Relegation Round 1: Kazakhstan vs. Denmark, 2pm EST
Relegation is a best of three series for survival. A Survivor Series, if you will. You win, you survive. You lose, you’re relegated to Division 1a and can’t return to the World Juniors unless you are promoted.
So! Relegation Round! Always fun, always a good time depending on who’s playing.
Unfortunately for Denmark, if last year made them look hapless, this year made them look hopeless. The Danes look horrible in their own end, and their goaltending has yet to show they can keep a 60 minute effort together without giving up anywhere between 4-10 goals. They’ve yet to score once in this tournament.
Kazakhstan meanwhile...Isn’t much good either, especially when it comes to limited shots-against, but at the very least, Kazakhstan can say they can score and have scored against much better teams than they, so if there’s one thing you can say they’ve got an up against, it’s being able to score.
This is either gonna be a 10-9 blowout or a 3-0 snorefest in which none of the goals are fun. I’m taking the Kazakhs in game 1 however since they have the crowds out in BC absolutely enraptured with their try-hardedness.
Quarterfinal Game 1: Sweden vs. Switzerland - 4pm
The Swiss are a team that, through system alone, have been able to bring Canada, Russia, and the Czechs to games far closer than they had any right to be and by individually impressive efforts by guys like Philipp Kurashev and Nando Eggenberger, topped off with the play of Luca Hollenstein in net.
Sweden meanwhile has just been kinda...all around good. The closest they ever got to being beat was against the United States, and one really good shift against the US in overtime was all that mattered in the end to help them win. They can play tight, they can blow you out if they need to, Erik Brannstrom has become the single most obnoxious-in-the-best-way prospect at the tournament, and they have been getting some pretty solid goaltending. If both teams live up to their billing, this will be the most intense 2-1 victory you’ll ever see.
...For Sweden. I’m sorry, unless Kurashev and co. just take over multiple shifts, Switzerland’s probably on it’s way out the door.
Game 2: Canada vs. Finland - 6:30pm
Finland has a problem. In games where they’ve had their act together, they’ve been able to win and win pretty handily at that. When they’re off their discipline game...that’s where the trouble starts. And it’s not hyperbole; The Finns can probably accidentally draw a penalty in one game and then fall into a bunch of penalty killing and goals against. Not
Canada meanwhile, will probably demolish Finland if they take so much anything more than two slashing penalties. And maybe even if they don’t. They’re just too talented not to, and as expected, it will take nothing less than an A++ game to get anyone to beat Canada.
Bruins Prospects in this game: Urho Vaakanainen (FIN), Jack Studnicka (CAN)
Game 3: United States vs. Czech Republic - 8pm
The Czechs are awful at defending and often give up truly braindead chances in front of their goaltenders, but they also have a group of first round talents so good that, if they don’t overload them, could find a way to cut into the US’ biggest weakness: malaise. The US has had serious problems with starting slow, continuing slow, and not quite hitting the accelerator until the third period, in which they become a team so good it’s hard to think of them as anything other than world beaters.
Basically, the Czechs have to dump a lot of goals on the US to break their spirit early, and even then that might not be enough. But they can do that. They just need to hang on for dear life during the third if they’re up by any score whatsoever.
Bruins Prospects in this game: Jakub Lauko, Daniel Bukac (CZE), Kyle Keyser (USA)
Game 4: Russia vs. Slovakia - 10:30pm
The Slovaks are probably going to get mauled.
Russia managed to pull off what looked like the impossible thanks to Pavel Shen, and have looked generally quite capable of taking over games whenever needed. Slovakia...hasn’t been able to do that against anybody but Kazakhstan. Sure, they brought the US to an early scare, but then they got US’d. Finland and Sweden punched them in the mouth without much effort being expended to respond, so I can’t imagine how badly this could go.
Bruins Prospects in this game: Pavel Shen (RUS)