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. Saturday January 4th’s featured game is Canada vs Finland. This is day eight of the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championships.
2020 World Junior Hockey Championships Predictions
Kazakhstan vs Germany
Records: Kazakhstan (0-5-0) Germany (2-3-0)
In the first game of the relegation series, Kazakhstan looked lost against Germany. The final score was 4-0 for the Germans but the game could have gotten a lot uglier had it not be for the play of goaltender Vladislav Nurek. At multiple times throughout the game, the Kazakhstanis could not seem to clear the puck out of their zone. Nurek stood strong for them and did his best to try and keep the game as close as possible. This World Juniors has not be kind to the Kazakhstan team and it seems almost certain that they will be relegated come Saturday. Hopefully, they see a better showing next year in the 1-A Tournament so they can potentially come back in time for the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championships.
On the other side, the Germans must be full of joy following their game against Kazakhstan. Not only should they be happy about their performance but they should feel relief in knowing that they will most likely stay put in the top division, rather than get relegated. They played their system against the Kazakhstanis and they dominated them from start to finish. A shining star throughout the whole tournament for the Germans has been Dominik Bokk. Bokk has six points in five games but that is not the only thing that has impressed others throughout the tournament so far. Bokk has provided great leadership for the younger players on the team such as JJ Peterka and Tim Stuzle as well as a solid two-way game that has served him well up to this point.
As much as some people may want Kazakhstan to avoid relegation, it most likely seems impossible as this point. Germany is simply the faster, more skilled team and there is seemingly nothing the Kazakhstanis can do about it. This game should be an easy win for the German squad as they look to end off the World Juniors on a high note.
Prediction: Germany Wins 5-0.
Canada vs Finland
Records: Canada (4-1-0) Finland (3-1-1)
With Canada facing Finland, it is bound to be one of their toughest games so far. Not only does Finland have a strong team but they seemingly pull tricks out of their hat left, right and centre. Canada should be well prepared though as they have been clicking on all fronts over their past few games. In the quarterfinal, their offence looked superb with Alexis Lafreniere and Barrett Hayton leading the attack. On the backend, Jacob Bernard-Docker, Ty Smith and Kevin Bahl have all contributed in different ways that have helped the team. Joel Hofer has looked strong in net and should provide a similar effort in their next game. If Canada has all of their players rolling, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
This year, Finland was once again doubted by many whilst going up against United States. Many people believed the Americans would walk all over the Finns and the game would be over quickly. Finland proved all the doubters wrong as they played a grinding, skillful game that worked out in their favour. Justus Annunen has been the backbone of the Finns success. Through four games so far, Annunen has a 1.97 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage. Annunen has propelled his value as a goalie prospect and the Colorado Avalanche look like their have a real gem in the making.
Finland has been great so far at adapting to other teams systems and beating them at their own game but they will have a tough test against the Canadian squad. If the Canadians come out guns a-blazing, it may be too much for the Finns to overcome.
Predcition: Canada Wins 4-2.
Russia vs Sweden
Records: Russia (3-2-0) Sweden (5-0-0)
For Russia, they have struggled finding an identity at the World Juniors this year. They have had two completely different teams shown up on any given day. In their game against Canada, the Russians looked absolutely amazing. Their offence was rolling on all cylinders and their defence completely shut Canada out. In their game against the Czech Republic, it was a different story. The Russians did not play as a team and ended up losing to the Czechs 4-3. Through all of their struggles, a bright spot has been Grigori Denisenko. Denisenko has provided great two-way play for the Russians while being a role model for the younger guys. The Russians are a strong team that can wreak havoc on other teams with their physical play. The Swedes will definitely have their hands full if they hope to play for the gold.
On the other side, Sweden have been one of the scarier teams throughout this World Juniors. They have played a game full of speed and skill and their opponents have struggled mightily while trying to slow them down. Leading that charge has been Nils Hoglander and Samuel Fagemo. Currently, the top two in points at the World Juniors, Hoglander and Fagemo have been dynamite on the top line for Sweden. Fagemo has been chipping in crucial goals when needed, having scored in every game except their game against the Czechs. Hoglander has been providing great two-way play while displaying great vision on the ice. If Sweden can get all of their players rolling, there should be no reason as to why they can’t beat the Russians.
All in all, the Russians are a great team and they command respect but when it comes down to it, Sweden is simply a better all-around team. If Sweden sticks to their strengths and execute, they should be playing for gold on Sunday.
Prediction: Sweden Wins 5-2.