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World Juniors Prelims UPDATES: Where everyone’s at, who’s looking to medal, and any surprises along the way

While the tourney itself hasn’t exactly created a load of major surprises, there are still some interesting stories to see going into the home stretch of prelims

Czechia v Canada: Preliminary Round Group A - 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

Group Standings so far

Group A

  1. Canada (2 wins, 6 points, ahead on goal differential)
  2. Finland (2 wins, 6 points)
  3. Germany (1 win, 1 overtime loss, 2 points)
  4. Czechia (1 overtime loss, one loss, 1 point)
  5. Austria (2 wins, no points)

Group B

  1. Sweden (2 wins, 6 points)
  2. USA (1 win, 1 loss due to forfeit, 3 points)
  3. Russia (1 win, 1 loss, 3 points)
  4. Switzerland (1 win, 1 loss, 3 points)
  5. Slovakia (2 losses, no points)

Storylines around the World Juniors

  • Bedard’s Beastly Bunch: Canada being good is no surprise to anybody. What is coming around for a lot of people is that Connor Bedard is a fantastic talent waiting for anybody to fall hard for Bedard in 2023, as he made so effortlessly clear against the Austrians on Tuesday:
  • The Great Northern Wall(stedt): Sweden having been blessed with the good fortune of negative COVID tests currently leads Group B, and while their talent and system have once again shown themselves to be just as dominant as usual, the guy who’s already made himself a nightmare to play against in Wallstedt has shown up limber and ready to play, seeing the most amount of rubber out of any goaltender at the tournament (Yes, even Austria’s after last night), and has a delightful .961 SV%. The Wild will be very lucky to have a kid like this coming to frozen Minnesota in just a few scant years.
  • “When Lysell isn’t on screen, everybody should be asking “Where’s Fabian Lysell?”: So the Bruins haven’t been represented much at this World Juniors, the big thing that has been driving fans nuts is Fabian Lysell having been benched for some form of injury or illness. It would be nice to see him before the medal round, because he's running out of room to really make a name for himself.
  • United States of Surrender: Thanks to COVID, Group B is in chaos; The USA had positive tests, and from what we can gather it appears that the big reason why they didn’t “let ‘em play” as so many very smoothbrained individuals have suggested is that more than one of their goalies appear to have come back positive for The Thing What Made Masks Trendy. It’s a shame, but given that Team USA was otherwise a lock, it casts some real doubt on who could come out on top of this division simply due to how few games are left in the round robin section. We’ll see if they can compete against Sweden today.
  • German Engineering: Gotta give the Deutsch their due; they’ve been playing their asses off, even if their record suggests otherwise; an OT win against the Czechs in an absolute banger of a game that you should catch the recap of if you can. There’s plenty of young hockey players in this German program that could bring this team somewhere special, but none more so than Alexander Blank, who dragged his homeland over the finish line with help from Florian Bugl standing on his head.

Michkov’s Maniacal Moves: While Russia has already jumped headfirst into underperforming (playing Sweden straight out of the gate will do that), they still manage to look just as dangerous as ever against the smaller nations. But the bigger problem in solving Russia ultimately starts in solving Matvei Michkov, who can uh

Do some stuff that’s kind of hard to do. He’s also scored an extremely controversial goal, but otherwise has been the reason to watch the Red Machine do it’s thing as expected. They get Slovakia today, speaking of which...

  • Struggling Slovaks: While Austria is...well...about as good as you would imagine them being, the real disappointment right now of the tournament (other than cancellations) is Slovakia, who’s currently holding a tournament worst scoring at 2 goals scored, and in spite of their goaltending being generally outstanding, their young guns have failed to produce as expected. One can only hope that they either find a way against Russia or they could see themselves facing the ““““Relegation””””” round.
  • The Pall that hangs over the Tournament: While the hockey has otherwise been pretty solid and the games fun, there’s a twinge of annoyance that’s been felt by fans the world over after the IIHF cancelled all other tournaments that were scheduled to go on during the month of January, with special attention being paid to the Women’s U18 tournament, which has generally drawn similar interest around this time as the World Juniors themselves, especially as many players typically use that as their last possible chance to make it to the Olympics, or as a last chance to impress prospective college scouts that might be looking for young talent. The fact that the tournament has been cancelled for the 2nd consecutive time and given such a blatant, gross, and honestly quite galling answer as to why the IIHF couldn’t be assed to tell an arena that’s already hosting fans to just let some teenagers hang out and prove who’s the best while letting this one go on is just unconscionable, and they’ve been taking it from all sides, from fans to former players.

Really, it behooves the IIHF to bite the bullet, set up a date and time, bring ‘em to Texas or Florida or wherever, and let these girls play. After two years of this shit and frankly other more obnoxious, rinky-dink treatment, they owe them that much.

  • The other Pall that hangs over the Tournament: Screw you, COVID. I know that the rest of the world has otherwise tried to forget how much of a pain in the ass you are but seriously, screw COVID.

What’s ahead?:

Sweden vs. the US could possibly be the long-awaited debut of Fabian Lysell. Maybe. We’ll see.

Honestly, thanks to the COVID issue, there might be some cancellations in the near future. It’s going to be a fluid thing.

We’ll see what happens.