Just the Facts:
What is it: The premiere Under-20 international hockey tournament, as made popular in North America by TSN, and has been a good place for fans interested in the upcoming draft to see the best of the best of the best...while they’re still teenagers.
Where is it: British Columbia, the cities of Victoria and Vancouver will be tag-teaming to bring us these games.
Defending Champs: Canada
Places to Watch: NHLN in the USA, TSN in Canada, TSNGO will have a livestream.
Anything Special about this particular tournament?: Not this year, but it’s west coast existence means all the games are later.
Why did this primer come out 6 days before the tournament starts?: Because Christmas Eve is on a monday, Christmas day is on a tuesday and the tourney starts right after it. This is the only time you’re actually gonna be free to read it.
- Czech Republic
- United States
Bruins Prospects at the World Juniors:
USA: Kyle Keyser
Czech Republic: Jakub Lauko, Daniel Bukac
Canada: Jack Studnicka
Finland: Urho Vaakanainen
Russia: Pavel Shen
- Canada is as mortal as they’re ever going to be in spite of all the ludicrous talent they have on their roster. They had to leave a not-insignificant amount of their really good talent home due to injuries, notably to guys like Alex Formenton, and Gabe Vilardi, whose absence has put plenty of doubt in experts and there were truly scary signs that Owen Tippet might’ve missed the cut no thanks to a truly ridiculous penalty. Some are even saying Canada might not even medal. How crazy is that?...Well, I think it’s pretty crazy because there are still a lot of really talented kids left on their roster and they already knew what they wanted to look like a few weeks ago. They’re still the team to beat.
- One of the teams that could deal Canada a mortal blow early is Russia. Once again they’re a team that exists to score goals. Guys like Kirill Marchenko, Ivan Chekovich, Alex Kovanov, and Alexander Alexeyev ensure that no matter what the Red Machine’s going to do, they’re gonna make sure that the game is within a goal at worst. One area they had a lot of trouble with last year on the other hand, was power play success, slow starts, and finishing off opponents when they were the better team. Russia will have to be ruthless in order to win.
- The other team who could maybe bring some heat to Canada is the Czech Republic, who will have to play much better than they have in recent World Juniors, especially on the whole “backchecking” thing. Thankfully, the Czechs brought a pretty good lineup that also happens to include something resembling defense for once. Whether or not that means Lukas Dostal can get away from “international” Dostal (in which he sucks), is anyone’s guess.
- Switzerland will again be a team that is solid on fundamental, possession driven hockey but lacks any truly killer scoring players. This fact will probably, and unfortunately be their doom this year as they’re stuck with the Czechs, the Russians, and the Canadians.
- Also participating in this group: Denmark! I hope you guys are ready for another *fun filled completely **fair and definitely ***evenly matched bunch of games!
* = It will not be fun for Denmark.
** = They already showed up as Denmark so they’re at a major disadvantage in this hell-division.
*** = They’ll be fighting Kazakhstan for relegation.
- The USA’s path to the finals is tough, but they’re ready. They definitely have the talent to make something crazy happen; Jason Robertson, Jack and Quinn Hughes, and K’Andre Miller is a potent cocktail of scoring, defense and dominant play regardless of who you’re playing. Add in three goaltenders in Keyser, Knight, and Primeau who are playing out of their minds in their respective leagues? Group B is essentially the American’s oyster, but they have to show up for every game; a major problem from last year’s team was needing bailing out in the third period and the bigger names in this group will not give quarter.
- The team that can best match the US in terms of raw talent is Tre Kronor, yet again. Where they falter however is that they aren’t bringing back a lot of the blue chip forwards that have come to characterize their recent World Juniors appearances, and injuries to guys like Timothy Liljegren have essentially placed their admittedly very good defense in a bit of a bind. Not helping matters is that the usually ridiculously strong Swedish goaltending appears to be individually rather good at the Allsvenskan level, but with no number one rising out of the ranks. Still, they managed to bring plenty of talent that can get quick breaks, and one player in particular has been in the Bruins sights for quite some time. The Swedes might be mortal, but they seem particularly poised to coalesce into something dangerous.
- The Finns can’t catch a break. While they’re still unquestionably quite good and have UMass Amherst’s Filip Lindberg and eventual Buffalo Sabre Ukko-Pekka Lukkonen in net and 2019 draft choices like Kaapo Kakko and Anton Lundell, they were dealt a serious blow in losing Blackhawks prospect Niklas Nordgren due to a particularly grim hit while he was playing in Liiga. In an arms race, you really don’t want a factory going down. Regardless, the Finns are probably going to come at this tournament ready to screw up someone’s run for the medals and if they can stick one to the Swedes? So much the better. UPDATE: they got Vaak, they'll be alright.
- Don’t count out the Slovakians, however. They’re young, they all play together, have an astonishing amount of returning players for the World Juniors, they play hard, and draft-ready guys like Milos Roman and in-NHL-system guys like Martin Fehervary have all but ensured that they will always weasel their way into the Quarterfinals somehow. They are in essence the ultimate trap team, rather than just trap game. Internal federation nonsense be damned; you just don’t want them right after a big win.
- Hey, Kazakhstan! Congrats on making the world juniors! You’re probably dead...But hey! Your logo and jerseys are pretty sweet, so you can go out fashionably!
2019 World Junior Championship Schedule:
- Czech Republic vs. Switzerland, 4pm EST
- United States vs. Slovakia, 6:30pm EST
- Canada vs. Denmark, 8pm EST
- Finland vs. Sweden, 10:30pm EST
- Russia vs. Denmark, 4pm EST
- Sweden vs. Slovakia, 6:30pm EST
- Canada vs. Switzerland, 8pm EST
- Kazakhstan vs. Finland, 10:30pm EST
- Czech Republic vs. Russia, 8pm EST
- United States vs. Kazakhstan, 10:30pm EST
- Denmark vs. Switzerland, 4pm EST
- Finland vs. Slovakia, 6:30pm EST
- Czech Republic vs. Canada, 8pm EST
- United States vs. Sweden, 10:30pm EST
- Russia vs. Switzerland, 8pm EST
- Slovakia vs. Kazakhstan, 10:30pm EST
- Czech Republic vs. Denmark, 4pm EST
- Kazakhstan vs. Sweden, 6:30pm EST
- Canada vs. Russia, 8pm EST
- Finland vs. United States, 10:30pm EST
Then we have the quarters, semis, and Finals, which will all be given their own posts.
GOOD LUCK and GOOD GAME to everybody in this years World Juniors!