without a fight.
Prediction: Canada Wins 5-3.
Russia vs Germany
Records: Russia (1-2-0) Germany (1-2-0)
Russia came into the championship with the oldest roster, hoping that a combination of age and World Juniors experience would be a solid foundation to build on. But losses to the USA and the Czech Republic have left them in a bad spot. Even though they had a solid outing against Canada in a 6-0 win, for the most part they have looked like a team that needs a leader.
Grigori Denisenko co-lead the point total last year as an 18-year old, but hasn’t built off that success as yet. Key Winger Pavel Dorofeyev has been up and down the lineup and gun prospect goaltender Yaroslav Askarov has lost his crease to Amir Miftakhov. The ship hasn’t sunk yet but an unsuccessful powerplay and an abysmal shooting percentage has seen this gold medal hope flounder so far. Russia needs a win in at least overtime to progress.
The Germans are ever so competitive, and look to be in this one. Tim Stüzle has solidified himself a true top-10 pick in this upcoming draft with his play and winger Domink Bokk (five points) has been arguably the most important forward to his team. Captain Moritz Seider has been fantastic so far and will look to take the scoring lead for defenceman in the tournament with a good showing against Russia. Diminutive Hendrk Hane will have to come up big in goal, as the Russians will be thirsty to avoid relegation.
The German’s are more of a unit and at this stage boast more cohesion as a forward group. The high-end players of Germany seem to be playing at a bit better level than Russia. It is upset time. It is clear that along with Bokk, Seider and Stüzle; Lukas Reichel and J.J Peterka are ready to play. Still not sure who is taking the baton for Russia just yet.
Prediction: Germany Wins 4-3 in OT