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 foe each game in the tournament. This will also include a featured game that should be must-watch hockey. Monday December 30th’s featured game is Canada vs. Germany. This is day five of the World Junior Hockey Championships.
2020 World Junior Hockey Championships Predictions
Kazakhstan vs Sweden
Records: Kazakhstan (0-3-0) Sweden (2-0-0)
Kazakhstan’s previous game came against the Finns yesterday. They ended up losing to them by a score of 7-1. They had a few chances but were simply outplayed in all aspects of their game. Kazakhstan seemingly never had a chance against a much stronger Finnish side. A bright spot for them in the game was Andrei Buyalskiy. Buyalskiy chipped in the only goal for the team while providing some spark. Seemingly guaranteed to be heading to the relegation series, Kazakhstan can only hope that the Swedish team takes it easy on them and does not badly blow them out.
For Sweden, their winning streak of 50 games in the preliminary round should seemingly continue. The Swedes are simply too good and overpowering compared to the Kazakhstan team. Samuel Fagemo and Nils Hoglander have had amazing tournaments so far. Fagemo has four points in two games while providing great two-way play for the Swedes. Hoglander oozes with skill, collecting four points in two games, and scoring what is becoming a trademark goal for him: the Michigan. This game against the Kazakhs should simply be a warmup game for the Swedes before they face the Slovakians tomorrow.
Prediction: Sweden Wins 6-1.
Canada vs Germany
Records: Canada (1-1-0) Germany (1-1-0)
Coming off of an embarrassing loss to the hands of the Russians on Saturday, Canada will look to rebound against a tough German team. Adding salt to the wound, Canada will be without top 2020 prospect Alexis Lafreniere as he suffered a leg injury against the Russians. With that being said, Canada will still have tons of firepower to work with. Barrett Hayton has looked like the NHL has served him well. He has had an amazing transition game and creates tons of chances for his teammates. Nolan Foote looks lethal with the puck on his stick and Connor McMichael will look to continue finding the dirty areas where he can chip in an easy goal.
With Germany, this tournament is a coming-out party for them. Having won the Division 1-A championship last year, the Germans have not looked out of place with the big dogs. A huge part of that has been from the play of Dominik Bokk, Moritz Seider and top 2020 NHL prospects: JJ Peterka and Tim Stuzle. Bokk has five points in two games while showing off his incredible skating and playmaking abilities. Seider has been a horse for the Germans, providing solid defence while chipping in on offence with four points in two games. Peterka and Stuzle have also been incredible, with Peterka chipping in some well-timed goals and Stuzle showing off his amazing on-ice vision.
This should be an intense match with two firepower teams going head-to-head. Both teams will rely on their speed and skill to take the early lead. This game will most likely feature many lead changes but should most likely see Canada come out on the winning side. At the end of the day, the Canadian lineup is far more balanced compared to the German squad.
Prediction: Canada Wins 5-3.
Slovakia vs Switzerland
Records: Slovakia (1-1-0) Switzerland (1-1-0)
Slovakia’s record tells a different story compared to how they have performed throughout the World Juniors. Their win came against Kazakhstan by a score of 3-1. Kazakhstan is the weakest team in the World Junior this year so that win does not prove much. Meanwhile, they were completely blown out by the Finnish team, 8-1. The Finnish team is certainly a stronger team at this World Juniors and that game more accurately depicts how strong the Slovakian team is. One of their few bright spots this tournament has been their goalie Samuel Hlavaj. Hlavaj has been astounding in net, posting a 2.11 goals-against average to go along with a .921 save percentage. Throughout both games that he has played, Hlavaj has stood on his head and made some terrific saves to provide some much-needed spark to his team.
With Switzerland, they have had an up and down World Juniors so far. Their loss came from the hands of the Swedes by the score of 5-2. They played to their strengths and actually created some pretty decent scoring chances that could have resulted in a much different game that what the score showed. They controlled the play at some moments throughout the game and did not look completely lost. A positive throughout this tournament for the Swiss has been Valentin Nussbaumer. Through two games, he has two assists but that is not what has impressed people the most. An Arizona Coyotes prospect, Nussbaumer has impressed by the way he creates plays for his teammates and seems to always find the open man with his on-ice vision. He can certainly be relied upon when times get rough for the Swiss.
Although this game may not be between two powerhouses, it will surely carry some interesting storylines along with it. The loser of this game will most likely head to the relegation round to face off against Kazakhstan in a three-game series. The Swiss team has a better all around attack and should benefit from it immensely against the Slovakians. Although Slovakia is a strong team, if Hlavaj is not at the top of his game, the Slovakians may be in a for tough game against the Swiss.
Prediction: Switzerland Wins 3-2.
United States vs Czech Republic
Records: United States (2-1-0) Czech Republic (1-1-0)
The United States has the best all-around team on paper. They have an incredibly potent offence that can score at will when they are rolling, they have a solid defence that can chip in offensively when needed and they have one of the best under-20 goalies in the world manning their crease. When they are rolling, it is very hard to stop them.
A few players that have really stepped up their play has been Shane Pinto, Nicholas Robertson and Trevor Zegras. Shane Pinto is among the leaders at the World Juniors in points with six in three games. His playmaking abilities have been on full display and he has proven that he can step up whenever the Americans have needed a spark. Nick Robertson is just a pure goal scorer. He is absolutely lethal with the puck on his stick and he can score from almost anywhere. Trevor Zegras has been the perfect playmaker so far this tournament with seven assists in three games. His best game by far was against the German squad. He had five assists in that game and looked like he had eyes in the back of his head the whole time.
On the other side, the Czech Republic team has been a pleasant surprise so far this tournament. They upset team Russia by the score of 4-3 and looked superb in that game. They manage to create numerous scoring chances and had just enough in the tank to beat a powerful Russian squad.
The best players so far in this tournament for them has been Jan Jenik and Michal Teply. Jenik, who plays for the Hamilton Bulldogs of the OHL, has looked like a leader amonst the Czech players and has stepped up big whe his squad has neede him the most. Tepy has played great alongside Jenik, displaying his playmaing abilites with three assists in two games. The Czech team will have a rough go against the United States but if they stick to their system and execute well, they may cause some panic over on the American side.
In the end, it will take a monstrous effort for the Czech team to be able to defeat the powerhouse that is the United States. All the Americans have to do is play their game and they should look to roll into the quarterfinals with a good shot at winning the gold.
Prediction: United States Win 5-2.