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2024 WJC Day 1 RECAP: Slovakia impresses, Norway keeps it kind of close, Canada sleepwalks to victory, and Sweden demolishes Latvia

The traditional powers mostly lit their opponents on fire, but Slovakia makes a big statement in the first game of the tourney!

IIHF Images

Game 1: Slovakia is here to stay with 6-2 beatdown of Czechia!

They’re here. They’re run by Satan.

Run.

Game Notes:

  • First thing, thank you to the IIHF for abandoning Vimeo. I know it’s technically a better platform, but it makes this a hell of a lot easier just having a youtube link.
  • Things started slow which gave the impression that this was going to be another one of those slow, squeaky games where the Czechs came away with an unconvincing 2-1 win or something along those lines. Then the second period started, and the Slovaks absolutely ran the Czechs out of the building. Czechia’s defense was put right on their heels by the high octane offense the Slovaks were able to put up, and their goaltending was...bad, to put it bluntly. More galling is that Slovakia was able to keep up on shots on Czechia where previously they’d probably be a 10+ shot defecit. This is a different team. It’s one you should be concerned about.
  • Czechia’s early stumble could be avenged by playing Norway today, but they’re gonna have to beat them into the dirt. As we more than learned today, they’re a handful.

Game 2: Special Teams the key as Canada overwhelms Finland 5-2

Can only imagine Finland’s missing that Aron Kiviharju kid.

Game Notes:

  • I can kind of see where a lot of the prognosticators were coming from when it came to Team Canada’s composition; they’re a little herky-jerky in some areas and definitely undisciplined as their 12 PIM over Finlands measely 4 showed, but where it mattered was where Canada’s penalty killing came up. Finland only ever got one power play goal out of the multiple opportunities provided, and then Canada just let their 5v5 play do the rest. Niklas Kokko also gave up a couple of grim ones in this one to allow Canada perhaps a slightly better lead than they were comfortable with. Either way, I think Canada will be fine.
  • Finland gets Germany next, and I genuinely think the Germans should expect a charge of the light brigade situation. Those scandinavians have long fuses, but I imagine this lit a fire under Leijonat to prove themselves worthy.
  • Bruins Prospects in this Game: Matty P got himself a goal! It was an empty netter, but otherwise he was pretty solid. He played 15:27 TOI.

Game 3: USA does the USA thing and then wins anyway. Norway’s actually pretty scrappy in 4-1 Loss

Why is Team USA always like this?

Game Notes:

  • The Team USA “Thing” over the past few World Juniors has been to fart around through the first 40 minutes of play and then win it in the 3rd period. This game seemed like it was designed to make that impression stick in your mind forever. They were mostly even on shots with Norway right up until just around the halfway mark of the 2nd, after which the US rapidly course corrected by dumping three straight goals on them. They also gave up a shorty to Norway of all teams, so congrats, you’re still the kid who show up late and ace the final anyway. We’ll see what you’re really made of later on.
  • Norway meanwhile? They aren’t necessarily great, but they will skate with you. They can keep up, and that could be all the difference as a number of teams’ confidences are likely to be shaken early on. I don’t think they’re gonna win necessarily, but it’s fun to see them try their damnedest. We’ll see if that scrappiness is more than just effort wasted against Czechia.

Game 4: Sweden processes Latvia 6-0

You ever see an anaconda swallow a deer whole?

Game Notes

  • I mean...what do you need to see right now. Sweden is pretty obviously better at nearly every stage of the game than Latvia and it showed as bluntly and a brutally as humanly possible. They even spotted Latvia a boatload of penalty minutes after an absolutely bewildering boarding incident featuring Elias Salomonsson. Didn’t really matter. They let pure talent grind the Latvians into paste and Latvia had pretty much no answer.
  • Salomonsson’s probably getting a game or two, which is good. It’s still a teenager tournament; nobody’s winning draft position here. Mostly because Sweden’s team has already been mostly drafted.
  • Latvia hung in there best they could, but it wasn’t enough. They are coming up against Canada next which uh...good luck with that.
  • Bruins Prospects in this Game: Dans Locmelis played 18:05 and was held scoreless. I do not expect that to change today.

Games today:

  • Slovakia vs. Switzerland
  • Finland vs. Germany
  • Norway vs. Czechia
  • Latvia vs. Canada

My Game Pick of the Bunch: Slovakia vs. Switzerland

If you watch the late game you’re a sicko. I don’t care how many Bruins prospects are in it. Norway and Czechia seems like an interesting one on paper due to early returns but I imagine Czechia’s going to get some hardcore course correction going, same goes for Finland against Germany.

The real intrigue is Slovakia. They beat Czechia convincingly. Now that they’ve done that...are they going to take it easy against a weak-looking Swiss squad? Are the Swiss really as done as all say? Or is this going to be a beatdown?

The measuring stick game is on the last day of the year. Can they start to build real momentum and shock the US...again...which they have a startlingly consistent habit of?

Let’s find out together.